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The Most Common Cause Of Back Pain and Treatment

Updated on March 23, 2011

Next to headaches, back pain is the most common neurological pain for which patients seek medical attention.

Most adults at some time in their lives will suffer back pain, serious enough to cause significant discomfort that will interfere with work and daily life. Some back pain will just be an inconvenience that will pass in a few days. However, If you suffer sudden, severe back pain, you should see your physician immediately. Only your doctor, who understands your general health and other problems you may have, is qualified to decide on the best course of treatment for your particular problem.

Some general information may be valuable to have.

Back pain is most commonly caused by injury. Injuries to the back may be a result of falling or tripping. Improper lifting techniques such as twisting of the spine or a simple blow to the head can also cause back injury. Often overuse of the back can result in pain especially if it is accompanied by improper posture, when standing, walking, sitting, or even sleeping.  A bulging or so-called slipped disk can cause pain as it presses against the nerve.

There are factors that may make you more prone to develop back pain. These include a family history of back problems, being a women who has born children, being a male in middle age, and or anyone having a previously benign abnormality such as minor scoliosis. You may also be more prone to back pain if you are overweight, inactive, smoke, sit for long periods of time or take medications that contain corticosteroids which can weaken the bones.

Fortunately much back pain will disappear on its own. Even the pain of a slipped disk may disappear over time as the disk is reabsorbed.  If the pain remains for more than four days, even if it is not severe, it would be wise to visit your family doctor. He will make a decision regarding the need for anything further than simple home treatment.

Here are some suggestions to treat pain that is not considered serious.

Remain active and return to your normal activities as soon as possible, even if you may have to limit or modify some movements. Do not do anything that aggravates the pain.

Although you may feel like lying in bed all day, this is unwise and may even delay your recovery. Get up and move about as much as possible.

Ice your back for the first few days after the onset of the pain. This should be done every four hours and the ice pack should remain in place for no longer than twenty minutes. Ice will help reduce any swelling, and alleviate the pain.

Once you have finished with the ice, you can begin to use a heating pad to loosen up the muscles. Set the heat on low. Some practitioners recommend alternating the heat and cold. Before you try this, speak to your physician.

Gentle massage which does not increase the pain, may help with circulation as well as mild pain.

Avoid any sudden movements or turns. Twisting may have caused the injury and could certainly worsen it.

You may find over-the-counter pain medications are useful. Speak to your doctor or at least your pharmacist to find the one that is best for you. You must consider what other medications you take before adding a new one.

As soon as you feel that the pain has lessened, you can begin some gentle exercises. Walking is excellent but must be done only on level surfaces until strength returns.

Pelvic tilts done slowly and smoothly are excellent for a recovering back or any back. To do a pelvic tilt, you must lie flat on your back on a firm surface (the floor is best) with your knees bent and your feet flat. Slowly tighten your stomach muscles and press your lower back into the floor. Hold the position briefly and then return to normal. Repeat several times a day. Only do this exercise if it is comfortable for you.

There is a lot you can do that will prevent back injury, and back pain.

Maintain a normal weight. If you are overweight, the best thing you can do for your back as well as for your knees, and other joints, is to shed those extra pounds.

Exercises such as walking, swimming and biking help strengthen the muscles in your lower back. A recumbent bike is the best choice for those with back problems.

Increase the flexibility in your back, hips, and legs. This can be done by following a routine of stretching. Ask your doctor to advise you where best to learn this routine. Physiotherapist are an excellent choice.

Build your core strength and the strength of your stomach and back muscles. Again, a Physiotherapist can help you here. One visit may be all that is needed.

Sleep on a firm mattress and use a relatively thin pillow so your neck is in proper alignment.

Sit and stand straight. Choose chairs that give some support and if you must sit for long periods, put one foot (alternately) on a small stool or box relieve the strain on your back.

Learn to lift properly. Face the object you are to lift, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Hold what you are lifting close to your body. Lift and then turn around with your load. Never lift and turn at the same time. Get help if the load is heavy.

Stop smoking. Smoking damages your immune system and slows healing.

You only have one back. Take care of it now and it will carry you safely through life.


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    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for commenting Vespawoolf - it's strange how few people realize the benefits of a few simple stretches - regards - B.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      Nice, detailed hub. My husband has found that stretching has helped improve his back health, as you mentioned.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for your approving comment Belkis - I appreciate that you took the time to read this hub - B.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi Brian - because I am not a physician, I cannot give you any medical advice - you are so young and working in the mines is so physically demanding, you want to do what is best for your future - I can tell you that I have degenerating facet joints, that several years ago were so painful that I could only stand, walk slowly, or lie down, never sit - I was taking handfuls of pain killers every day - I was sent to a surgeon who said that surgery was the only solution - a week before surgery, I took a bad fall, and feared I had done myself more damage - I have no idea what happened, but strangely, the pain seemed to lessen slightly - when I saw the surgeon the day before surgery was scheduled, he noted that I was walking better - he decided to delay surgery - my back slowly improved - I needed fewer and fewer pain medications, and surgery was finally put off indefinitely - the facet joints continue to disintegrate but the pain is only slight, and or course I am not 24 and do not work in a coal mine - my father had back surgery, which eliminated his pain, but backs are tricky to deal with and each case is different - I have a friend with several disk fractures - she is in constant pain, but the pain is tolerable - also she does not do physical work - the only advice I can give you is to make sure you have a family doctor and surgeon that you trust completely - ask what your surgery would involve? - what the results would be? could he/she guarantee that the surgery would be a success? - would you still have pain? - how severe would it be? - could you still do the work you now do? - how would your ability to move change? (if they fuse bones as they did with my father, you may not be able to bend as far as you can now) - think over your concerns and write up a list of questions - if you do have complete confidence in your doctor, find another - I would also see if the company you now work for has any above ground positions available that are not so physically demanding - maybe your pain would be less severe if you did another type of work - my mother's father and brothers worked in the coal mines so I understand what you do for a living, and I admire you for it - I wish you the very best and hope you can find a solution that guarantee you a long and healthy life - regards, B.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am 24 an have two fractures in my back L5 an L4 I hurt all the time it's been two years an it keeps getting worse doctor said it would get worse I work underground coal mines what should I do back surgey?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Exellent :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Article

    • franciaonline profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      Good tips! Thanks for sharing.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      All good advice for back pain sufferers. Good Hub here. Thanks for becoming a fan!


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