Back pain is a common complaint and the majority of people in the United States will experience back pain at least once during their lives. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work.
Back Pain Symptoms
There are many causes of back pain. Some are due to consistent bad habits and some are self-inflicted. Additional back pain causes include muscle strains, sports injuries and accidents. Here are some symptoms of back pain.
- Consistent stiffness or aching along the spine, from the base of the neck to the tail bone
- Localized and sharp pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back
- Middle or lower back chronic pain that is caused after sitting or standing for a long time
- Radiating back pain from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes
Muscle spasms or pain while trying to stand straight
Diagnosing Back Pain
Before a doctor can begin treating back pain, tests may be performed to diagnose what is causing your problem. In order to rule out an infection or other systemic problem, blood and urine tests may be done. Additionally, other common diagnostic imaging studies may be ordered by your physician and include;
- X-Rays – X-rays are useful in pinpointing broken bones or other skeletal defects.
- Magnetic resonance imaging – An MRI may be used to analyze soft-tissue damage such as disk herniation.
- CT scan – A CT scan can be done instead for those who cannot have an MRI.
When To Call Your Doctor
The bottom line that everyone should remember is that if one is in doubt, consult a doctor. If back pain is getting worse over time, does not feel better with rest and over the counter pain remedies, and/or involves neurological symptoms then it is advisable to be evaluated by a back pain doctor.
In general, if the pain has any of the following characteristics, it is a good idea to see a physician for an evaluation:
- Back pain that follows an accident, such as a car accident or falling off a ladder
- The back pain is ongoing and is getting worse
- The pain continues for more than four to six weeks
- The pain is severe and does not improve after a few days of typical remedies, such as rest, ice and common pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or Tylenol)
- Severe pain at night that wakes you up, even from a deep sleep
- There is back and abdominal pain
- Numbness or altered feelings in the upper inner thighs, groin area, buttock or genital area
If you are experiencing consistent or painful back pain, call our Woodlands Primary Care division. We accept most insurances. Call 850-696-4000. To learn more about our advanced diagnostic imaging services, click here.