What is Back Pain?
Dr. Matthew Schaeffer, M.D. Specializes in treating chronic back pain.
Back pain can include upper back pain, middle back pain, lower back pain or low back pain with sciatica. Nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis can result in back pain. Back pain symptoms may be relived with pain medication or pain killers.
Lower Back Pain
While lower back pain is extremely common, the symptoms and severity of lower back pain vary greatly. A simple lower back muscle strain might be excruciating enough to necessitate an emergency room visit, while a degenerating disc might cause only mild, intermittent discomfort. Identifying the symptoms, along with an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of the pain, is the first step in obtaining effective pain relief.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Certain causes of low back pain are more commonly seen to occur in younger people versus older adults. Young adults ( Age 30 to 60 yrs) are more likely to experience back pain from the disc space itself (lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disc disease) or from a back muscle strain or other soft tissue strain. Generally, these problems are caused by some sort of over-use or strenuous activity. Older adults (60+ yrs) are more likely to suffer from pain related to joint degeneration, such as osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis, or from a compression fracture.
When to Seek Treatment for Low Back Pain
Most cases of low back pain do not require urgent care, but patients should seek a doctor immediately if they experience low back pain as a result of severe trauma, or if low back pain is accompanied by any of the following:
- Fever and chills
- Unexplained recent weight loss, or recent weight loss due to trauma
- Significant leg weakness
- Sudden bowel and/or bladder incontinence – either difficulty passing urine or having a bowel movement, or loss of control of urination or bowel movement (cauda equina syndrome)
- Severe, continuous abdominal pain (abdominal aortic aneurysm)
If you are unsure, or you are experiencing chronic back pain, it recommended that you see a doctor.