WHAT IS BACK PAIN?

About 80 percent of adults have back pain at some point, says the National Institutes of Health. Men and women both get back pain. It’s more common as you get older, and usually starts after age 30. Most back pain is in the lower back (lumbar spine).

Back pain usually:

  • Happens slowly over time because of changes in the spine from aging.
  • Starts suddenly after an accident or lifting something heavy the wrong way.

Rarely, back pain is caused by a serious problem like an infection or tumor.

Back pain usually goes away within a few weeks and often doesn’t need medical treatment.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Back Pain?

Symptoms depend on the specific type of back pain you have. Common symptoms include:

  • Aching, pain, or stiffness.
  • Sharp pain.
  • Back pain that goes down to the butt.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Pain that gets worse when you bend, stretch, or make other movements.
  • Trouble walking or standing.

Get medical care right away if you have:

  • Back pain from an accident.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Loss of control over your bowels or bladder.
  • Weakness in one leg.
  • Fever that doesn’t go away with over-the-counter fever medicines.
  • Stomach pain so bad that you can’t stand straight.
  • Weight loss for no reason with pain and loss of ability to move.

What Are the Treatments for Back Pain?

Most back pain goes away on its own or with self-care within a few days to six weeks. There are three general types of treatments for back pain: medicines, physical therapy, and surgery:

  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicines: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen:
      • NSAIDs like ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and Motrin) help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
      • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) relieves pain.
    • Opioid pain medicines like codeine or morphine.
    • Steroids, taken in pills or injected into your spine, to relieve pain and increase function.
    • Muscle relaxers for muscle spasms.
    • Anti-seizure drugs to relieve pain from damaged nerves.
  • Physical therapy:
    • Therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the lower back, improve movement and flexibility, and help you sit, stand, and move properly. This can include:
      • Stretching.
      • Weight lifting.
      • Aerobic exercise.
    • Heat, ice, massage, ultrasound, and/or electrical stimulation to relieve pain.
  • Surgery is rarely needed for back pain. It may be a treatment option if:
    • Nonsurgical treatments don’t work after 6-12 months.
    • You have nerve damage that’s getting worse.
    • You have a serious injury to the muscles, bones, and joints in the back.
    • The doctor can find the exact source of the pain.

WHAT IS NECK PAIN?

Neck pain is also common, especially in men and women age 50 and older. It usually goes away within a few days if the pain is from muscle strains and tension.

Most neck pain is caused by:

  • Muscle strains and tension: from things like leaning over your computer, slouching, or sleeping with your neck twisted.
  • Wear and tear on the rubbery cushions (discs) between the neck bones.
  • Injury after an accident.

Rarely, neck pain is caused by a serious problem like an infection or tumor.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Neck Pain?

Symptoms depend on the specific type of neck pain you have. Neck pain can:

  • Be only in the neck.
  • Be in the neck and shoulders.
  • Go down the arm too.

Common symptoms of neck pain include:

  • Dull or sharp pain.
  • Stiffness.
  • Muscle spasms.

Get medical care right away if you have:

  • Neck pain after an accident.
  • Neck pain that goes down into your arms or legs.
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs or trouble walking.
  • Severe neck pain with a high fever.

What Are the Treatments for Neck Pain?

Most neck pain goes away on its own or with self-care within a few days. Treatments include:

  • Ice or heat to relieve pain.
  • Pain medicines: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen:
    • NSAIDs like ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and Motrin) help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) relieves pain.
  • Opioid pain medicines like codeine or morphine.
  • Injection of steroids into the neck to relieve pain and increase function.
  • Stretching to strengthen the neck muscles.
  • Massage to help relieve muscle spasms.
  • Surgery is rarely needed for neck pain unless it’s caused by a fracture, pressure on the spinal cord, or certain other conditions.

YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO LIVE WITH NECK AND BACK PAIN.