Back Pain- How Common is it?

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor.  In fact, only the common cold rates higher than back pain in terms of time lost from work.


Statistics suggest that at some point in our life, between 80 and 90 percent of us will suffer a disabling episode of acute back pain.
Unfortunately, if you have an episode of back pain there is a 50 percent chance that it will happen again.

Most doctors group back pain into two categories, acute and chronic, which refers to how long the patient has had the pain:

Acute pain will usually resolve in less than four weeks.
Chronic pain will last for several weeks, months or even years

In most cases, acute back pain will disappear on its own without treatment. However, when the pain starts to happen over and over again, or never truly disappears, most patients will seek some sort of relief.
back pain symptoms…

Just like the causes of back pain, the symptoms of back pain can vary.

For example:

  •     muscle pain tends to be felt as a dull ache that may or may not spread
  •     joint pain often feels like a sharp stabbing sensation
  •     nerve pain can travel to other areas of the body including the arms and legs.

Some types of back pain can be aggravated with rest and relieved with activity.  On the other hand some types of back pain are relieved by rest and aggravated with activity.
Occasionally, back pain is associated with the sensation of numbness, tingling or burning.  Muscle weakness in the arms or legs are symptoms that can be associated with back pain.

Although uncomfortable (or darn right painful), the vast majority of cases of back pain should not be considered a medical emergency.

 

However, if you combine back pain with the loss of bowel or bladder control you must get to the emergency department as soon as possible.
Also, if you have back pain associated with the inability to move your toes or if your pain has suddenly affected your ability to walk, stand on your tip toes or balance on your heels, a trip to the hospital emergency department may be in order.

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