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Back Pain Archive

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Sore back? Try a massage

Updated February 14, 2015

Massage can be a helpful add-on to conventional medical care for back pain.

Images: Thinkstock

It can reduce discomfort and get you back on your feet faster.

Chiropractic helps a little with back-related leg pain

Updated December 6, 2014

Image: Thinkstock

Chiropractic is a popular alternative therapy for low back pain.

Chiropractic manipulation of the spine provides limited and short-term relief from back-related leg pain, reports a study in Annals of Internal Medicine. Shooting nerve pain in the legs, or sciatica, is a common problem for men with back pain related to spinal disc problems or narrowing of the space around the spinal cord (spinal stenosis).

When to get help for low back pain

Updated September 25, 2019

Image: Thinkstock

Pain from ruptured discs and arthritis doesn't have to flatten you. There are a variety of ways to ease lower back pain discomfort and reduce disability, often without drugs.

Spinal problems are the price we pay for walking upright. Wear and tear on our backbones and the constant pull of gravity on our vertebrae take their toll over time. Nearly every adult has had a stiff or sore back at some time.

Back pain: What you can expect from steroid injections

Updated August 16, 2020

Try conservative measures first to control pain, and know the limits and risks of cortisone  shots if you choose to try it.

Most people who suffer with back pain already know the drill: time heals this wound. Over weeks to months, the pain will calm down, and you will slowly return to your normal life. In the meantime, try to stay as active as possible and rely as much as possible on over-the-counter pain relievers to help avoid needing cortisone shots. Doctors call these shots corticosteroid injections.

But for some, these conservative measures may not relieve the agony soon enough—especially if the problem is back pain caused by irritated spinal nerves. After a few weeks, just getting to the bathroom may start to feel like Napoleon's winter march in Russia. At that point, you may be offered a cortisone injection to calm the war zone in your lower back.

Acetaminophen may not help low back pain

Updated September 24, 2014

The first advice you are likely to get if you have low back pain is "take a Tylenol." However a study published July 24, 2014, online by the journal Lancet indicates that you might do just as well without Tylenol, Panadol, or any of the other pain relievers containing acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen has long been recommended as first-line treatment for low back pain, but there wasn't much research to indicate how well it worked

Acetaminophen doesn't help for new back pain

Updated September 24, 2014

Image: Thinkstock

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) does not help people recover from new episodes of back pain, according to a clinical trial in The Lancet. The study involved 1,652 people with new back pain. They were divided randomly into three groups and assigned different treatments. One group took 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day of acetaminophen divided into three doses. Another group was told to take up to 4,000 mg as needed for pain. The third group took a placebo pill.

No matter which regimen people were assigned, their back pain subsided in about 17 days. Researchers also looked for differences between the groups in pain intensity, physical disability, changes in symptoms, overall functioning, sleep quality, and general quality of life, but found no effect.

Acetaminophen may do little for acute back pain

Published July 25, 2014

When back pain strikes, all you want is relief—as quickly as possible. Many folks turn to over-the-counter pain relievers to help take the edge off and keep them moving. Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin), are common and reasonable choices. Australian researchers tested how well acetaminophen worked for back pain that comes on suddenly (so-called acute back pain). Not much, it turned out. Among people who took acetaminophen as needed or on a three-times-a-day schedule, it took about 17 days for the pain to go away completely. Among those who took a placebo, it took 16 days. Does this mean that you shouldn’t bother to use acetaminophen for back pain? Not necessarily. But it might be worth trying cold, heat, and light physical activity.

Bad weather isn’t to blame for your aching back

Published July 11, 2014

It’s not uncommon for people to blame the weather for making their arthritis or back pain flare up. A team of Australian researchers has one word for that: bunk. They followed nearly 1,000 people who were seen for acute low back pain in several Sydney primary care clinics noted the weather conditions when the back pain started, as well one week and one month earlier. And they found … nothing. No connection between back pain and temperature, rain, humidity, or air pressure. The results were published online in the journal Arthritis Care & Research. This isn’t the first word on the pain-weather connection, and won’t be the last. If animals can sense earthquakes, then it may be possible for people with back pain, arthritis, or other types of pain to sense changes in the weather that the rest of us don’t notice. But we need good proof.

When is back surgery the right choice?

Updated June 13, 2014

More men are having spinal fusion, but make sure this is the appropriate solution before considering it.

The decision to consider back surgery should always come after trying nonsurgical or "conservative" options. However, when the pain is persistent and clearly related to a mechanical problem in the spine, you might talk to your doctor about surgery.

What's causing your lower back pain?

Updated June 12, 2014


Image: Thinkstock 

Most strains, sprains, and disc problems will get better on their own, but it may take months.

The top three causes are sprains and strains, herniated discs, and stenosis.

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