Back Pain

What can cause Back Pain?

Back pain can be caused by a collection of different things including sore muscles, herniated disks, fractures, arthritis and sprains, and strains due to bad habits. Bad habits include poor posture, repetitive strenuous movements, and exerting yourself recklessly as in pushing, pulling, and lifting things incorrectly. Some serious signs of back pain may include a history of trauma, unintentional weight loss, pain that’s getting worse rather than better after rest, nighttime pain, pain that is unresponsive to earlier back pain treatments, and a history of IV drug use. 

What are the symptoms of Back Pain?

Symptoms of back pain include aching or stiffness, sharp or localized pain, chronic aching, and trouble standing straight for an extended amount of time. When you are standing straight, it may elicit pain or spasms. It is important to call your doctor if you feel any of the following: numbness, tingling, or weakness. If you have pain radiating from your back down along the back of your leg, pain that increases when coughing or bending, pain accompanied by fever, burning during urination, frequent urination, or if you are having issues controlling your bowels or bladder. 

How to diagnose Back Pain?

Your doctor will start off by taking a thorough history to evaluate for specific etiologies of back pain. A physical exam is then done to localize the pain. First, your doctor will inspect from your neck to lower back, as well as inspecting your gait and posture. This may help reveal any anatomic abnormalities like scoliosis. Next, your provider may press on your back to evaluate for spine or muscle tenderness. Additionally, your medical provider will also assess your reflexes, strength, sensation, and range of motion. Special maneuvers like a straight leg raise will help identify if the pain is coming from a nerve rather than from your muscles. Other tests that may be done include blood and urine to rule out infections or a kidney stone. Imaging modalities include X-rays, MRI, CT, or nerve conduction studies to further assess the cause of your pain. 

How to manage Back Pain?

Most back pain subsides within a few weeks, however, if pain persists consider taking over- the- counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen or Aleve along with using heat to relieve any muscular pain or stiffness. It is also important to continue exercising as tolerated, light activity such as walking and maintaining the ability to complete everyday tasks is important. Bed rest is not recommended. If you have chronic back pain, sleep on a medium-firm mattress. If you have poor posture, be mindful of how you are sitting and standing, and try to correct these habits as slouching can put stress on your back. If back pain persists, gets worse, or is unrelenting despite these therapies then click here for more information.

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