Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms serious signs Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care back exercises pain in adults pain in children warning signs Prevention exercises proper lifting proper posture Underlying Cause Anatomy

Back Pain Overview

What is back pain?
A person with back pain has discomfort in the back. Back pain is commonly caused by a back injury, irritation or inflammation of the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks or spinal cord. Back pain is less commonly caused by inflammation, or diseased organs, within the abdomen or chest. Acute lumbar strain is probably the most common cause of back pain.

What are the symptoms of back pain?
Symptoms depend on the underlying cause for the back pain. Common symptoms include back pain, back stiffness, and tenderness overlying the back muscles. Symptoms of a more serious underlying cause for back pain include severe back pain that shoots down the leg, leg numbness, leg weakness, groin numbness, and difficulty urinating. Other symptoms consistent with a serious condition include fainting, excessive sweating, high fever, abdominal pain, and chest pain.

How does the doctor treat back pain?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause for the back pain. Minor musculoskeletal back pain can be treated with rest, cold compresses, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain control. Other treatments may include physical therapy, narcotic pain medications, and ultrasound therapy.

Continue to Back Pain Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 12, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Back Pain References
  1. Andersson GB: Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. Lancet 1999 Aug 14; 354(9178): 581-5. [10470716]
  2. Coste J, Delecoeuillerie G, et al: Clinical course and prognostic factors in acute low back pain: an inception cohort study in primary care practice. BMJ 1994 Feb 26; 308(6928): 577-80. [8148683]
  3. Hayden J, Tulder M, Malmivaara A, Koes B. Exercise therapy for treatment of non-specific low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jul 20;(3):CD000335. [16034851]
  4. King HA. Back pain in children. Orthop Clin North Am. 1999 Jul;30(3):467-74, ix. [10393768]
  5. Marriott A, Newman NM, et al: Improving the evaluation of benign low back pain. Spine 1999 May 15; 24(10): 952-60. [10332784]
  6. van Tulder MW, Koes BW, Bouter LM: Conservative treatment of acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of the most common interventions. Spine 1997 Sep 15; 22(18): 2128-56. [9322325]
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