Do you have back pain? According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), lower back pain affects 60 to 80 percent of people. Take a look at the top causes and how physicians can help patients with this type of physical discomfort.
An awkward twist can send your back into serious pain. The same is true for heavy lifting activities and repeated movements. Whether it's a one-time event or a repetitive stress injury, muscle strain can cause general discomfort and spams.
While physician clinics can't cure a muscle-related back injury, a trip to the doctor's office can help you to get a clear diagnosis and a treatment plan. Treatments may include ice packs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), steroids, or muscle relaxants. The medical provider may prescribe one of these medications or may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) option.
The disks in your back cushion the vertebrae (bones). If the material inside the disk bulges or breaks, the pressure on your spine can cause pain. Age-related wear and tear, improper lifting technique, repetitive spine strain, and traumatic injuries can cause a disk to bulge—or herniate.
Like muscle strain, some disk issues will heal over time. Severe or persistent pain from bulging disks may require surgery. The doctor will examine the area, recommend imaging tests, and diagnose the issue. If you do have a herniated disk, the physician may refer you to a surgeon. If the doctor doesn't feel you need surgery, they may prescribe an NSAID (or recommend an OTC version), epidural steroid injection, or physical therapy.
Even though muscle and disk-related issues are common causes of back pain, these aren't the only culprits behind this type of discomfort. The kidneys are located towards the lower part of the back. This can make it difficult to tell if your pain is back (muscle or spine) related or a kidney issue. A kidney infection may feel like a dull ache on the sides or flanks of your back. Unlike a muscle strain, this pain may not feel better when you rest and it typically won't get worse when you move. You may also have a fever, chills, or changes in your urine (such as dark or cloudy urine).
A kidney infection isn't a medical condition you can self-diagnose. You'll need a physical exam and lab testing (a urinalysis) before the doctor can diagnose or treat this issue. Unlike other types of back pain, NSAIDs or muscle relaxers won't help your kidneys. The doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate the infection.
If you're dealing with back pain, contact local medical clinics.