Common factors like being obese or overweight, or leading a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to bouts of back pain. Even for healthy and physically active people, sometimes a long day on your feet or a strenuous workout can cause temporary discomfort and low back pain. However, when the pain becomes chronic or affects mobility, it can be a sign of a spine condition like degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis. Here are some of the signs that it may be time to see a doctor and seek treatment for your chronic back pain and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of a Back Injury or Spine Condition
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chronic back pain is a common problem for both men and women. In fact, as many as 80% of American adults experience some form of back pain and stiffness at any given time. Depending on the cause, duration, and severity, back pain can usually be alleviated with over the counter pain relievers and rest.
What is Causing Your Chronic Back Pain?
There are several factors that can cause chronic back pain:
- Muscle strain
- Injured disc
- Nerve damage
- Joint damage or injury
Normal instances of back pain generally last a few days and then resolve on their own, and while resting and taking a break from overly strenuous physical activity until you recover is recommended, you should keep up your normal routine.
When to Seek Treatment for Back Pain
In most cases, back pain gradually starts to improve and goes away without the need for medical treatment within several days to a few weeks. However if your back does not improve after a few weeks, is severe enough that you have to miss work or have difficulty walking or moving, is accompanied with additional symptoms, or results from a fall, trauma from an accident, or sports injury, don’t wait to seek medical attention.
The additional symptoms to look out for include:
- Changes in bladder and bowel habits
- Unexplained weight loss
- Numbness or tingling in one or both legs
- Pain becomes worse or does not improve with rest
Spine Conditions that Can Lead to Chronic Back Pain
Approximately 98% of chronic back pain cases are due to mechanical problems like osteoarthritis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis. While it might seem counterintuitive, people who lead predominantly sedentary lifestyles, have poor posture, or smoke (which can cause the discs that cushion the vertebrae to become dry and brittle), are typically at greater risk for back pain and problems, especially with age, than highly active individuals. So sitting it out and “taking it easy” for too long can actually increase your risk of back pain.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Back
There are a number of minimally invasive treatments available for chronic back pain and injuries, and a comprehensive physical exam will help to determine the underlying cause and optimal treatment option for your situation. There are also a number of preventive measures that anyone can take to maintain a healthy back:
- Get regular exercise and try to limit sitting for long periods of time without taking a break
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Know your risk for certain spine conditions that may be hereditary
- Take proper precautions and wear the right gear when engaging in sports and exercise
How to Find Help for Your Back Pain
Many people live with back pain and stiffness for years, but it does not have to become a way of life. For more information, contact Oasis today by calling 844-203-5537 to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists, and try our online pain assessment tool to get started today.