Publication date: 2018-10-21 16:15
The prognosis for people with acute back pain associated with red flags (described above) depends on the underlying cause of the pain.
General recommendations are to resume normal, or near normal, activity as soon as possible. However, stretching or activities that place additional strain on the back are discouraged.
Back pain can have many underlying reasons, but often no specific cause will be found and the pain will stop. This chapter will review many of the causes of back pain and proper evaluation and diagnosis. Please be sure to discuss your individual symptoms as well as the suggested treatments with your health-care professional to determine the appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan for your circumstances.
The prevention of back pain is, itself, somewhat controversial. It has long been thought that exercise and an all-around healthy lifestyle would prevent back pain. This is not necessarily true. In fact, several studies have found that the wrong type of exercise such as high-impact activities may increase the chance of suffering back pain. Nonetheless, exercise is important for overall health and should not be avoided. Low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, and bicycling can increase overall fitness without straining the low back.
Home care is recommended for the initial treatment of low back pain. Bed rest remains of unproven value, and most experts recommend no more than two days of bed rest or decreased activity. Some people with sciatica may benefit from two to fours days of rest. Application of local ice and heat provide relief for some people and should be tried. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are useful for controlling pain.
The presence of any of the above would justify a visit to a hospital s emergency department, particularly if your family doctor is unable to evaluate you within the next 79 hours.
After your initial visit for back pain, it is recommended that you follow your doctor s instructions as carefully as possible. This includes taking the medications and performing activities as directed. Back pain will, in all likelihood, improve within several days. Do not be discouraged if you don t achieve immediate improvement. Nearly everyone improves within a month of onset of the pain.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has identified 66 red flags that doctors look for when evaluating a person with back pain. The focus of these red flags is to detect fractures (broken bones), infections, or tumors of the spine. Presence of any of the following red flags associated with low back pain should prompt a visit to your doctor as soon as possible for complete evaluation.
Back pain is a symptom. Common causes of back pain involve disease or injury to the muscles, bones, and/or nerves of the spine. Pain arising from abnormalities of organs within the abdomen, pelvis, or chest may also be felt in the back. This is called referred pain. Many disorders within the abdomen, such as appendicitis , aneurysms, kidney diseases, kidney infection , bladder infections, pelvic infections, and ovarian disorders, among others, can cause pain referred to the back. Normal pregnancy can cause back pain in many ways, including stretching ligaments within the pelvis, irritating nerves, and straining the low back. Your doctor will have this in mind when evaluating your pain.
Pain in the lower back or low back pain is a common concern, affecting up to 85% of Americans at some point in their lifetime. Many will have more than one episode. Low back pain is not a specific disease, rather it is a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. In up to 85% of people with low back pain , despite a thorough medical examination, no specific cause of the pain can be identified.