Low Back Pain
The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is low back pain?
Low back pain is a common ailment affecting people of all ages. Almost everyone will experience some form of low back pain during their lives. It can range from a temporary discomfort to chronic, excruciating pain.
What causes low back pain?
Many factors can contribute to low back pain, including over-activity and strain, pregnancy, herniated disks, osteoporosis (weak or brittle bones), scoliosis (curvature of the spine), and other spinal conditions.
What are the symptoms of low back pain?
Symptoms vary widely, but may include:
- Constant, dull ache in the lower back
- Sharp, intense pain associated with certain movements
- Increased pain when standing, sitting, bending, or lifting
- Pain that comes and goes
How is low back pain diagnosed?
Your Hurley physician will conduct a complete physical exam and may order tests such as bone scans, bone density tests, CT scans, electromyograms (EMG), nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests, MRIs, ultrasound imaging, myelograms, discography, and/or x-rays.
How is low back pain treated?
There are several courses of treatment for low back pain, depending on the duration and severity of your pain. In general, it is a good idea to rest the back and to avoid physical activity and heavy lifting. Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees, gentle stretching and massaging, and alternating heat and ice packs can provide some relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may be used to help reduce pain and swelling, and over-the-counter topical anesthetic creams containing menthol or camphor can also provide relief. Wearing supportive shoes and avoiding high heels is also recommended.
If your back pain does not improve, your physician may recommend physical therapy, cortisone injections, or prescription pain relievers. Back braces, traction, and acupuncture can also be used to treat low back pain. Ultrasound therapy and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are additional courses of treatment that may be prescribed.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct low back pain. There are several different types of surgical procedures, and your physician can make a surgical recommendation based on your particular case.