December 4, 2020 2:25 pm
We are tough on our backs. Although your back can resist a lot of force, you may find years of hard work, home renovations or sleeping improperly have gradually led to a nagging, shooting or dull pain. Low back pain is especially common for adults in the United States. Thankfully, you have options available to help resolve and manage this issue. Your primary care provider (PCP) should always be your first call when you experience back pain.
What Causes Back Pain?
Factors that cause back pain can range from minor to serious. Possible causes can include:
- Arthritis, or other inflammatory disease
- Excess pressure from being overweight
- Injury from a workout, playing sports, car accident, or fall
- Scoliosis, or other skeletal irregularity
- Sprain or strain
- Work-related stress, including repetitive movements, heavy lifting or poor posture at a desk
Learn more: Low Back Pain
Best Solutions for Back Pain
The solutions for back pain often depends on the cause. Your PCP may recommend starting with the following to find relief:
- Apply heat and ice. Try applying ice packs a few minutes at a time for the first 48 to 72 hours after you experience the pain. Then, switch to using heat with a hot pack or heating pad placed on the painful area.
- Move, as often as possible. When you’re in pain, the last thing you may want to do is get up and move—but lying in bed all day may further aggravate back pain. Research shows that aerobic exercise increases the flow of blood and nutrients to your back, which helps reduce stiffness and aids in healing. Give your back a short rest for the first few days of intense pain, and then slowly increase your physical activity levels with a gentle stretching routine. You can incorporate more aerobic exercise with time.
- Take medication. Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. If you’re already taking prescription medications, talk to your PCP to be sure any pain reliever is safe for you to take.
- Try alternative methods. While medication can provide quick relief, it shouldn’t be a long-term solution. You may benefit from complementary methods for chronic pain. Ask your PCP for recommendations. Your provider may suggest acupuncture, biofeedback, cognitive therapy, physical therapy or spinal injections.
Still in Pain? Get Help
In many cases, acute back pain may heal on its own with at-home remedies. However, if your pain continues, you should schedule an appointment with your PCP. Your PCP will be able to help you determine the cause of your pain—possibly using imaging services such as MRI or X-ray—and then recommend treatment solutions. In some cases, such as when back pain is chronic, your PCP may refer you to a specialist for additional care.
Sign up for valuable health tips and benefits from MRHC or find a PCP at care.mrhc.org/primary-care.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center