Back pain affects 90% of Americans at some time in their lives and is the leading cause of visits to the doctor. Low back pain is the most prevalent cause of disability in people under age 45. An estimated $100 billion is spent annually in the management of low back pain, with more than half spent on surgical treatment.
Spinal vertebrae are held together by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Between the vertebrae are discs, which act as "shock absorbers" and prevent the vertebrae from hitting one another when you walk, run or jump. They also allow your spine to twist, bend and extend. Since the lower back is the hinge between the upper and lower body and carries most of your weight, it is especially vulnerable to injury and is the site of most reported back pain. When lower back pain strikes, we become acutely aware of just how much we rely on a flexible, strong back.
Taking over-the-counter pain relief medications may help some pains, but typically these only mask the symptoms, or cover up the pain. To be truly effective, the root cause of the pain must be identified and healed, or the pain may persist, becoming worse. Oftentimes bed rest only increases the pain.
You May Notice
You may first feel back pain after you lift a heavy object, move suddenly, sit in one position for a long time, or have an injury or an accident. Acute low back pain is most often caused by a sudden injury to the muscles, ligaments, bones and nerves in the spine. (Medline Plus 2010)
It May Feel Like
• Tingling and prickling or burning sensations
What To Do
Depending upon whether the pain is acute or chronic will determine whether to apply heat or ice to the painful area. Stop normal activity and reduce strain on the area to decrease inflammation. When lying, rest on your side with a pillow between your knees in a slightly curled position. Bed rest is generally not prescribed for back pain as it may make it worse.
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