You Will have Back Pain

We do not have time for Back Pain.

But, unfortunately, there is a good chance we will all experience back pain at sometime in our lives.  The good news is that most episodes of back pain are not serious and resolve over time.

Physicians are always on the lookout for more serious causes of back pain.  Not to alarm the reader, but your physician will usually ask questions trying to see if you have any reason to suspect the more serious causes.   Typical questions asked are:

  1.  Have you had a serious fall, or injury?  If yes, there will be suspicion for potential break to the bones, or a significant traumatic tissue injury.  Depending on your complaints, your physician may order diagnostic tests such as x-rays or MRI’s.  If not, these tests may not be necessary in the short run, as you may improve, and not need them.
  2.  Do you have any history of cancer?  Unfortunately, people with a prior history of cancer may have back pain secondary to recurrence.  If you do have this history, and the pain does not improve within a few days, you should consider follow-up with your physician.
  3.  Are you experiencing fevers, sweats, or chills?  In rare instances, this could mean an infection causing your back pain.  People with prior histories of other infections, cancer, diabetes or any immune compromise disorder need to be aware of this possibility and should contact their physician.
  4.  Are you experiencing inability to control your muscles, or lose control of your bladder or bowels?  This is sometimes very embarrassing for patients to discuss.  But, if you are definitely losing control of your bodily functions and soiling yourself, you need to contact your physician immediately, or go to the emergency room for an evaluation. If it is a nerve compression, aggressive measures including surgery may be necessary.

Fortunately, most episodes of back pain do not have the associated problems above.

More typically, a person does not really even recall exactly what caused the back pain.  It can be something as simple as reaching for your shoes or twisting in bed.  Many people describe back pain in terms of “wrenching the back”, or “pulling something”.  Often times back pain is associated with a listing to the side, or spasms with restriction of motion.  In the end, as long as you are not experiencing excruciating and progressive pain,  you can usually wait, slowly stretch,  take over the counter medications such as Advil, and ice the area until you recover.

If the pain lingers for more than a few days, a visit to the doctor may be beneficial.  Your doctor will obtain a detailed history, and once it becomes apparent there is no significant concern, will counsel you on stretches, medications, mild muscle relaxers, ice, and time.  It can be frustrating, and we know we do not have time for back pain, but time will heal the back.  Then, your physician will counsel you on ways to prevent recurrence, or techniques to reduce the duration of back pain.

In the end, for most people, back pain will resolve.  To prevent or minimize future episodes, you should speak to your doctor about preventative techniques and regimens.

 

 

 

Hi my name is dr. John Shim and I want to talk about a topic that's very familiar to all of you and that's back pain. The truth is if you live long enough you'll have back pain. When you're in your teens some develop back pain that's related to sports or growth spurts it usually resolves. By your early 20s or 30s, 20 to 25% of you will have some back pain it may be activity dependent or positional based on how you sleep or how you sat but it's not an uncommon thing. By the time you're 50 and beyond eighty percent of us will have some episode of that pain that will interfere with our ability to work to take care of our family to do recreation and to enjoy life. That episode of back pain never happens when you have time for it usually you're in the midst of something very very important. I've had loads of patients come to me and say I'm on my way to my daughter's wedding and my back is killing me or I have to interview for this position in my company or at school and I really just can't handle it. It causes a lot of anxiety a lot of frustration and often leads to depression and sometimes fear because it doesn't seem to go away don't despair the news is good. While it affects 80 percent of us most of us can and will resolve as back pain over time without the need for aggressive medical treatments. You have to do things that make common sense. I've talked about this in many other videos. Keep your weight down, stay active and exercise, stop smoking. Understand that most episodes of back pain resolve over time without invasive treatments. As long as the back pain is not too severe and does not cause any nerve type problems like weakness to the legs or inability to go to the bathroom you can give it a few days you see if it starts to resolve. On the other hand if you have concerns and the pain increases or has associated weaknesses or losses of body functions you should call your physician to get guidance as soon as you can. In the end you might just need an evaluation from your trusted physician to make sure you're on the right track and your back pain is the typical episode that resolves over time. This is dr. Shim talking about back pain please understand is a part of life and I hope you'll get better soon but if you're concerned call your physician today. Thanks for listening.

Last modified: March 11, 2019

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