Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a backache. Your hand is up, isn’t it? That’s probably because back pain is almost as universal as the common cold.
“About 80 percent of adults will experience back pain during their lifetime,” says Warner Pinchback, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “It causes an extreme amount of lost work hours, too.” In fact, it’s one of the most frequently cited reasons for taking a sick day.
|Long-lasting or chronic back pain could be sign of of a bigger problem.
The good news is that the most common cause of a backache is overuse and strain, which means pain should go away with time and a little TLC. However, if you experience long-lasting or chronic back pain, it’s time to make an appointment with your physician.
“The problem with back pain is that it’s very difficult to diagnose,” says Dr. Scott Strohmeyer, a Beaufort Memorial Hospital orthopaedic and spine surgeon. “We can determine if there is an anatomical reason for the pain and discuss treatment options.”
For example, if you’re experiencing leg pain with your backache, it could be a sign of a herniated disk. If you notice numbness in your arms or legs, it could be a sign of spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal) or it might be a side effect of arthritis, which can damage the spine. Just keep in mind that time can heal most (back) wounds. “Because the back is complex, sometimes treatment options have to be delayed to give things time to respond,” Pinchback says. Treatment may include prescription medication, starting an exercise or physical therapy program, or both.
If you’ve gone through all the conservative treatments and still have no relief for your back pain, surgery may be your option. Fortunately, such cases are rare. “Back pain is usually not a surgical problem,” Strohmeyer says. “With proper therapy, such as spinal stimulation, it will go away 99 percent of the time.”
If you're suffering from back pain, visit our website for more information on possible treatment options and other helpful resources.