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About Back Pain
Welcome to the Back Pain Health Channel by eMedTV. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems -- an estimated 8 out of 10 people suffer from it. Acute, or short-term, low back pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks and is usually the result of trauma to the lower back or a disorder such as arthritis. Chronic back pain is pain that persists for more than 3 months; it is often progressive, and the cause can be difficult to determine. Symptoms of back pain can include muscle aches, shooting pain, limited range of motion, and an inability to stand up straight.
 
What Causes Back Pain?
Causes of back pain can include:
 
  • Mechanical problems (such as spasms, muscle tension, and ruptured discs)
  • Injuries (such as sprains and fractures)
  • Acquired conditions and diseases (such as scoliosis and arthritis)
  • Infections and tumors (such as discitis, an infection involving the discs that cushion the vertebrae)
  • Stress.
     
Back pain is not a medical condition -- rather, it is a symptom of a medical condition.
 
How Is Back Pain Treated?
Back pain treatment is usually only necessary for chronic back pain, which is pain that lasts for more than 3 months. Acute back pain -- which is pain that lasts no longer than 6 weeks -- usually gets better on its own, without back pain treatment. Chronic back pain can be treated with or without surgery, although doctors usually recommend non-surgical treatments first.
 
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What Medications Are Used to Treat Back Pain?
Different types of back pain medication can include:
 
  • Analgesics
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Opioids (generally only prescribed for severe back pain).
     
What Are Current Areas of Focus for Back Pain Research?
There are a number of back pain research studies currently being conducted to better understand and treat back pain. Researchers are:
 
  • Examining the use of different drugs to effectively treat chronic back pain that has lasted at least 6 months.
     
  • Comparing different healthcare approaches to the management of acute low back pain (standard care versus chiropractic, acupuncture, or massage therapy).
     
  • Comparing standard surgical treatments to the most commonly used standard non-surgical treatments to measure changes in health-related quality of life among patients suffering from spinal stenosis.
     
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