Back pain

The spinal column is one of the most vital parts of the human body, supporting our trunks and making all of our movements possible. When the spine is injured and its function is impaired the consequences can be painful and even disabling. According to estimates, 80 percent of Americans will experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime. A small number of patients will develop chronic or degenerative spinal disorders that can be disabling.

Men and women are equally affected by lower back pain, and most back pain occurs between the ages of 25 and 60. However, no age is completely immune. Approximately 12% to 26% of children and adolescents suffer from low back pain. Fortunately most low back pain is acute, and will resolve itself in three days to six weeks with or without treatment. If pain and symptoms persist for longer than 3 months to a year, the condition is considered chronic.

Causes

Low back pain can often be attributed to complex origins and symptoms, and it does not discriminate. It can originate from identified muscle trauma, or an unknown non-traumatic event. Low back pain can also begin in other regions of the body and eventually attack the muscles or other structures in the lower back. Sometimes low back pain can even begin in the nerves or nervous system. Other origins for low back pain are postneural difficulties, congenital disorders, trauma, infections, degenerative disorders, inflammatory diseases, circulatory disorders or any of other 30 additional causes.

It is often difficult for physicians to pinpoint the exact cause of a patient's low back pain, because of the complex composition of the human spine. Bone, discs, muscles, ligaments, tendons and various other tissues are arranged like a three-dimensional puzzle to make up the spine. The complex make up can easily mask the exact cause of low back pain.

Symptoms

Low back pain is the most prevalent cause of disability in people under age 45, and of the $27 billion spent on all musculoskeletal trauma $16 billion is spent in the management of low back pain, more than half of that $16 billion being spent on surgical treatment.

If you have any of the following back pain symptoms, contact a doctor immediately:

1-Pain is worse when you cough or sneeze
 

2- Pain or numbness travels down one or both legs
 

3- Pain awakens you from sleep
 

4- You are finding it difficult to pass urine or have a bowel movement
 

5- Pain is accompanied by loss of control of urination or bowel movements

These important back pain symptoms could signal nerve damage or other serious medical problems. There are many other conditions that could be causing these problems, but an early and accurate diagnosis is vital for successful treatment.

Treatment option

The first order of business when it comes to lower back pain is to have an accurate diagnosis for your pain. Next, you should review treatment options. Most back pain can be managed conservatively, although some specific disorders require spine surgery. In most cases of back pain, patients will begin to notice relief within two weeks of starting treatment. Treatment options range from basic rest, ice or heat and gradually resuming activity to medication, exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture and surgery. See your physician for recommendations for treatment of your specific back pain. Make sure to educate yourself on the cause of your back pain, and look into the pros and cons of available treatment options, so you and your doctor can choose what's best for you. The most important thing is for you to be in charge of your own treatment and recovery.

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