Back Pain

Are you Experiencing

Back pain may be mild or extreme, quick or constant. What raises your risk — and what can you do about it? Learn about back pain’s causes, risks, and prevention.

Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care, usually within a few weeks. If yours doesn’t improve in that time, see a therapist.

Symptoms

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Muscle Aches

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Shooting or stabbing pain

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Pain that radiates down your leg

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Pain that worsens with bending,
lifting, standing or walking

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Dull aching sensation in the lower back

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Pain that improves with reclining

Diagnosis

Causes

Back pain that comes on suddenly and lasts no more than six weeks can be caused by a fall or heavy lifting, it can be identified as Acute Back Pain. Back pain that lasts more than three months can be identified as Chronic Back Pain.

Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
    Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back can cause painful muscle spasms.
  • Bulging or ruptured disks
    Disks act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The soft material inside a disk can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve. However, you can have a bulging or ruptured disk without back pain. Disk disease is often found incidentally when you have spine X-rays for some other reason.
  • Arthritis
    Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.
  • Skeletal irregularities
     A condition in which your spine curves to the side (scoliosis) also can lead to back pain, but generally not until middle age.
  • Osteoporosis
    Your spine’s vertebrae can develop compression fractures if your bones become porous and brittle.

Risk factors

Anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens. These factors might put you at greater risk of developing back pain:

  • Age
    Back pain is more common as you get older, starting around age 30 or 40.
  • Lack of exercise
    Weak, unused muscles in your back and abdomen might lead to back pain.
  • Excess weight
    Excess body weight puts extra stress on your back.
  • Diseases
    Some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain.
  • Improper lifting
    Using your back instead of your legs can lead to back pain.
  • Psychological conditions
    People prone to depression and anxiety appear to have a greater risk of back pain.
  • Smoking
    This reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can keep your body from delivering enough nutrients to the disks in your back. Smoking also slows healing.

Treatment

Most acute back pain gets better with a few weeks of home treatment. However, everyone is different, and back pain is a complex condition. For many, the pain doesn’t go away for a long period, but only a few have persistent, severe pain.

For acute back pain, over-the-counter pain relievers and the use of heat might be all you need. Bed rest isn’t recommended.

Continue your activities as much as you can tolerate. Try light activity, such as walking and activities of daily living. Stop activity that increases pain, but don’t avoid activity out of fear of pain. If home treatments aren’t working after several weeks, your doctor might suggest stronger medications or other therapies.

Physical therapy and exercise

A physical therapist can apply a variety of treatments, such as heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques, to your back muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain.

As pain improves, the therapist can teach you exercises to increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture. Regular use of these techniques can help keep pain from returning.

A number of alternative treatments might ease symptoms of back pain. Always discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before starting a new alternative therapy.

  • Chiropractic care 
    A chiropractor hand-manipulates your spine to ease your pain.
  • Acupuncture 
    A practitioner of acupuncture inserts sterilized stainless steel needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Some people with low back pain report that acupuncture helps relieve their symptoms.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) 
    A battery-powered device placed on the skin delivers electrical impulses to the painful area. Studies have shown mixed results as to TENS’ effectiveness.
  • Massage 
    If your back pain is caused by tense or overworked muscles, massage might help.
  • Yoga 
    There are several types of yoga, a broad discipline that involves practicing specific postures or poses, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Yoga can stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture, although you might need to modify some poses if they aggravate your symptoms.

How can we Help?

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