BOSTON, MA — Some 70%–80% of men (and nearly as many women) have
endured a bout of moderate to severe back pain. And the problem goes
well beyond pain and inconvenience; the annual cost of medical care and
lost productivity is more than $50 billion. It would be encouraging to
report that this investment of time and money results in recovery, but
in most cases back pain will resolve as quickly without medical
attention as it will with a doctor's care, according to the November
2006 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch.
you have garden-variety back pain, you can probably take care of it
yourself. The trick is to know what to do and to recognize those
symptoms that really do call for prompt medical tests and treatments.
To help you help yourself, the November issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch contains a special supplement on back exercises.
the vast majority of cases, back pain is caused by a mechanical problem
that can't be pinpointed exactly. But occasional cases result from some
other, more serious causes. The possibilities include infections,
vascular disease, and tumors, among other things. That's why it's
important to know the "red flag" warning signs that suggest serious
problems. Among these are recent major injury, radiation of pain down a
leg, pain that is constant, pain in the upper back or chest,
unexplained fever or weight loss, and pain that increases at night.
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.