Low back pain is one of the most common presenting complaints to Urgent Cares and Emergency Rooms. It is estimated that 84% of adults will experience a bout of low back pain at some time.
When should I be worried?
There are certain “Red Flags” that should cause you to seek medical attention. These “Red Flags” include inability to control your bowel or bladder, numbness in your genital area, a history of cancer or high risk for cancer, fever along with the pain, weakness in your legs, history of intravenous drug use, current use of high dose glucocorticoids, recent significant trauma, advanced age, history of severe osteoporosis, or pain that worsens with lying down.
What tests will be done if I go to my doctor, an Urgent Care or ER?
If the provider finds one of these “Red Flags” then x-rays or MRIs of your spine may be necessary. Additionally laboratory tests may be ordered to help clarify your condition.
If I don’t have “Red Flags”, but do have severe pain, what can be done?
The provider will try to reduce your pain with a combination of medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen. Muscle relaxers can also benefit some patients with severe muscular spasm. The use of opiates may be necessary for severe pain for a short period, but most providers will try to avoid using these because of their side effects and risk of addiction.
Do I need bedrest for my back pain?
Maintaining your normal daily activities has proven to speed recovery over bed rest.
Do you recommend chiropractic manipulation?
Many people report relief from spinal manipulation for their pain, but to date the largest studies show no benefit of manipulation over conventional medical therapy.
How long does it usually take to recover from mechanical low back pain?
In general, it is expected that it will take 6-8 weeks to get back to your baseline.
How do I prevent back pain episodes in the future?
There is some evidence to show that weight loss, physical exercise, and proper lifting techniques can reduce your risk of future episodes of low back pain.