Back pain is a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life. It usually feels like an ache, tension or stiffness in your back. The pain can be triggered by bad posture while sitting or standing, bending awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly. The incidence of back pain has drastically increased. Approximately 90% of Americans experience back pain at different stages of their life. Back pain is not a disease; rather it is a symptom due to an underlying pathology.
Pain in the lumbosacral region (lower back) is the most common type of back pain. However, back pain may have a variable presentation.
- Pain localized to the lower back or pain radiating down the front, side or back of the legs
- Worsening of the pain with physical activity
- Aggravation of the pain at night or by sustained sitting posture such as long drives
- Numbness or weakness in the legs, which may result in difficulty to stand or inability to perform upward and downward movements of the foot
Overuse injuries are a very common source of lower back pain and stiffness, however, this usually goes away after a few days.
Others causes of chronic back pain include:
- Spinal disorders such as herniated disc, spinal stenosis, cauda equine syndrome, fibromyalgia, osteomyelitis and spondylitis
- Inflammation of the spinal nerves
- Disc tear
Less commonly, low back pain can be a sign of a serious medical condition and may be accompanied by symptoms like fever, chills, night sweats or loss of bladder control.
The diagnosis of the back pain includes medical history, physical examination and use of imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRI scan, CT scan and electromyogram or EMG. In some cases, blood tests such as sedimentation rate and complete blood count (CBC) may be also be ordered.
Management of back pain comprises of rest, improvement in sitting or standing posture and medications. Different classes of medications such as NSAIDs, opioids analgesics, muscle relaxants and steroids may be prescribed. Surgery is recommended in cases which fail to respond to conservative modalities of treatment and in conditions such as herniated disc and other spinal disorders.
Although most back pain should abate within 48 hours with a nonprescription pain reliever. In some cases, your pain could require immediate medical attention.
To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic specialists at Pinehurst Surgical call 910-295-0295 or to learn more visit: http://www.orthoinfo.org/