Back pain can range from minor discomfort to severe or chronic pain that can significantly impact everyday life. At Physicians Immediate Care, we offer a comprehensive approach to treating the causes and symptoms of back pain. Our qualified health care professionals help you work towards the best possible recovery and promote the long-term health of the back and entire body.
What causes back pain?
There are many possible causes of back pain. Because the back supports much of our weight, pain in this area is a strikingly common health complaint. Back pain is commonly caused by physical trauma, strained or weak muscles, poor posture, problems with spine structure, and core strength.
What other symptoms can accompany back pain?
Back pain can be characterized as acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-term). Depending on the cause of your back pain, you may experience soreness, sharp pain, back spasms, or pain with movement. The location of your pain will also vary depending on the cause; lower back pain, middle back pain, and upper back pain are all possible symptoms.
Back pain may also be accompanied by pain or numbness in your arms, legs or neck. One possible condition is sciatica, where pain radiates from the lower back into the back, side, or legs. It’s important to take note of pain, tingling, and weakness in your body and report it to your medical provider when you seek treatment.
How is back pain treated?
The first step in determining how to treat back pain most effectively is to diagnose the cause of the pain. When you visit a Physicians Immediate Care clinic, a physical examination will be carried out to help your medical provider locate the painful area and test for range of motion, neurological function, etc. Depending on the findings, you may need this exam to be followed by a blood test, urine test, X-ray, MRI, CT scan or EMG.
Once you have a diagnosis, your medical provider will create a comprehensive treatment plan to address the cause of the pain and help restore your back to healthy functioning.
Some of the treatments that may be recommended are as follows:
The first course of action for many back pain cases includes the use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). These medications provide relief by reducing pain and inflammation. Many NSAIDs are available over the counter. In some cases, your physician may write a prescription for an NSAID or other anti-inflammatories that is more suitable for your particular case.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not an NSAID, but is another type of over-the-counter pain reliever that can be helpful in treating back pain.
Steroids are a type of prescription medication with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Taken orally or by injection, steroids can provide significant relief for lower back pain. The treatment time with steroids is typically short-term.
Exercise and Strengthening
Depending on the cause and severity of the pain, your provider may recommend exercise to help treat your back pain. Your provider can work with you to create an exercise plan that is safe for you, and that helps strengthen the muscles of your back, stomach, and legs. These muscles play a key role in supporting the spine. Strengthening these muscles can relieve back pain and help prevent future injury.
Your physician may also recommend back stretches to relieve muscle tension, increase the flexibility of the spine, and reduce back spasms and pain.
Trigger Point Injection (TPI)
Trigger point injection is used for pain that is caused by “knots,” known as trigger points. These trigger points can cause back pain by irritating nearby nerves. A provider can treat this condition using trigger point injections (TPI). The procedure, which normally takes only a few minutes, usually involves injecting a local anesthetic or saline, sometimes accompanied by a corticosteroid, into the trigger point. As a result, the trigger point becomes inactive and the pain is relieved.
What can I do at home to help my back pain?
A visit to the clinic is not necessary for all back pain. However, if your symptoms are severe or last for more than two weeks, you should seek medical attention. Whether or not you visit a health care provider, there are several things you can do at home to help your back pain treatment.
While your back heals, avoid activities that can significantly strain the back, as these could cause further injury. However, you should continue exercising moderately under your provider’s guidance. In most cases, exercise is more helpful for back pain than rest.
To decrease swelling, apply an ice pack to the painful area. You can also use over-the-counter painkillers to relieve pain and increase comfort.
If your back pain is chronic, make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable mattress of medium firmness. Sleeping on your stomach should be avoided. Finally, make a habit of practicing proper posture on a daily basis, especially when using a computer or sitting for long periods of time.
What other health care professionals might be involved in my treatment?
If your condition requires specialized care, your provider will refer you to the appropriate specialist. For back pain, you may be referred to spine specialists such as physiatrists, neurologists, rheumatologists, chiropractors, and surgeons. In addition, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and clinical psychologists may also help with treatment to reduce back pain or to better cope with the pain.
Where can I find a doctor or medical provider for my back pain?
It’s easy to see a medical provider at Physicians Immediate Care. RESERVE YOUR TIME ONLINE or simply walk into one of our many LOCATIONS NEAR YOU. We’re open 7 days a week, with extended hours so you can get seen faster.