So, You Have Back Pain?
Perhaps you did some strenuous yard work, or tried a new exercise at the gym, maybe you had some heavy lifting to do whilst cleaning the garage. And now you are left with back pain. One of the most frequent complaints that I hear is about lower back pain. In fact, about 84% of adults – according to reports – have experienced lower back pain at some point in their lives.
Lower back pain can be debilitating and of concern to those suffering from it, but how do you know when it is a serious medical issue, versus a common muscle spasm? When should you visit your physician?
If you develop back pain that does not radiate to your legs, has not proceeded an accident, and you are not experiencing any weakness in your legs…
• Apply ice for the first 24 hours, and heat thereafter, but it is important to limit the time of exposure to prevent skin burns.
• Stretch and avoid heavy lifting.
• Topical treatments such as menthol, the key ingredient
in Ben Gay and Icey Hot, is a great pain reliever that has virtually no complications attached (just make sure to wash your hands afterwards and keep away from your eyes).
• CBD (cannabinoid) cream, is a natural remedy derived from hemp oil, which can also be a useful form of treatment.
• Voltarin gel (which works for both back pain and generalized arthritis), that can alleviate pain
• If you’re still experiencing pain, use some effective over the counter remedies. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can be two useful remedies to alleviate inflammation and pain. However, it is important to check with your doctor before taking such treatments, to avoid any complications.
• For more extreme cases, some may benefit from physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massage care.
• Acupuncture and Float Therapy are two great methods for spasm related lower back pain. In my own practice, I refer many of my patients to our float facility, Lma Mineral Float, located on the first floor of the practice.
If your back pain does cause some radiation of pain to your legs, this could be a sign of a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The two are similar, but spinal stenosis can sometimes cause weakness alongside the pain in the lower extremities. It is important to visit your physician to get checked-out and treated if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
If a patient develops severe back pain and they are older, possibly suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia, an x-ray may be warranted, just to make sure they have not developed a compression fracture of their vertebrae. Leg weakness may reflect a medical emergency too, especially for those suffering from metastic cancer or those involved in a fall or other accident.
In summary, prevention is always the best medicine. Stretching regularly and strengthening muscles through exercise will pay off in the long run, fortunately though, the vast majority of back pain is short lived and can be treated using the variety of remedies that were discussed. If you are unaware of the cause and/or the pain is severe, it is better to err on the side of caution and visit your physician.
Dr. Keith Sadel is a board-certified Internist with over 23 years of experience. His focus is on preventative medicine and, more recently, has focused on personalized membership medicine. His goal is to merge modern medicine with age-old holistic practices. In addition to Preservation Health, Keith and his wife own and operate Lma Mineral Float, a holistic clinic on the first floor of his medical office. Lma offers float therapy in magnesium-rich water, sauna, and CBD remedies, all ailments to reduce stress, pain, and inflammation and to increase relaxation.
As Seen in The Doylestown Cardinal