Back pain can have a debilitating effect on nearly every aspect of life and can often lead to chronic pain if not treated early. That being said, there are many causes and explanations for back pain. It’s important to understand what your symptoms are telling you – should you see a doctor right away or not?
Here are some tips to consider before making the decision.
- modify your activities
- try over the counter remedies
- see a doctor for lasting pain
- consider your age
- pay attention to your legs
- throw fitness to the curb
- ignore weight gain
- be surprised by pain from a change in routine
- discount the effects of a bad cough
- forget to follow-up after trauma
Relative rest is an important part of the healing process. Although bed rest is not recommended for more than 2 days after a back injury, you should avoid activities that aggravate your pain.
Heat or ice can be applied for 20 minutes at a time and can provide relief of pain. Over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be tried as well to provide temporary relief while your body hopefully heals on its own.
If you experience your pain for more than four weeks, it is likely that it will not resolve on its own. Although you can try temporary relieving modalities as listed above, it is not a permanent solution. Make sure you visit a doctor to understand the root of your pain if it persists longer than four weeks despite relative rest and over-the-counter remedies.
It is not nearly as common for those under 20 to experience back pain. Because it is much rarer, it can be considered a red flag for more serious issues. Visit a doctor as a precautionary measure.
If you are experiencing pain, numbness or tingling that goes into your legs, be sure to consult a doctor. Additionally, if you are experiencing any weakness in your legs, it could be a symptom of a more severe problem like sciatica or fibromyalgia.
Poor physical fitness can cause your back muscles to weaken and cause discomfort. If your pain is not acute (sudden), try strengthening your back muscles before consulting a doctor.
Weight gain is also a common contributor to back pain. Especially when paired with a poor exercise routine, your back muscles are being put under increased stress without increased strengthening, causing discomfort. Before you see a doctor, first try to improve your lifestyle habits.
Sometimes a change in your routine, such as a new chair at work, a new bed, or even a new job that requires more time on your feet can cause increased back pain. Chances are that, as these muscles adjust to the change or increased usage, they will strengthen and pain will subside. If pain lasts for more than four weeks, see a doctor.
Sometimes back pain can happen as a result of a heavy cough. Heavy coughs can cause sudden and extreme stress to your back muscles or cause a disc herniation resulting in back pain. If pain persists despite over-the-counter remedies, you should see a doctor.
If you have recently experienced some sort of trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, and are experiencing back pain you should visit a doctor.
Back pain can affect your life in more ways that you can imagine. Unfortunately, it can also be a complicated diagnosis that has a number of potential contributing factors. Take a minute to assess your current lifestyle before assuming that you are facing serious back problems.