Also, see your doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or drug or alcohol abuse.
Back pain often develops without a specific cause that your doctor can identify with a test or imaging study. Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:
During your initial visit with your doctor, you will undergo a complete evaluation to give the doctor the best chance at a proper diagnosis. A physician will be responsible for recording an in depth history, as well as carry out a thorough neurological workup and physical exam. If the doctor feels as though the problem is not solved, he or she will order further testing, scans or images to assist in the diagnosis.
Additional tests, scans or images may be ordered to diagnose the following:
Diagnostic tests aren’t necessary to confirm the cause of your back pain. However, if you do see your doctor for back pain, he or she will examine your back and assess your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift your legs. Your doctor may also test your reflexes with a rubber reflex hammer.
These assessments help determine where the pain comes from, how much you can move before pain forces you to stop and whether you have muscle spasms. They will also help rule out more-serious causes of back pain.
If there is any reason to suspect a specific condition may be causing your back pain, your doctor may order one or more tests:
In most cases, where back pain is at a moderate level, treatment most likely will involve a few weeks of in-home treatment, resting, and paying extra attention to it in order to impede the progress. While bed rest may seem to be the best thing for you in this case, it can actually cause your pain to get worse, it’s important to stay as active as you can without causing more pain. If the pain does not subside over the following weeks, contact your doctor for further treatment.
Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, which is equivalent to over the counter medicine Tylenol, or anti-inflammatory drugs, that are not steroids, including Ibuprofen or naproxen, may be mentioned by your doctor as the medication you should use to resolve your pain. If these medications do not have an impact on your pain, the doctor may consider muscle relaxants.
Studies have also shown that small amounts of antidepressants, specifically tricyclic antidepressants, have had a positive effect on chronic back pain.
At the forefront of back pain treatment, physical therapy can work wonders for a person dealing with this condition. Treatments vary from utlrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques that are applied to the specific area of pain. As the pain begins to minimize, you can continue the therapy and exercises at home with common stretching techniques that keep you flexible and strong, especially in your back and abdominal muscles.
When physical therapy and over the counter medications do not suffice, and the pain persists, as well as spreads down your leg, a doctor may go ahead and inject you with cortisone in the epidural area of your spinal cord. This will help decrease swelling around the nerve roots for a few months at a time.
Based on the doctor’s recommendations, you may also receive numbing medication along with the cortisone injected into the area of pain.
One of the least common treatments one that occurs when the pain is severe, doesn’t diminish, spreads to the legs, and may even cause other muscles to go weak, is surgery. The doctor will do everything he or she can to avoid this treatment, and usually hold off on it for pain that is associated with structural anatomical problems that don’t show any improvements to the other treatments.
A number of alternative treatments are available that may help ease symptoms of back pain. Always discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before starting any new alternative therapy.
Title: Cell-Based Therapies Used to Treat Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: A Systematic Review of Animal Studies and Human Clinical Trials
Authors: David Oehme, Tony Goldschlager, Peter Ghosh, Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld, and Graham Jenkin
Journal: Stem Cells International
Title: Medical Ozone in Herniated Disc: A Classical Review
Authors: Sardar K, Das G, Mahta P, Mallick S and Hubbard R
Journal: Pain & Relief
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