Back pain symptoms can develop anywhere in the upper or lower back. When centralized in the lower back, this is called lumbago. Although about 90% of cases improve without back pain treatment, the pain can have a severe effect on quality of life. Chronic back pain may last for many years without lasting relief.
Experts generally agree back pain symptoms have been increasing over the last two decades. This is driven by sedentary lifestyle, more office-based occupations, and increased prevalence of obesity in American adults. Pain may be mild, moderate, or severe, and may change location over time.
Back pain is not necessarily caused by a severe underlying condition. However, stress on the body over time may worsen back pain and cause complications. For example, fused vertebrae occur when ligaments and discs between the vertebrae calcify and harden. Back pain may be one sign of this ongoing process.
Most back pain conditions are treated with over-the-counter pain medication. If pain becomes severe or debilitating, or it is related to physical trauma such as an auto accident, prescription pain medications may be used. These can run the gamut from opioids like oxycodone to medical marijuana.
Alternative treatments like yoga and chiropractic can be beneficial for some patients. However, if you are suffering from ongoing back pain, it is crucial to get x-rays and seek the advice of a back health specialist.
Millions of Americans are familiar with back pain. Even when pain comes with no major underlying condition, there is always the risk of long-term degeneration of spinal structures – a serious problem. Back pain clinical research is essential to improving day-to-day pain management. With further back pain clinical trials, relief may finally be in sight, and important lessons can be applied to other pain conditions.