When you experience back pain, it can change the way you do everyday tasks. Seeking the right treatment can be a confusing thing to take on, but it is important how to identify when the right time is to seek treatment. Since there are many ways to treat back pain, the sooner it is taken care of, the better! Continue reading below to find out when it is time to treat your back pain.
Almost everyone experiences low back pain at some point in their life. Knowing when to seek treatment for back pain can be difficult. Back pain can be acute, meaning it subsides within weeks, or it can be chronic, meaning it lasts longer than three months. Back pain can also have many different characteristics ranging from a dull ache to sharp debilitating pain.
Obesity and bad posture are two of the major contributing factors to back pain causing muscle strains or sprains on the ligaments in your back. As people age the spine can also become arthritic which can cause pain as well. Patients may also experience traumatic events like car accidents, falls, or work injuries which result in hernatied/ruptured discs or fractures in the vertebrae. These can be more serious.
Given a few weeks, most back pain will resolve on its own with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to aid with pain relief. Heat and Ice can also be beneficial for inflammation and pain. You want to avoid strenuous activities, but you do not want to remain completely sedentary while your back tries to heal.
While many times, back pain can resolve on its own there are certain signs that it is time to seek medical help. If the pain is so severe that it keeps you from performing normal activities of daily living, or if it lasts more than two weeks you should seek help. Also, if the pain was caused by a traumatic event, or if the pain keeps you up at night you should also seek medical attention. If the pain begins to spread down your leg this could be a sign of a herniated disc and will also require evaluation. You can also have weakness, numbness, and tingling in the legs which is associated with low back pain. You should seek emergent medical treatment if you experience loss of bowel or bladder control secondary to an acute injury.
Many times, with conservative treatment measures like physical therapy, medication management and interventional pain procedures your pain can be controlled or even eliminated. Most patients who experience back pain do not need surgery however it is important to seek treatment when you begin experiencing pain so that you can be fully evaluated and have necessary imaging taken.