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The Pressures of Back Pain

Despite reports, there's not a real link to weather changes, but . . .

SUNDAY, Sept. 21, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Reports that back pain increases with changes in humidity levels and barometric pressure have persisted for centuries, but the association remains one of the world's great medical mysteries.

That's because doctors have yet to find any sound link between the two.

When barometric pressure drops, it's usually the sign of an approaching storm, and humidity levels may be on the increase at that point. For those sensitive to such changes, the combination of the two may be particularly noticeable.

There can be a variety of factors that cause back pain, ranging from stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine to sports injuries. Obesity can cause back pain by putting pressure on the spine and discs as well, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Lower back pain is particularly common, and, in fact, four of five adults will suffer such pain in their lifetime, says the AAOS.

The good news is that despite short-term pain, acute back pain typically goes away on its own within a few days or weeks, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Try using an ice bag or hot water bottle to help ease pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may also help.

Experts with the NINDS say that while you should take it easy when back pain is serious, prolonged bed rest is often not beneficial because it can weaken muscles. If pain does not subside within a few days in bed, if pain is severe, or if there is radiating pain, numbness, tingling or weakening, notify a physician immediately.

More information

Here's more helpful information from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons on lower back pain.

SOURCES: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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