You don't have to let back pain put you up against a wall
Back Pain Information
Do You Have:
Pain, numbness or weakness in your back, legs or buttocks?
Symptoms that worsen when you walk, stand or lean backwards?
Symptoms that improve when you sit, lie down or lean forward (like over a grocery cart)?
If you do, you may have lumbar spinal stenosis. Lumbar spinal stenosis is a treatable condition caused by narrowing of the spinal canal. It is a common cause of gradually worsening back and leg symptoms in people over the age of 50.
Test Your Knowledge about Back Pain
Q. What causes back pain?
A. The most common cause of back pain is muscle strain, which happens when ligaments are over-stretched or torn. Other causes include emotional stress, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine), herniated disc, arthritis and osteoporosis.
Q. When should I see a doctor about my back pain?
A. Most back pain goes away on its own in a few days. If it doesn’t, and you notice other symptoms, such as waking up at night due to back pain or difficulty controlling bowels or bladder, you should see a doctor. If you have a history of cancer, arthritis or osteoporosis, you should also see a doctor. These conditions can affect the spine.
Q. How do I treat back strain?
A. Apply cold to your back for about 20 minutes every four hours. Do this for the first two or three days. This will reduce pain and inflammation. Then apply heat for 20 minutes at a time. This will increase blood flow and help relax tight muscles. Maintain your daily activities, as bed rest will only delay recovery.
Q. What are they symptoms of serious back pain?
A. Changes in bladder or bowel control, loss of control in legs, “pins and needles” numbness in lower extremities, unexplained weight loss or severe pain at night are just a few symptoms of serious back pain.
Q. What do I do if the pain doesn’t go away?
A. Back surgery is the last resort. Some physicians will recommend a rehabilitation program to stretch the muscles and increase flexibility. However, problems like a herniated disc may require surgical treatment.
Q. How can I avoid back pain?
A. There are many things you can do to decrease your risk of back pain: good posture, exercise, building up strength and flexibility, using chairs and mattresses that provide good back support, using correct lifting techniques, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.
Need a physician?
Physician referrals and information about doctors on staff at Southeast Hospital are just a phone call away, thanks to the Hospital’s HealthLine. The HealthLine, which also has information on patient services and programs, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-800-5123.