There are several causes of back pain, the common one include
- Lumbar Muscle Strain: This is the most common cause of low back pain.
- Ruptured intervertebral disc or herniated disc
- Discogenic Back Pain: This pain occurs due to damage to the intervertabral disc, but without disc herniation.
- Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal is a common cause of back pain in the aging population.
- Lumbar Spine Arthritis
- Pain in the lower part of the back or the lumbosacral area is the chief symptom of low back pain.
- Pain may be limited to your back or can radiate down to the front, side, or back of your leg
- Pain may become worse with activity, at night or after prolonged sitting such as on a long car trip.
- If your nerves are compressed you may have numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from the compressed nerve.
Tests and diagnosis
Diagnosing the exact cause of your back pain can be challenging because of the wide range of possible causes. Your doctor will take a comprehensive medical history and do a thorough physical exam as these are useful to diagnose the cause of pain. Medical history may include questions regarding location of the pain, time and pattern of the pain, your exercise program, history of injury and any other associated symptoms.
Diagnostic tests that may be performed to diagnose the underlying cause of back pain include
- X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan or MRI scan to detect fracture, degenerative changes in the joint
- Blood tests if infection, gout or pseudogout are suspected
Back pain usually improves within a few weeks, but in some people it can be persistent and can become a difficult and frustrating problem.
Rest and heat application: For most cases of back pain rest; simple analgesics like paracetamol, ibuprofen; heat application are effective to ease back pain. After the acute back pain is relieved avoid lifting, twisting, and physical exertion.
OTC pain relief: Paracetamol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, mefenamic acid are helpful in treatment of both back pain and the associated inflammation.
Exercises: Exercises to strengthen back muscles are important in treatment of back pain. Increase in strength and flexibility of back muscles, helps to relax the muscle and eases pain.
If these simple measures do not relieve your back pain, consult a physician to aid in the treatment of your condition.
- NSAIDs and narcotic analgesics: NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, mefenamic acid) and narcotic pain medications (morphine, oxymorphine) are excellent for relieving pain. NSAIDs in higher dose to relieve pain can cause side-effects such as GI bleeding, hence these medications should be avoided in patients with stomach ulcers. Narcotic analgesics can cause tolerance and dependence. Narcotic medications must be used under close supervision, for a limited period of time as prolonged use of narcotic medication can be dangerous.
- Muscle Relaxants: Muscle relaxing medications (such as carisoprodol, chlorzoxazone, methocarbamol, diazepam) ease muscle spasm, but may also make patients quite drowsy.
- Physical Therapy: Back strengthening exercises are the focus of physical therapy. If simple exercises do not relieve pain you may need to...
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