Why is my back hurting?

women_with_pain2One day, you’re walking through the grocery store just fine. Then, with one misstep, you find yourself in excruciating back pain.  You don’t know why, and you don’t know what caused the pain.

Almost everyone experiences some form of back pain. In fact, about 80 percent of people will experience pain in their back during their lifetime. To help you be prepared, here’s what you need to know about back pain:

What causes back pain?

Here’s the thing about neck or back pain — almost anything can cause it. Sometimes a fall, sharp movement or accident brings on chronic neck or back pain. Other times, the pain can be caused by aging or general wear and tear.

As you age, the discs that cushion your vertebrae slowly begin to lose the jelly-like fluid and shrink. When this happens, your nerves can become pinched, which is what may cause your pain. This is known as degenerative disc disease. Other causes of neck or back pain include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Bone spurs
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal Stenosis

Will it go away on it’s own?

For the most part, your back pain will go away on its own with conservative, nonsurgical treatment such as over-the-counter medications, low-impact exercises and the use of heat and ice. If you notice that your back is hurting, make a point to track when your pain occurs or worsens. This may be useful later if your pain doesn’t go away.

When should I see a doctor?

If your pain still persists after a couple weeks, it’s time to meet with your physician. He or she will ask you a series of questions about your pain, including what makes it worse. Your physician may request that you get an x-ray or MRI to help determine what is causing your pain.

Your physician will most likely encourage several weeks or months of conservative treatments to see if your pain goes away. This may include:

  • Low-impact exercises such as walking, biking or yoga
  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Physical therapy
  • Cortisone shots

If your pain hasn’t improved after several weeks or months, your physician may suggest a surgical option. Before you have surgery, make sure that you understand your options and thoroughly research all possibilities.


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