Brain and Spine Care
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Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care. Up to 85% of adults in the United States will experience it at some point.
The good news is that most people can lower their risk of developing back pain with simple lifestyle changes: But what causes it? And what can you do about it?
Causes of back pain
Sometimes, this pain is sudden (acute), especially related to a specific event or injury.
Other times, the pain lasts for months or even years, called chronic pain. You may be more likely to develop chronic back pain if you have
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Reduced flexibility
- A weak core
- Poor eating habits
How to prevent back pain
“One of the most common reasons for back pain is related to a strenuous event, such as lifting heavy objects or bending and twisting the spine, especially with poor body mechanics,” says Dr. James Dunlap, an orthopedic spine surgeon with Kettering Health.
- Be mindful of your nutrition, focusing on eating lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fat. You can work with a dietitian if you need extra support sticking to a healthy eating plan.
- Exercise regularly, including aerobic activities, core strengthening, and flexibility exercises. A physical therapist or athletic trainer can help you increase your activity levels safely.
- Maintain good posture as often as possible. This may mean adjusting your workstation by raising your computer monitor height or investing in a new chair.
When to visit your doctor
You might not need to see a doctor immediately. Sometimes, resting, icing your back, and stretching can relieve your symptoms.
However, Dr. Dunlap advises that if acute pain lasts more than a week or two, it’s time to see your primary care provider (PCP). “Your PCP will take a history of the event and perform a physical exam. This helps them determine what the inciting factor may be, your response to previous treatments, and possibly form a new treatment plan.”
Dr. Dunlap says that physical therapy is usually a good starting point for most patients. Others may also benefit from muscle relaxants, chiropractic spinal adjustments, or medical acupuncture.
Do I need medical treatment?
“The vast majority of patients with back pain will improve with nonoperative measures,” says Dr. Dunlap. But if noninvasive treatments aren’t effective, you might see a pain management specialist.
At Kettering Health Brain & Spine, pain specialists help you improve back pain through treatments such as steroid injections. If needed, our team of spine surgeons also offers multiple surgery options to treat any underlying conditions and improve your quality of life.