The spine and back are made to provide a lot of strength, protecting the highly sensitive spinal cord and nerve roots, yet flexible, providing for freedom in all directions. But, there are many distinct parts of the spine that can create back pain, such as irritation to the large nerve roots that run down the arms and legs, irritation to little nerves within the spine, strains to the large back muscles, as well as any injury to the disk, bones, joints or ligaments in the spine.
Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks. Chronic back pain is typically described as lasting over three months.
Fortunately, most kinds of back pain get better on their own: roughly 50% of individuals may experience back pain relief within two weeks and 90% within three months.
If the pain lasts for a few days, gets worse, does not react to back pain remedies such as rest, using heat or ice, back pain exercises, and over-the-counter pain relievers, then it is usually a good idea to see a back doctor. There are two cases in which emergency medical care is needed:
Fortunately, these conditions are rare.
Diagnostic tests may indicate if a patient’s back pain is a result of an anatomic cause. However, because diagnostic evaluations in and of themselves aren’t a diagnosis, arriving at an accurate clinical diagnosis requires any evaluation to be correlated with the patient’s back pain symptoms and physical exam.
Injections may also be used to help diagnose specific types of pain. If an injection of a pain-relieving medication into a certain area in the backbone supplies back pain relief, then it affirms that’s the area causing pain.
By far the most frequent cause of lower back pain is muscle strain or other soft tissue damage. Although this condition is not serious, it may be seriously painful. Typically, lower back pain from a muscle strain will probably get better over a few weeks.
Treatment generally involves a short period of rest, activity restriction, use of hot packs or cold packs, and pain medications. Over-the-counter pain drugs used to treat muscle strain may include acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), Motrin, or naproxen (e.g. Aleve). Prescription pain medications may be recommended for severe back pain.
Typically, younger people (30 to 60-year-olds) are more likely to experience back pain from the disc space itself (e.g. lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disk disease). Older adults (e.g. over 60) are more likely to suffer from pain linked to joint degeneration (e.g. osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis).
Sometimes, a patient may experience more noticeable leg pain as opposed to back pain as a result of certain conditions in the lower spine, including:
It’s important to know the underlying condition that is the reason for the back pain, as remedies will often differ depending upon the causes of back pain.
There are many risk factors for back pain, including aging, genetics, occupational hazards, lifestyle, weight, posture, smoking, and pregnancy. With that said, back pain is so widespread that it can strike even if you don’t have any risk factors at all.
Patients with one or more of these factors might be at risk for back pain:
Generally, when the pain has any of the following characteristics, It’s a good idea to visit a doctor for an evaluation:
The bottom line that everyone should remember is that if a person is in doubt, consult a physician. If back pain is getting worse over time, doesn’t get better with rest and over-the-counter pain remedies, or entails neurological symptoms then it’s a good idea to see a back pain doctor.
Upper back pain is generally caused by soft tissue injuries, like sprains or strains, muscle tension caused by bad posture, or looking downward for long time spans (eg, texting, mobile phone use).
An episode of upper back pain can be actuated by distinct moves and actions, including:
Poor posture working at the computer for a long time without taking a break to walk around and extend, or in general can promote upper back pain. Both muscle fatigue and muscle pull, which often result from poor posture, can trigger the pain.
Usually, upper back pain is not a cause for worry; however, it can be uncomfortable, painful, and inconvenient. Also, if pain develops suddenly and is serious such as from an injury (eg, fall) and, certainly if pain and symptoms (eg, weakness) progressively worsen you should seek medical attention.
Generally, the next home treatments can help relieve back pain that is upper.
Your physician may prescribe drugs, like a muscle relaxant or perform trigger point injections to greatly help break up muscle spasms. He or she may also recommend physical therapy to increase flexibility, mobility and alleviate pain. Other treatments your doctor may suggest include acupuncture and chiropractic care.
Most cases of upper back pain resolve in 1 to 2 weeks without additional treatment. When you’re able to perform them without pain restart your regular activities slowly. Don’t rush matters, however: you could interfere with your healing and risk re-injury.
Low and lower back pain can differ from dull pain which develops gradually to sudden, sharp or persistent pain felt under the waist. Regrettably, almost everyone, at some point during life may experience low back pain that may travel downward into the buttocks and sometimes into one or both lower extremities. The most common cause is muscle strain often linked to heavy physical labor, lifting or forceful movement, bending or twisting to awkward positions, or standing in one position too long.
There are several different conditions that cause or lead to low and lower back pain. Many involve nerve compression (eg, pinched nerve) that can cause pain and other ailments. Kinds of spinal disorders include trauma-related and degenerative diseases; meaning age-related. A few of these spinal problems are given below.
If you have recently injured your low or lower back, here are some things you can do.
Caution: Never use a cold or heat source directly on the skin, always wrap it into something.
Low back pain is or becomes severe and persistent
The information herein on "Back Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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