Back pain is one of the most common painful and non-life-threatening conditions. It affects four in five Americans at some point in their lives. The good news is that back pain need not govern how you live your life.
If you have back pain, medication, exercise, and changes in your lifestyle are likely to offer the most relief. Surgery is useful in a minority of people
Most back pain isn't dangerous, but it's important to learn the "red flag" situations that require immediate medical attention. These include:
- back pain that occurs at the same time as a fever
- leg weakness that comes on abruptly or gets progressively worse
- numbness in the groin
- loss of bowel or bladder control
- pain that worsens instead of getting better
- inability to find a comfortable position for sitting or sleeping during times when you feel back pain
Other self-care steps you can take to mend your back include different types of exercise and complementary therapies such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage, as well as choosing the right mattress.
Back Pain Articles
Hot and cold compresses, physical activity, exercise, and safe lifting techniques help men to heal and to prevent low back pain. Recent research shows that acetaminophen (Tylenol and generics) has limited benefit for low back pain, but it remains appealing because it is safer for the stomach than other over-the-counter pain relievers. But acetaminophen is still a reasonable thing to try before moving on to less stomach-friendly options, such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and common aspirin.
A study found that likely triggers for episodes of back pain include carrying heavy loads; lifting loads in an awkward position; and being tired, fatigued, or distracted. Sexual activity and drinking alcohol were not tied strongly to new back pain.
Research suggests that when added to usual back pain care, massage can provide extra pain relief, better function, and quicker return to daily activities. It’s unclear what type of massage works best. For best results, ask your personal physician, family, and friends to recommend a therapist. Find out if a local hospital or medical center has an integrative medicine program with massage therapy. Check if the therapist is certified by a recognized professional group, such as the American Massage Therapy Association.
Chiropractic is a health care system that holds that the structure of the body, particularly the spine, affects the function of every part of the body. Chiropractors try to correct the body’s alignment to relieve pain and improve function and to help the body heal itself. A chiropractor may advise you about changing your biomechanics and posture and suggest other treatments and techniques. The ultimate goal of chiropractic is to help relieve pain and help patients better manage their condition at home.
You can make stand-up desk from an old door and two sawhorses, customize a store-bought desk, or pay a company for a ready-made one. Here are some options.
Chiropractic manipulation of the spine provided a small but short-term benefit in relieving back-related leg pain in a recent study.
Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks connective tissue in the body, injuring and sometimes destroying vital organs such as the joints, kidneys, brain, and heart.
The word "lupus" is Latin for wolf. Many people with this condition developed a rash on the face over the bridge of the nose and on the cheeks below the eyes that looks like the facial markings of a wolf.
Lupus affects several hundred thousand people in the United States. It strikes women more often than men, and blacks more often than whites.
Sciatica is pain along the sciatic nerves, the longest nerves in the body. The pain begins in the lower spine, passes through the buttock, down the back and side of the leg, and into the foot and toes. A common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk. It can also be brought on by spinal stenosis, infection, a broken pelvis or thighbone, or a tumor. Sciatica tends to affect people in their 40s and 50s, and it is more common in those who are overweight.
The main feature of sciatica is numbness, tingling, or pain in the lower back, buttock, and leg. It can be relatively mild or erupt into violent throbbing pain that grips the back and leg, making any movement excruciating.
Doctors recommend conservative measures first to treat back pain conditions. This rule of thumb applies to strain-and-sprain back pain as well as pain related to irritated nerves near the spine. After trying and failing to control back pain with conservative measures, injections of anti-inflammatory steroid medication may be an option. Research suggests that the average pain relief and improved function after steroid injections is small, though some individuals may benefit more. The effect of the injection is temporary and will not improve long-term outcomes. The therapy has risks such as infection, but these are uncommon. Having too many injections at the same location can cause breakdown of soft tissue and bone.
Low back pain is caused by disc rupture or arthritis. It can be treated with painkillers, exercise, physical therapy, steroid injections, or surgery.