How Is Back Pain Treated
Acute back pain usually gets better on its own. Acute back pain is usually treated with:
- Medications designed to relieve pain and/or inflammation
- analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be sold over the counter some NSAIDS are prescribed by a physician
- muscle relaxants are prescription drugs that are used on a short-term basis to relax tight muscles
- topical pain relief such as creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain. Common topical medications include capsaicin and lidocaine.
Exercising, bed rest, and surgery are typically not recommended for acute back pain.Chronic back pain is most often treated with a stepped care approach, moving from simple low-cost treatments to more aggressive approaches. Specific treatments may depend on the identified cause of the back pain.
Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis of the spine the slow degeneration of the spinal joints is the most frequent cause of lower back pain. All of us experience wear and tear as we age, and it is normal for your lower back to start acting up as you get older. As the cartilage breaks down between the spinal joints, surrounding tissues may become inflamed. The inflammation and the thinning of cartilage increase friction in the joints, which may cause pain in the lower back.
Sensations That Might Indicate A Medical Emergency
1. Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.2. Radiating pain: This pain “moves” or shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.
3. Sudden weakness in the legs: Limb weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine due to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. However, sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.4. Incontinence: Back pain paired with inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.5. Numbness or pins and needles in the groin or glutes: This is known as saddle anesthesia and is also a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.
If you have leg weakness, incontinence, and numbness together, you might have cauda equina syndrome, a serious illness characterized by spinal cord nerve damage. This is a medical emergency, and patients usually need surgery immediately to decompress the nerves and reduce permanent damage.
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Should You See A Neurologist For Back Pain And Neck Pain
People manage chronic back and neck pain in different ways. Some try stretching or alternating heat and cold at the source of the discomfort. Others turn to over-the-counter pain medicine and a stoic demeanor. Acute pain often goes away without medical treatment, but dont ignore chronic and persistent pain that lasts for weeks, months, or years. Weakness, numbness, tingling or pain radiating into an arm or leg are important symptoms that need evaluation by a physician. Talk to your doctor to determine the cause of the problem. Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, to help determine the cause of your back pain.
In Most Cases A Primary Care Doctor Or Chiropractor Can Help You Resolve The Problem
Low back pain is one of the most common complaints on the planet. And you may wonder where to turn when you start experiencing some of those aches or twinges in the lower part of your back. Take heart. “In most cases, you won’t need a specialist,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, a rheumatologist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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Coping With Chronic Back Pain
Low back pain can take a toll on your mental health. You may feel fear, frustration, and anger or have depression and anxiety because of ongoing pain. Those common reactions can make your pain last even longer. If pain is starting to get you down:
- Let people know when you need a helping hand. Ask family members or friends to help out with physical tasks you can’t do right now.
- Be honest with your doctor about your pain. Ask for a referral to a counsellor or pain management specialist. A prescription antidepressant or antianxiety medicine may also help with chronic pain.
- Work with your health professionals and your work supervisor to make a return-to-work plan, if needed. Ask for an ergonomic consultation if you need to learn how to do some of your job duties differently to avoid hurting your back again.
One Man’s Story:
“I started feeling sad and angry a lot. I didn’t want to do anything. My back was hurting more. I was having trouble focusing on my work. My life just started feeling smaller and smaller.”âRavi
Read more about how Ravi learned he had depression and how he fought back.
What Can Cause Lower Back Pain
Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:
- Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
- Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.
- Sprains , strains , and spasms
- Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
- Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
- Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.
Nerve and spinal cord problems
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Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
Whats The Role Of Chiropractic Care
Some doctors refer back pain sufferers to a physical therapist right away. But many people with back pain see acupuncturists, massage therapists, or a chiropractor on their own. Experts disagree about the role of chiropractic care, and there are not many high-quality studies to consult about this approach. As a result, there are a number of questions regarding the role of chiropractic care: Should it be a routine part of initial care? Should it be reserved for people who dont improve with other treatments? Are some people more likely to improve with chiropractic care than others?
The answers to these questions go beyond any academic debate about how good chiropractic care is. Estimates suggest that low back pain costs up to $200 billion a year in the US , and its a leading cause of disability worldwide. With the backdrop of the opioid crisis, we badly need an effective, safe, and non-opioid alternative to treat low back pain.
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One: Before You Visit A Surgeon See Your Family Doctor
Every patient should visit their primary care physician before seeing an orthopedic spine surgeon. Your family doctor will perform a medical exam to identify the cause of your condition. He or she can prescribe medicines for non-chronic lower back pain . These treatments may include analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants, and counter-irritants.
Additionally, your doctor can order chiropractic care or physical therapy as a first-line treatment option. Chiropractors are specialists that use spinal manipulation and mobilization to provide pain relief. Physical therapists use techniques including traction, massage, muscle manipulation, and biofeedback to relieve aches and mobility issues. These therapies may not alleviate your pain. If this happens, your primary care doctor will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. Contact an experienced orthopedic surgeon who can diagnose your lower back pain..
Incontinence Or Leg Weakness
If controlling your bladder or bowel has rapidly become a challenge, and/or your legs have been growing progressively weaker, you should seek immediate medical care.
Bowel and bladder incontinence, progressive weakness, and loss of sensation in the seat area are symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, which is a very serious condition. Cauda equina syndrome generally requires emergency back surgery.
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Back Pain Treatment In Westlake And Avon Ohio
Orthopaedic Associates, Inc. has an excellent orthopedic team comprised of 13 board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons who deeply care for our patients. We take your treatment seriously and will stop at nothing to ensure you find relief.
If you are ready to say goodbye to back pain, call us today at 892-1440 to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you in our Westlake and Avon clinics!
Where To Start With Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common complaints on the planet.
And when someone starts experiencing back pain it can be so frightening that we immediately want an expert that will somehow magically get rid of it.
Unfortunately, there’s just no unicorns and rainbows when it comes to solving back pain.
Realize that most back pain will resolve on its own. What I’m saying here is that your major ache or tweaked out back doesn’t require a specialist in most cases.
Some of the most common causes of acute or sudden back pain include an injury:
- to a muscle or tendon
- to a back ligament
- to a bulging disc .
And the reality is, many of these issues will eventually resolve on their own.
In my personal opinion, the first time someone starts to experience back pain, they should immediately start doing back extension exercises.
I would continue to do back extensions every 3-4 hours throughout the day for at least 3 days.
And if you notice that you’re feeling better, continue for another 1-2 weeks.
But if your low back pain doesn’t improve, then maybe there is something more serious happening.
More serious causes of back pain include:
- a narrowing of the spinal canal
- disc tears or herniations
- severe degenerative disc disease
- spinal infections
So if your back pain doesn’t improve with back extensions and modified activities, then you’d want to consider someone who is qualified to properly assess the situation.
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How Common Is Back Pain
If youre like most Americans, youll probably have back pain at some point in your life. Four in five adults suffer from low back pain. Luckily, most back pain goes away within one to two weeks. But if your pain is long-term or chronicand if you have certain symptoms with your low back painyou may want to see a spine specialist.
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
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Pain That Keeps You Up At Night
Back pain that keeps you up at night, or gets worse when you rest, is generally not life-threatening. That said, it’s best to get it checked, especially when accompanied by fever.
Back or neck pain with fever may be a sign of an infection such as meningitis. Infections can get serious, fast, so don’t delay that call to your doctor prompt diagnosis and treatment may save your life.
Indications Of Low Neck And Back Pain
These could vary from a lackluster throbbing to a stabbing or shooting experience. The ache may make it hard to transfer or stand up straight. Soreness that begins unexpectedly is serious..
It can happen throughout physical activity tasks or heavy lifting. Soreness that lasts higher than 3 months is taken into consideration consistent. If your ache is not far much better within 72 hrs, you need to seek advice from a physician.
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Be Proactive About Your Back Pain Treatment Plan
If the current treatment plan for your back pain isn’t working, consider researching various spine specialists on your own. There may be a different type of health professional who is better suited to treat your condition.
Before you see a specialist, write down a clear description of your symptoms and the treatments you’ve tried. This written record can help you to better communicate with your new doctor. Also, don’t be shy about seeking a second opinion if you think it will help alleviate your back pain.
Lower Back Pain: How To Tell If Its Muscle
When a patient visits my office with back pain, its my job to uncover the pain generator. We talk through the patients history, discuss their symptoms, and make a determination as to next steps. If need be, I prepare their case to be looked at by a surgeon, but generally, my goal is to help patients avoid surgery and find relief with more conservative measures.
Most cases of back pain are not caused by serious conditions. But its important to always rule out the possibility that a patient has another internal issue that mimics back pain . Colitis, kidney stones, gallbladder issues, vascular problems, or an aneurysm are examples of serious conditions that are capable of causing pain to radiate into the back, making it feel like youre experiencing back pain.
A thorough fact-finding investigation should help determine the cause. When did the pain start? How long did it last? What makes it better or worse? Key to determining the pain generator is the patients description of their condition and their medical history. For example, if a patient describes the pain as having come on suddenly and causing nausea, nearly prompting a trip to the emergency room, then disappearing just as suddenly, they may be suffering from a kidney stone rather than back pain from a spinal condition.
- Muscle pain
- Disc pain
Lets take a look at each type in more detail.
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Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
If you have had lower back pain, you are not alone. Back pain is one of most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work. Even school-age children can have back pain.
Back pain can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain. It can begin suddenly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time as we age. Getting too little exercise followed by a strenuous workout also can cause back pain.
There are two types of back pain:
- Acute, or short-term back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks. Most low back pain is acute. It tends to resolve on its own within a few days with self-care and there is no residual loss of function. In some cases a few months are required for the symptoms to disappear.
- Chronic back pain is defined as pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms at one year. Even if pain persists, it does not always mean there is a medically serious underlying cause or one that can be easily identified and treated. In some cases, treatment successfully relieves chronic low back pain, but in other cases pain continues despite medical and surgical treatment.
Learn About The Different Back Pain Specialists
When a back problem occurs, it’s typically a good idea to first consult with a primary care physician. This doctor will conduct an initial exam and, depending on the findings, he or she may refer you to a spine specialist.
If you are referred to a specialist for chronic back pain, it will likely be to one of the following:
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