A backache, also simply called back pain, can range from being a minor ache that’s always there to sudden sharp, stabbing pain. When it lasts less than six weeks, it’s known as acute back pain. Back pain that lasts three months or more is considered chronic. In some cases, the pain from the back can radiate out and spread to other parts of the body, like the legs or shoulders.
Any number of things can contribute to a backache. In many instances, it might be as simple as poor lifestyle habits piling up and, over time, contributing to the pain. Factors at play can include such things as obesity, inactivity, poor posture or smoking. Other times, a specific fall or injury leads to back pain. Back pain is also linked to other health problems like cancer and arthritis. Some conditions lead to serious and severe back pain, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis and spinal infections.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Backache
Most cases of back pain can be diagnosed with a medical history and physical examination. It's rare for more invasive tests to be needed. Similarly, the great majority of backaches can be treated in a simple manner. Most cases simply need a regimen of simple stretching exercises, as well as the application of hot and cold packs for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also a go-to tool for managing the pain.
However, there are instances where backache is far more serious and debilitating. Then, treatments will vary based on the nature and extent of the back pain, but surgery is sometimes needed to repair the back in extreme situations.
SOURCES: American College of Rheumatology; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Device developers say it offers professional quality and cost savings
Make sure your child isn't carrying too heavy a load
Outpatient prescriptions for spinal and orthopedic disorders identified as common triggers
With just a tap, wearable device eases stress, fatigue on lower back muscles, researchers say
Surgery should be a last resort for 3 common conditions, orthopedic expert says
Kennedy's private journey to fix his spine illustrates 'unfortunate pattern of treatment and outcomes'
Here's what increases your chances
Exercise alone may be best approach, researchers say
All that yard work and traveling can lead to injury, so spine experts offer safety tips
Study finds they are also more apt to get higher doses of the highly addictive painkillers
Yoga vs. Physical Therapy: Which works better to ease low back pain?
Age-old practice did as good a job as physical therapy, but neither was a cure for all patients
Age is no reason to avoid the operation, Norwegian researchers report
Study suggests it works as well as a full week of treatments
Yard work relieves stress but can wreak havoc on muscles and joints unless you protect yourself
But one specialist still isn't ruling out this complementary therapy
People over 50 tended to respond best, study finds
Does spinal manipulation therapy ease back pain and improve function?
Review suggests there's no quick fix for this common ailment, with only modest relief seen in most cases
Live tunes, singing and rhythmic drumming appeared to help ease discomfort after back surgery
Pregabalin, commonly known as Lyrica, didn't help patients with acute sciatica in study
Rates of PTSD and depression are higher, but so too are liver problems and back pain, study finds
Backaches, headaches and eye strain also go with the job but can be prevented, researchers say
Pain reduction aimed at reducing disc inflammation doesn't last, study finds
Another study casts doubt on notion that potent painkillers can really help
But older people have a higher risk of minor complications, study finds
Recommendations state opioid painkillers should be last resort for long-lasting pain
Review of 12 studies found small improvements in pain levels, function after 3 to 6 months
Patients who took NSAIDs were also 2.5 times more likely to suffer gastrointestinal side effects
Sports injuries are just one frequent cause, study finds
Certain behaviors can reduce your risk, doctor says
Study disputes weather's role in knee and back pain
Top 5 diseases, conditions accounted for $437 billion in 2013
Operation often leads to more comfortable lovemaking, study finds
High-frequency therapy helps block pain signals better than low-frequency treatments, study finds
Physical therapy, heat and ice packs, injections may help
Astronauts-in-training may benefit from core-strengthening exercises, researcher says
Patients worried about the potentially addictive painkillers; say they only provide limited relief
Patients knew they were taking a placebo and still obtained relief, study finds
Heavy, unbalanced loads can cause injury that is easy to avoid, experts say
Good sleep, ample exercise and sound nutrition are keys, doctor says
Playing video games hour after hour can trigger repetitive stress injuries, doctors warn
Lessen pain for better zzz's
Study suggests couples' disagreements may spur problems like back pain, heart trouble
It may signal a more serious issue
Some patients may benefit from a simpler procedure called decompression
Study found it bested cognitive behavioral therapy and usual care
To prevent straining your back
Sleep position and the mattress matter