One Back Pain Treatment You Probably Dont Need
Back pain can be incredibly frustrating, and going under the knife may seem like the quickest, easiest fix to bring relief. But the truth is, many people dont need surgery for lower back pain management, Dr. Park says.
If your back pain is musculoskeletal, you will not require surgery, but if its a pinched nerve thats due to a disc herniation or something else, you may need to have surgery, he says. But even in those people, when you go through a six-to-eight-week course of treatment that includes physical therapy and activity modification, 85 to 90 percent of the time, they wont need surgery.
However, if you try the treatments above and dont see any improvement or still feel pain, talk to your doctor about a referral to a pain management specialist, as more specific tests or treatments may be required to get to the bottom of whats going on.
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Find Back Pain Relief: Lighten Your Bags
Carrying an overstuffed purse, briefcase, or handbag can strain the low back. If you must carry a heavy load, consider using a wheeled briefcase instead. By reducing the amount of weight you’re carrying, you reduce the amount of pressure on the spine. Help keep your kids’ backs healthy by making sure their backpacks are not overloaded. A heavy backpack could mean future back pain for your little ones.
Pain Medications To Treat Back Pain
A wide range of medications is used to treat both acute and chronic low back pain. Analgesic medications are specially formulated to relieve pain. They include over-the-counter acetaminophen and aspirin, as well as prescription opioids such as codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be used to relieve pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDS include ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen sodium. Several others, including a type of NSAID called COX-2 inhibitors, are available only by prescription.
There are also many topical creams or sprays that can dull and soothe low back pain. These are applied to the skin and thus stimulate localized nerves to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain. Topical analgesics can reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.
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Referred Pain To And From The Lumbar Spine
Pain in the area of the lumbar spine may be due to important problems that are actually unrelated to the back. Referred pain occurs when a problem in one place in the body causes pain in another place. The pain travels down a nerve.. Sources of referred pain to the low back may include abdominal aneurysm , tubal pregnancy, kidney stones, pancreatitis, and colon cancer. Clues to these maladies include pain that waxes and wanes over a short period, with frequent peaks of intense pain, weight loss, abnormalities found during abdominal exam, and trace amounts of blood in the urine. On the other hand, pain can be referred from the low back and be felt in another location, as is often the case with . For example, it is not rare for a patient with a slipped disc in the lower back to have pain in the back of the thigh, or in the calf or even the foot, and not have any low back pain. This situation requires a doctor to sort out the type of pain and to do the examination required to show that the pain is actually coming from the spine .
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
As a primary supporter of research on pain and pain mechanisms, NINDS is a member of the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to promote collaboration among the many NIH Institutes and Centers with research programs and activities addressing pain. On an even broader scale, NIH participates in the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that coordinates research across other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
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The Universal Guide To Lower Back Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
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If youve ever had lower back pain stop you from doing what you want, youre not alone. Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the world. It is a leading reason why people visit a doctor, affecting more than 80% of adults at some point in their lives. According to the Global Burden of Diseasea significant study published in the Lancet medical journallower back pain is also a leading cause of disability.
While severe lower back pain can cause worry, pain severity is not always an indication something is seriously wrong. Photo Source: Shutterstock.
You may not be able to prevent lower back pain, especially as you age and your back loses some strength and resilience. Fortunately, there are many ways you can get relief, no matter the cause of your back pain.
About Chronic Back Pain
Most lower back pain is short-term or acute, lasting for several days to several weeks. But, it often resolves on its own with no residual function loss. Most acute back pain is mechanical, which means theres a disturbance in how the backs components muscle, spine, nerves and intervertebral discs fit together and move.
Chronic back pain, on the other hand, persists for over 12 weeks even if doctors treat an underlying cause or injury. Around 20 percent of individuals with lower back pain end up developing chronic low back pain with symptoms that persist for at least one year.
If youve been suffering from chronic back pain, its important you visit us at the OIP to receive a diagnosis for your condition and start treatment to experience pain relief.
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Other Reading On Painsciencecom About Back Pain
- 6 Main Causes of Morning Back Pain Why is back pain worst first thing in the morning, and what can you do about it?
- 34 Surprising Causes of Pain Trying to understand pain when there is no obvious explanation.
- Dont Worry About Lifting Technique The importance of lift with your legs, not your back to prevent back pain has been exaggerated.
- Chronic Low Back Pain Is Not So Chronic The prognosis for chronic low back pain is better than most people realize especially for Australians in Australia!
- Spinal Subluxation Can your spine be out of alignment? Chiropractics big idea has been misleading patients for more than a century.
- Back Pain & Trigger Points A quick introduction to the role of trigger points in back pain
And the big one
- Complete Guide to Low Back Pain Everything on one mighty page: an extremely detailed guide to the myths, controversies, the nature of the beast and the highlight dozens of detailed, evidence-based reviews of treatment and therapy options. This huge tutorial also focusses on a topic I think is neglected: the role of muscle in back pain.
When To See A Doctor
People can often treat back pain with home remedies and some patience. However, a person should speak to a doctor about chronic or severe back pain.
A doctor may recommend physical therapy, medication, or other treatments. People who have existing health conditions or who take regular medications should speak to a doctor before trying any herbs or supplements.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not monitor supplements for purity or quality, so it is essential to research reputable companies first.
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Maintaining A Healthy Weight Can Help Reduce Back Pain
If youre at a healthy weight, your muscles dont have to work as hard to support you against gravity. The muscles wont fatigue as quickly, and that would be helpful with pain, says Stephens. Theres also less pressure on your back and other joints, he adds.
A meta-analysis of 33 studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined the association between overweight and obesity and low back pain, and found that both conditions increased the risk for low back pain.
What Is Upper Back Pain
Many people experience pain between their neck and shoulder blades. This is called upper back pain. Upper back pain can be constant or occur only when doing activities. Sometimes upper back pain can be so severe that it interferes with normal life. A doctor can help diagnose and help determine what to do to relieve upper back pain.
Upper back pain is the discomfort experienced between the neck and shoulder blades. If you have upper back pain, you may have symptoms that come on gradually or all at once. This could include:
- Sharp, stabbing sensation
Upper back pain may be caused by several different things like:
- Injury, overuse, or muscle strain
- Poor posture
- Herniated disk
Upper back pain can affect anyone.
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Back In Action: Updated Treatment Recommendations For Lower Back Pain
That dull ache when you go for your morning jog. A sharp pain when you lift a heavy box. For some people, back pain is just an annoyance that comes and goes. For others, it can be a devastating hindrance to everyday life.
Back pain affects 80 percent of people at some point in their lifetime. Each year, lower back pain causes about 149 million lost days of work in the U.S. and costs $100 billion to $200 billion mostly in lost wages and productivity.As The New York Times reported in February 2017, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society have released updated back pain treatment guidelines that are similar to the evidence-based approaches weve used at UT Southwestern for many years. Many people expect their pain to be treated with a doctors visit and a prescription for medication. But we know thats not how back pain works. And with an opioid epidemic ragingin America, prescribing medication as a first-line treatment for back pain is not the safest approach for patients.
Lower back pain often can be resolved by staying active without pain medication. But there are times when thats not enough. Lets discuss when you might need to visit the doctor and when back pain is manageable at home.
When To Contact A Doctor
A person with musculoskeletal pain may wish to consult a doctor before using PEMF therapy to establish whether it is the best option for them.
If their symptoms do not improve after using PEMF devices, a person should discuss alternative treatment options with the doctor.
Here, we answer some questions that people commonly ask about PEMF therapy devices.
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How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
What Are Some Less Invasive Or Noninvasive Back Pain Treatments
Your doctor has a wide range of treatments that may help your lower back pain. In general, expect your doctor to take a stepped care approach. That means starting with simple, low-cost treatments and moving to more aggressive approaches later. Keep in mind that many treatments take time to reach their full effect.
Medications. When over-the-counter pills and topicals dont do enough to relieve back pain, your doctor may recommend a prescription drug. Examples include:
- Antiseizure medication, such gabapentin or pregabalin, for nerve-related pain
- Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen or carisoprodol
- Prescription NSAIDs, such as celecoxib, diclofenac, or fenoprofen
- Opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, on a short-term basis.
Physical therapy . PT for lower back pain involves passive and active therapies to help the patient build core muscle strength, improve spinal flexibility and range of motion, correct posture and more. Your physical therapy sessions may include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
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Get Active To Treat Chronic Lower Back Pain
If the pain persists, we recommend scheduling an evaluation from a physical therapist. A physical therapist can teach you how to do special exercises to stretch and strengthen the spine, which should help relieve the pain.
Find Relief Through Ice And Heat
Break out that bag of frozen peas for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad.
Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, DO, an associate professor at Michigan State Universitys College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
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Low Back Pain Symptoms: Does Your Back Hurt
Low back pain symptoms range from sharp and stabbing to a dull ache. The pains can be constant or intermittent and positional. Acute low back pain can appear suddenly after injury. Chronic back pain is defined as pain lasting more than three months. Consult a doctor if you have prolonged back pain longer than 72 hours.
When Are Diagnostic Tests For Lower Back Pain Necessary
Many patients do not need X-rays in the first few weeks of pain because their pain will end up resolving. Many more do not need CT scans or MRI imaging, which are overly sensitive and often reveal abnormalities not related to the patients pain. These forms of imaging can be extremely useful, however, if a person has chronic or severe pain, and/or neurological symptoms. Blood tests may be ordered if an infection or tumor is suspected.
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Supplements And Herbal Therapies
Looking for a natural way to manage your back pain? You might consider supplements or herbal therapies. Here’s what Grossman advices for her patients:
When considering supplements and herbal therapies, always talk to your doctor first about potential risks and side effects, interactions with other medications, and which therapies may benefit you.
Fractures And Lower Back Pain
are often very difficult pain problems and indicate the possible presence of . In patients with severe osteoporosis, spinal fractures can occur with no early warning and no significant trauma the patient does not have to fall to fracture a vertebrae.
Patients with spinal compression fractures experience spasms and, often, very high pain levels.
In patients with low back pain where the cause is difficult to determine, especially for elderly patients with osteoporosis, a fracture in the sacrum may be the cause of the pain. A standard X-ray or bone scan may not show a sacral fracture. Imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI can often reveal these fractures.
It is very important that patients with acute lumbar compression fractures be tested for osteoporosis. A bone density study is needed, unless the patient has no other osteoporosis risk factors and has had a very high impact fracture. Studies have shown that many patients with fractures in the U.S. are discharged from hospitals with no plans for management of their bone density problems, which then are left to worsen.
Although pain can be very intense, it is best for patients with lumbar fracture to resume activity as soon as possible. This is especially true for elderly patients, who can too easily become weakened, and develop other complications, if mobility is reduced for too long. may be needed for pain control, for as brief a period as possible.
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