This common ailment can often be treated at home—but not always.
Most adult Americans have dealt with back pain, especially in their lower back, and especially as they age. Lower back pain is one of the leading reasons why people stay home from work, and treatment for the ailment rings up costs of $50 billion or more every year.
Your First Steps
Most cases of lower back pain will go away in three months or less by following some simple steps:
- Taking over-the-counter painkillers: these include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, and acetaminophen
- Using cold compresses when an injury first occurs, then using hot compresses after several days
But if the home remedies don’t provide any relief within three days, you should see a doctor.
What the Doctor Does
The doctor will question you about other health conditions that may be connected to your back pain. Depending on the particulars, the doctor might have you undergo:
- Physical therapy
- A diagnostic scan, such as an X-ray, CT or bone scan, or MRI
- Alternative therapies, such as chiropractic, acupuncture or biofeedback
A doctor might also give you prescription drugs.
Depending on what scans reveal, your back pain might need surgery to be relieved. This occurs most often when there is nerve disease present or some damage to the nerves in the spine. In most cases, it’s best to wait from six months to one year after the onset of your back pain to consider surgery. Some conditions that can require surgery include:
- Bulging discs or bone spurs that put pressure on nerves
- Narrowing of the bone hole from which nerves emerge
- Cracked or fractured discs
- Some herniated discs
Residents of the Treasure Coast who have been diagnosed with a severe back problem are lucky. They can experience the expert care offered at the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at St. Lucie Medical Center. The highly trained staff offers such services as:
- Joint replacements
- Spinal fusion
- Minimally invasive surgery
- Pain management
If you or a loved one are dealing with back pain and would like a physician referral, call the institute at 1-800-382-3522.