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Erik A. Ward, DC
Low Back Pain – The Epidemic
NOVA Pain & Rehab Center
. http://www.novapainandrehab.com/

Low Back Pain – The Epidemic

Low Back Pain – The Epidemic
In this article, I will discuss what low back pain really is, what causes it and how it can be avoided or managed.
Back pain is as much a part of the human condition as the common cold. In fact, eight out of ten adults will experience an acute episode of back pain at some point in their lifetime. Back pain is the second most common cause of missed workdays due to illness and the most common cause of disability. Low back pain is very common, costing millions in lost work, as well as millions in medical, state and insurance resources every year. Many different structures in the back are capable of producing pain. There are the large nerve roots that go to the legs and smaller nerves that innervate (supply the nerves to) the spine itself. The large paired back muscles may be strained, and the bones, ligaments and joints may be injured.
If in doubt, consult your medical doctor or chiropractor.
The first thing is to rule out any other obvious conditions which also cause back pain.
There are a number of “red flags”, or warning signs you should be aware of. If any of them apply to you, you should see your doctor soon.
  • You are younger than 20 or older than 55 when you get back pain for the first time.
  • The pain follows a violent injury, such as an automobile accident.
  • The pain is constant and getting worse.
  • You have lost significant weight.
  • You continue to have great difficulty bending forward.
  • You have developed a number of problems in your nervous system (e.g; numbness, loss of power, etc).
  • You have developed an obvious structural deformity of your spine.

You should also see your doctor (either for a first visit, or for a follow-up) if the pain is continuing for more than 4-6 weeks. Occasionally your doctor will want to do other tests to look for the rarer causes of back pain.

Stay active. Many low back conditions that are not caused by a traumatic event (car accident or fall) may become more painful with inactivity.
The pain may force you to rest, but this is a result of the pain, and not a good treatment for back pain. If you have to take to your bed, limit it, if possible, to a day or two at the most.
The use of pain killers, muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medications may help to reduce some of the pain in the initial or acute stages of the low back condition. Consult your medical doctor before “sampling” with medications.
Avoid activities likely to put unnecessary strain on your back.
See your doctor if you think you are in one of the red flag categories.

For many unfortunate suffers, low back pain can be very debilitating. Many low back conditions can be progressive. Taking it easy or self medicating are not very good ways to correct most low back conditions. As with many physcial conditions, the sooner the problem can be diagnosed and treated, the less time may be needed to treat the problem. If left untreated, many low back pain conditions may result in surgery being the only option.

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