Many back pain symptoms may be treated at home, but know when to call the doctor

Jun 3 2011
When it comes to back pain relief, most healthcare practitioners agree that conservative treatment options should be exhausted first before the affected individual seeks a surgical intervention.

The good news is that there is an array of non-invasive methods that can help relieve, or at least manage, pain symptoms in the long term.

Chief among them are lifestyle modifications. Although some cases of lower back pain result from pathological changes in the spine such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or spondylosis, many individuals experience this type of discomfort because of bad posture or a sedentary lifestyle, often due to an office job.

However, experts say that simple back stretches and short breaks for a walk may help prevent muscle tension that can lead to back pain. In addition to that, they highly recommend joining a local gym and engaging in at least one hour of cardiovascular exercise two to three times a week.

For more severe pain, anti-inflammatory medications, bed rest and application of ice and heat, interchangeably, may help in reducing these symptoms.

That said, it is important to know when to consult a doctor, as some types of back pain may be a sign of a more serious condition than stress tension or a pulled muscle.

According to, a health information website, pain that does not go away, or gets worse, after 72 hours of self-treatment may be a cause for concern. Similarly, symptoms such as numbness, tingling or weakness, especially if accompanied by fever or weight loss, should be promptly discussed with a physician.

Moreover, individuals should seek immediate medical help following a major fall or injury, or if the pain they experience is sudden and severe.

Finally, the news source stresses that pregnant women who experience back pain should contact their healthcare provider right away, as this may be an early sign of labor.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that back pain is one of the most common medical problems among today's Americans, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives.