Back pain can be caused by many things, though, most commonly, poor posture, muscle of ligament strain, arthritis, osteoporosis, or herniated discs in the spine are the culprits. Usually generalized as lower back, middle back or upper back pain, this condition can occur at any age and have many levels of severity.
Common Symptoms of Back Pain
- Persistent pain: An ache or stiffness along the spine.
- Sharp pain: A sudden burst of pain, usually after lifting heavy objects.
- Radiating pain: Pain that seems to radiate outwards from a central area to other parts of the body.
- Chronic pain: Pain lasting longer than several months.
The first step in pain management is to locate the cause or source of the pain. When treating back pain, doctors are usually helped by their patients keeping a log of when the pain occurs, where it occurs and the severity of the pain they are experiencing. Be sure to include a rating of your pain from 0-10, with 10 being the worst, and if anything makes the pain worse or better.
Over-the-counter medications may be effective in treating back pain, though your doctor may prescribe heavier pain killers if needed. Physical therapy can be used to prescribe specialized exercises and stretches to help relieve pain. In severe cases, and depending on the cause of the pain, surgery may be required.
When to See a Doctor
If back pain is accompanied by numbness or weakness, it may indicate damage to the spinal cord. If the pain radiates from your lower back down the leg and into the calf, the problem could be sciatica, or damage to the sciatic nerve. Back pain accompanied by fever or upsets in urination or bowel movements should be checked immediately by a medical professional.
If your back pain is met with unintentional weight loss, a history of injury to the back or a family history of cancer, or if the pain does not subside within a month and is not affected by pain medications, you should seek medical attention.