Back pain

is second only to the common cold as an affliction of mankind. It is pain which may or may not radiate below the knee (sciatica) and is usually gone in 1-2 weeks, 90% is gone within 2 months. It is usually caused by mechanical disorders from overuse of the back, aging, injuries, weight, and infrequently by disease. These diseases include osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis, tumors and spinal infections. Imaging tests such as x-rays and MRI scans are reserved for patients that do not respond to initial treatment. Treatment does not include bedrest. Instead, patients should continue their normal lifestyle while holding on any excessive exercises. Initial treatments include ice packs, heat, over-the- counter pain-relieving meds, and muscle relaxants if motion is limited. Narcotics are discouraged, and surgery is only needed if there is increasing weakness or loss of control of the legs or bowel and bladder function.

Smoking increases back pain and should be stopped. Resting or switching positions frequently and exercises to maintain motion and strength are important, physical therapy and NSAIDs can be helpful. Chronic pain treatments and disability may be needed.