Take Charge of Your Back Pain by Marina Furtado M.D.

Have you ever suffered from back pain?

You are not alone. Over two-thirds of all adults suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, back pain is the most common cause of disability in the US and third most costly disorder in terms of healthcare spending.

Many people who suffer from back pain think that if they get an X-ray or MRI, they will be able to identify the source of their suffering. However, only 20% of people with back pain get an objective diagnosis on X-ray or MRI. That means that the other 80% must rely on clinical findings from examinations.  Depending on the cause, the pain can recur several times a year. For some, the pain never goes away. Sadly, many patients suffer emotionally due to their disability as well.

So, what can YOU do about your back pain?

Do:

  • Learn about the cause of your back pain by consulting your primary care doctor. Your treatment options will depend on the cause of your pain.
  • Stretch, use warm compresses and take Tylenol or Motrin if needed.
  • Consult a physical therapist. Physical therapy has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of back pain.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have a back injury, fever, weakness or numbness in your legs, incontinence, history of cancer or osteoporosis.

Don’t:

  • Lay in bed for extended periods of time since bed rest will not help the pain.
  • Take narcotic pain medications since back pain has a tendency to return. Plus, narcotics are addicting.

In summary, be proactive and learn about your back pain. Take charge of your pain before it takes charge of you!

Marina Furtado is an Emergency Medicine specialist and volunteers in our community at Emerald City Commons