Back pain has many causes. It could be the result of a person’s poor physical shape, moving the wrong way, or even lifting a heavy object incorrectly. Conditions of the spine, including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis of the spine, may also cause back pain.
Everyone’s pain levels and tolerance vary. Your pain may feel like a dull ache, strain or shooting pain. It may be acute (last less than six weeks) or chronic (last more than three months).
Though it's possible to treat acute back pain at home with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, hot/cold therapy, and stretching/light exercise, you should monitor the severity of your symptoms. It’s important to make an appointment with your primary care doctor if your pain:
- Persists after a couple of weeks of self-treatment
- Is severe and keeping you from doing everyday tasks
- Is accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness or incontinence
Treatment Options for Back Pain
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may order an imaging or blood test to determine the cause of your back pain. Your treatment options will depend on the diagnosis.
Treatment options for back pain include:
- Alternative therapies (acupuncture, massage therapy, etc.)
- Corticosteroid injections
- Muscle relaxants
- OTC or prescription pain medicines
- Physical therapy
- Spinal fusion
Seek immediate medical care if your back pain is the result of a traumatic accident or comes on suddenly with a fever and/or nausea.
Depending on your diagnosis and treatment plan, your care team may include specialists from these services: