Most people have back pain at some time or another in their lives. WebMD says, “Most people have experienced back pain sometime in their lives. The causes of back pain are numerous; some are self-inflicted due to a lifetime of bad habits. Other back pain causes include accidents, muscle strains, and sports injuries. Although the causes may be different, most often they share the same symptoms.”
Back pain is one of the most common complaints that show up in the Emergency Room, according to Alan G. Shepard, M.D., Neurologist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, speaking to the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®.
“Some 60 to 90 percent of the population will experience back pain in their lifetime.
“Back pain is second only to upper respiratory infection as a cause for lost work time.
“Over 5 million people are disabled with low back pain which makes it the number one disability for workers less than 45 years old.
“The bad news is that no definitive diagnosis will be found in over 80 percent of the back pain cases.
“The good news is that over 90 percent of patients, even those with sciatica, will be better in two months regardless of the type of therapy given.
“Determining which patient with back pain is the ‘true emergency’ is one of the biggest diagnostic challenges that an emergency medicine physician can face. ”
WEbMD says to call your doctor if:
- You feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your groin, arms or legs; this may signal damage to the spinal cord. Seek immediate medical help.
- The pain in your back extends downward along the back of the leg; you may be suffering from sciatica.
- The pain increases when you cough or bend forward at the waist; this can be the sign of a herniated disc.
- The pain is accompanied by fever, burning during urination, or frequent and/or urgent urination. You may have an infection.
- You begin to have problems controlling your bowels or bladder; seek immediate medical help.