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What You Need to Know About Lower Back Pain

What You Need to Know About Lower Back Pain

According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately eight out of 10 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can be dull or sharp, it can be acute or chronic and in most cases, will go away on its own over days, weeks or months. Back pain, for some, can be crippling, and if you are someone who suffers from lower back pain in any capacity, you might be interested to learn more about why you get back pain and what you can do to prevent it.

Back Pain Overview and Facts

Anyone can get back pain, and it can include upper back pain, middle back pain and lower back pain. Many times, back pain is caused by injury to the body, but can also be caused by a number of conditions including arthritis, nerve or muscular problems and degenerative disc disease. People who are older will often get back pain over those who are younger and those who are not as physically fit will get back pain more often than those who are active. Those who smoke or those who sit for long periods of time will also be more prone to back pain. Most of the time back pain can be relieved by taking pain medications, but for some, over the counter pain medication doesn’t help. This is when a doctor needs to step in.

Back Pain Signs and Symptoms

Are you unsure if you are suffering from a type of back pain? It’s possible it could be something else, of course. Some of the common signs and symptoms that indicate back pain include persistent aches along the spine, sharp middle or lower back pain after lifting objects and a chronic aching in the middle or lower back. This generally occurs after sitting or standing for long periods of time. Most of these signs are minor, but if the pain lasts for more than three days or is incapacitating, you should contact a doctor.

Back Pain Causes and Diagnosis

There are a number of causes for back pain and depending on the cause if you need to see a doctor, different methods of diagnosis will occur. Some of the most common back pain causes include problems stemming from the mechanics of your back. For instance, you may have a ruptured or broken down disc, or you may have muscle spasms. It could also be an injury in your back. There are also diseases or conditions that can cause back pain. These include kidney stones, pregnancy, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia and infections. Back pain can also be caused by stress or tumors. By describing the pain to your doctor, he or she will have a number of diagnosis techniques available.

Back Pain Tests and Treatments

If you choose to see a doctor for your back pain, you will likely go through some testing in order to get to the bottom of the pain. Typically, a physical exam will be done, and a medical history will be taken before any other tests are done. It is important to keep in mind that there is no test that can 100 percent identify the cause of back pain. Another thing to keep in mind is that about 90 percent of all back pain will go away in about 30 days, so most testing will be done after that point. If any testing is done, it is usually only done after that point or if someone has red flags in their exam or medical history. Traditional testing includes both MRI and CT scans, depending on the location of the pain, and sometimes both. Another test, known as an EMG, will test the nerves around the back to determine if nerves are the cause of pain. Treatment, in most cases, will depend on the type of pain. Physical therapy might be used, as well as nerve stimulation. Pain medications and steroids may also be used to treat pain.

Back Pain Tips and Home Remedies

Since most cases of back pain will not be taken seriously by a doctor until several weeks have passed, most people who suffer from it will look for some things they can do at home to get relief. Massage can be an effective treatment for back pain, as can acupuncture. Seeing a chiropractor is also something that you can do to help ease back pain. Finally, when looking into home remedies, many back pain sufferers will use over the counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Ice or heat can also be quite effective. Stay away from treatments like bed rest and most topical treatments. They have been found to be non-effective when it comes to treating back pain.

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