About eight in ten of American adults have something in common. We’ve had lower back pain at some point in our lives. This annoying pain affects men and women equally. Maybe you have back discomfort right now.
The intensity of back pain can be dull or a sharp, sudden sensation. At its worst, lower back pain can be disabling. Lower back pain is a leading factor in work days missed.
Lower back pain can be caused by an accident, a fall, incorrectly lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time due to age-related changes in your spine.
A sedentary lifestyle can increase the chances of lower back pain, especially when a normally inactive life is punctuated by occasional strenuous activity, such as a hard weekend workout or a busy day doing yard work.
We divide low back pain into three categories:
What Can Be Done to Relieve Back Pain?
Low back pain usually goes away in a few days or weeks without special treatment. If the pain doesn’t go away on its own, visit with your health care provider about your treatment options. Surgery is rarely needed to remedy low back pain.
New guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP) offer doctors and patients some suggestions for nonradicular lower back pain relief. This type of pain does not irradiate from, and is not caused by, damage to the spinal nerve root.
The ACP guidelines are based on reviews of controlled trials and studies of noninvasive drug and non-drug treatments for low back pain.
The effectiveness of treatments can vary with different individuals.
For Acute or Subacute Pain — The ACP found these treatments may help:
If these treatments above aren’t effective, discuss with your health care provider options such as taking ibuprofen or a muscle relaxant.
Chronic Low Back Pain — Before taking medicines, try these treatments:
Here are some additional suggestions from the ACP:
If after trying these remedies, addition pain relief is needed, visit with your health care provider about taking ibuprofen, tramadol or duloxetine.
The ACP says opioids should be considered only if all other treatments have failed and only if there are more benefits than risks for the individual patient.
The American College of Physicians suggest you visit with your health care provider if you have back pain. When discussing treatment options, ask:
If you have back pain, your remedy may begin with some simple self-care you can start today. Or make a provider appointment to get a professional recommendation.