What You Should Know About Back Pain

If you have low back pain, you are not alone.

What you should know about Back pain

If you have low back pain, you are not alone. At any given time, about 25% of people in the United States report having low back pain within the past 3 months. In most cases, low back pain is mild and disappears on its own. For some people, back pain can return or hang on, leading to a decrease in quality of life or even to disability.

If your low back pain is accompanied by the following symptoms, you should visit your local emergency department immediately:

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Numbness in the groin or inner thigh

These symptoms might indicate a condition called "cauda equina syndrome," in which nerves at the end of the spinal cord that control bowel and bladder function are being squeezed. Your physical therapist will make sure to clear this emergency and many other prior to initiating treatment.

The symptoms of low back pain vary a great deal. Your pain might be dull, burning, or sharp. You might feel it at a single point or over a broad area. It might be accompanied by muscle spasms or stiffness. Sometimes, it might spread into 1 or both legs.

There are 3 different types of low back pain:

  • Acute – pain lasting less than 3 months
  • Recurrent – acute symptoms come back
  • Chronic – pain lasting longer than 3 months

Most people who have an episode of acute pain will have at least 1 recurrence. While the actual cause of low back pain isn't often known, symptoms usually resolve on their own. Psychosocial factors, such as self-confidence and a perceived ability to cope with disability, have been shown to be predictors of who might not recover from low back pain as expected. We used to believe the cause of low back pain was related directly to the tissues of our body, but are now understanding the condition to be more complex.

Although low back pain is rarely serious or life threatening, there are several conditions that may be related to your low back pain, such as:

  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Fractures
  • Herniated disk
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tumors of the spine

While we used to believe the above list contributed directly to low back pain, research has shown these conditions are also present in people without any pain.

For more resources on low back pain, visit our Health Center for Low Back Pain.

At Advanced Balance Studio, Doctors of Physical Therapy will use their expertise, of  the musculoskeletal system, to manually treat your spine.   

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