Most back pain comes from sprains and strains caused by stressful movements: lifting something without using proper techniques or a sudden twisting motion are just two examples of how you can hurt your back.
If your back pain is caused by a muscle sprain or strain, it will usually heal on its own—just give it time. Your recovery can also be helped along by modest medical attention, such as over-the-counter or prescription medications. You could also use heat or ice packs, or even get a massage. Sometimes, though, back pain is caused by a more severe spinal condition, such as a herniated disc or spondylosis. Depending on the severity of your pain and its cause, you may require more involved medical help, such as physical therapy or even surgery.
Symptoms of back pain
Back pain is its own symptom. However, there are various ways to feel back pain, and your symptoms depend on what is causing your pain and where it is affecting your spine. Your back pain may be acute or chronic. Acute pain lasts four to six weeks, but chronic pain is persistent, long-term pain—sometimes lasting throughout life. At times, people with chronic pain can have episodes of acute pain. Back pain may be sudden and sharp—or it may be dull. Pain may occur with movement, and it may even occur with coughing and sneezing. You may also have numbness in your arms or legs. (Leg symptoms are often referred to as sciatica caused by a pinched nerve.) It’s important to treat your back pain properly.
Seek medical attention if your back pain persists—and seek immediate attention if you have back pain with any of the following emergency signs:
- Pain is getting significantly worse
- Pain affects every day activities
- Severe symptoms
- Groin or leg weakness or numbness
- Arm or hand weakness, tingling, or numbness
- Loss of bowel or bladder control.