by Brian Thwaites, M.D.
Take control of your back pain by incorporating the following suggestions into your daily routine. Sometimes just knowing there are steps you can take to get relief will ease the anxiety and helplessness that sometimes comes with the pain.
1. Most acute or new onset episodes of back pain are caused by strain involving a soft tissue such as muscle, ligament or tendon but may sometimes be related to a tear in a disc or injury to a joint. There is no definitive way to prevent back pain from developing. However, staying physically active, having good dietary habits, and keeping your weight down seems to help a great deal.
2. Most acute episodes of back pain will resolve by themselves or with conservative treatment such as anti-inflammatory medication, stretching or exercise regimen, heat/ice, electrical or ultrasonic stimulation, or physical manipulation. The typical healing process would last less than 4 weeks.
3. Occasionally, back pain is associated with radiation of pain into the hips or legs and may also involve numbness, weakness, or troubles with balance or walking. This likely represents nerve impingement or compression within the spinal canal. Common causes of these symptoms would include herniated disc and spinal stenosis
4. If you have hip or leg pain, numbness or weakness involving the legs, or trouble walking more than a short distance, or if your back pain has become a long-term problem, seek care from a spine specialist.
5. Your spine specialist may recommend an MRI scan or other studies to help determine the true cause of your symptoms. Further treatment options might include steroidal injections, nerve blocks, nerve ablation techniques, medications, and possible surgical intervention as well.
Sometimes, it takes a combination of therapies to stop or reduce severe, persistent pain and keep it under control. Some patients will need to see different medical specialists or therapists for their pain.
Brian Thwaites, M.D., is the medical director for FirstHealth Back & Neck Pain. Back & Neck Pain provides chronic pain sufferers with a thorough evaluation of their problem as well as access to a complete range of pain relief options, including the newest and most advanced treatments. For more information, click here or call (800) 213-3284.