In America, most adults experience back pain at some point in their life. It remains one of the most common concerns patients bring up with their doctor. Back pain is often grouped by duration of symptoms, less than 12 weeks or greater than 12 weeks, and by associated symptoms. For example, whether there is associated leg pain, weakness, or numbness, which can point toward a more serious cause of back pain.
Fortunately, most back pain flare-ups will improve with time, typically within one month. During this time you can try superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation. The most recent guidelines for management of back pain lasting less than 12 weeks encourage starting with these non-medicine treatments. In the event your back pain is lasting longer, which is called chronic back pain, it is still recommended to initially treat with these non-medicine methods, including exercise-based therapy and stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, tai chi and mindfulness exercises. A multi-disciplinary treatment team may be recommended, which is not limited to but may include physical and occupational therapists, chiropractors, mental health providers, physicians who specialize in the treatment of low back pain such as physiatrists or pain management providers.
In the event your back pain has not improved with non-medicine measures, some medications have been shown to be helpful as additional treatment for symptom control. Consulting with the physician will ultimately best guide which medications may be beneficial for your particular symptoms. Some classes of medications have better evidence to support their use than others, and treatment should be tailored to you.
HFM has a team of providers who are dedicated to helping you decrease your back pain and remain functional. We strive to provide individualized care and connect you with the necessary treatments. Your primary care provider is one of your first points of contact in our system when it comes to addressing your back pain. We keep open communication with your primary care provider as we discuss medication changes and further testing. Next steps may include initiating a course of physical therapy at Rehab Plus, which can include aquatic based therapy, or connecting with Dr. Bown, our chiropractor. Our physician team will continue to guide your treatment and determine if further testing is needed.
Although many of us will have back pain at one point in our adult lives, be reassured that it commonly improves with self-care measures. However, if you are struggling with back pain which is interfering with your life, whether for a few day or several months, please mention it to your primary care physician or with our back pain providers.