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Lower Back Pain: Treat It At Home

May 6, 2008
What would you say is the second most frequent of doctor visits in this country? Some might guess heartburn; others might say a nagging cough. The answer, however, is lower back pain. The problem among adults 45 to 65 years of age is so widespread that over 75% can expect to be affected by it. If you are one of the 65 million patients in the United States who suffers from back pain, it is a relief to realize that only about one in ten patients actually need surgical intervention.

Lower back pain manifests itself in several different ways. Some patients have persistent aching in their backs, others feel excruciating pain shooting down their legs, still others become so stiff they can hardly straighten up. Weakness and numbness in certain areas can also be experienced. Part of the reason there are so many different sorts of pain is that there are over fifty different nerves that can be affected.

In 90% of the cases, the source of back pain is the motor and sensory nerves that run through the spinal cord and control all movement. These important nerves are surrounded by the bones of the spine and exit through holes to other places in the body. When these nerves are depressed for any reason, trouble follows. The back muscles seize in response to the nerve irritation, and pain and stiffness result. Sometimes a bulging disc is the culprit. Other times, the cause of the problem is a herniated or ruptured disc. Whatever the source, back pain can be debilitating.

You can effectively try to treat back pain on your own at home. Take an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, to reduce swelling. Taking it easy for a few days is recommended. Find a position that does not cause pain and rest. The idea is to halt the pinching of that nerve. If symptoms persist or if they worsen, seeing a doctor is advised. Tests can determine the cause of the pain and rule out more dangerous issues. Physical therapy may be ordered. Fortunately, in most cases, the pain can be eradicated without surgery.
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