Back pain affects many (80%) adults at some point in their lives. It can involve the spine itself, the muscles and tendons around the spine, the nerves leaving the spine or the organs and soft tissues.
The pain itself may occur in the muscles that support your spine, along the spine itself and may travel to your leg(s). Most back pain stops on its own after several weeks.
Most causes of low back pain are related to the bones, muscles and nerves. It is not usually caused by internal organs. Treatment starts with correcting posture, proper body mechanics and strengthening the muscles that support the spine. Weight loss is often recommended for those who are overweight.
Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of the pain. Most low back pain usually respond well to time, proper body mechanics and core strengthening. Bed rest tends to increase the time it takes to recover and increases the risk of pain returning. Imaging such as x-rays or MRI is seldom needed for acute back pain but may be ordered in certain cases or if the pain does not respond to treatment. Your provider may refer you to physical therapy, a referral is required.
While most cases of low back pain typically recover within a few weeks, you should be aware of the warning signs of a more serious problem. It is important that you seek urgent medical attention when you have back pain and any of the following:
- Loss of control of urine or bowel
- Difficulty passing urine
- Fever of more than 100.4F
- Unexplained weight loss
- History of long term steroid use, history of cancer, HIV or drug use. Loss of feeling or weakness in your buttocks or legs