80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common medical problems. Back pain covers an extensive range, from constant dull throbs to sharp sudden pain, and can cause pain in your legs. Back pain is considered acute if its occurrence is sudden and it goes away within a few days or a few weeks. Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts for more than a few months.
Back Pain Symptoms
- Significant back pain lasting more than 3 weeks
- Pain in the lower back extending down your leg
- Leg pain increasing if you lift your knee to your chest or try to bend over
- Numbness and/or weakness in your legs during walking or other activity
- Pain that becomes worse during rest or wakes you up at night
- Back pain following a recent fall or injury
- Persistent bowel or bladder problems
Who is at risk?
Although 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their lives, certain factors will affect a person’s risk level. People over 40 are more likely to experience back pain, as it becomes more common with age. Factors such as fitness level, diet, and heredity may also affect stress levels on the back or spinal discs.
Back Pain Treatment
Over the counter medicationssuch as ibuprofen taken for a few days will typically relieve symptoms of back pain.
Sleeping with a pillow between or under the knees may help comfort symptoms of back pain.
Although no specific back exercise is proven to be effective in helping instances of back pain, regular exercise may help those with chronic back pain manage their pain.
When should I see a doctor?
- If you have experienced recent trauma such as a fall or car accident, seek medical attention immediately.
- If your lower back pain is worse at rest; it may be indicative of infectious or malignant causes of pain.
- If you have recently experienced an infection.
- If you have a history of prolonged steroid use