Back Pain

Why do I have back pain?

Many people have back pain. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work. Spine-related issues occur because something is off in the way your spinal joints, muscles, discs, and nerves fit together and move. Anatomically, this is called a spinal motion segment.

When should I see a doctor for back pain?

Most back pain will improve with home treatment and self-care remedies within a few weeks. If your pain doesn’t improve or worsens, you need to see a doctor. In rare cases, back pain can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Immediate care should be sought if your back pain:

  • Causes bowel and/or bladder control problems
  • Follows a significant body injury (fall or accident)
  • Occurs with a fever
  • Accompanies unexplained weight loss
  • Increasing weakness or numbness
Most back pain can be managed with over-the-counter medication and rest. If it doesn't get better, it may be due to a more serious medical problem.

Additionally, back pain can:

  • Be severe and not improve with rest
  • Spread to other areas of the body like the legs or arms
  • Cause weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs

Back pain risk factors

Anyone can develop back pain–from children to the elderly, no one is immune to it. But, certain factors might put you at greater risk of developing back pain.

  • Age: Back pain becomes more common as you age. 
  • Lack of Movement/Conditioning: Unused muscles in your torso can lead to back pain. Proper exercise can allow your muscles to function better.
  • Excess Weight: Extra stress on your back and muscles will increase your chances of back pain.
  • Diseases: When the body is limited by disease, those diseases can contribute to back pain.
  • Poor Lifting Practices: Using your back instead of your legs can lead to back pain.
  • Smoking: Blood provides nutrients to the body and smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine. A lack of nutrients will limit the healing process.

Back pain prevention

Improving your physical condition and practicing proper body mechanics is the basis for back pain prevention. 

  • Exercise: A consistent and regular routine of aerobic activities can increase strength and endurance in your back. This will allow your muscles to function better and provide the necessary support.
  • Muscle Strength & Flexibility: Improving the strength of the muscles that strengthen your core (i.e. abdominal and back muscles) will provide a support system for your back. Increasing flexibility in the hips and upper legs will help the pelvic bones and improve comfort.
  • Healthy Body Weight: Extra weight puts additional strain on back muscles. Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent back pain.
  • Quit Smoking
  • Use Your Body Properly: Don’t slouch when sitting. Use a chair with proper back support. And lift smart by using your legs (or just avoid heavy lifting, if possible).

Is there a magic pill, product, or system for back pain?

Because back pain is so prevalent, people will go to great lengths to relieve their pain, & people will go to great lengths to make money off of this huge group of people. But ‘buyer beware’ as special back pain shoes, inserts, back supports, beds, pills, and programs may lack definitive evidence that they work. 

If you suffer back pain, schedule an MRI consultation today.