Acute Low Back Pain

What is acute low back pain?

Acute low back pain is pain in the lower back that has been present for six weeks or less.  Low back pain is a common condition and most individuals will experience it at some point during their lives.  Low back pain can be debilitating and greatly effect a person’s ability to perform daily activities.

What are the symptoms of acute low back pain?

Symptoms of low back pain can vary, both in type and severity.  The most common symptom is pain and can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation.  It may be localized to a specific spot or more generalized to the low back area. The pain could also radiate, or move, into one or both legs.  Other symptoms may include stiffness, weakness, or sometimes numbness, tingling, or changes in bowel or bladder function.  Symptoms may appear suddenly or develop gradually over time.

What causes it?

It is often difficult to identify the exact cause of low back pain.  Injury or trauma, such as muscle strains or ligament sprains, as well as other damage to the tissues of the low back may cause pain.  The presence of disease such as osteoporosis or cancer could also be a cause.  Other times, the exact cause is more difficult to define.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosing low back pain can be a difficult process.  To come to an accurate diagnosis, your physician will review your health history and perform a physical examination.  They may also recommend imaging techniques such as x-ray or MRI, or other diagnostic tests to assist.

What can I do for back pain?

Conservative treatment focuses on addressing the pain and restoring function.  Your physician may prescribe medication or use injections to control pain.  Physical therapy is often helpful in correcting possible causes and helping restore normal function.  If conservative treatment is ineffective, surgical options may be considered together with your specialist.

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