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Back Pain

Find Out When to Treat This at Home and When It’s an Emergency

Back pain is one of the most common ailments people face. From herniated discs to strains and sprains, it’s easy to hurt your back. In fact, 80 percent of Americans develop low back pain at some point in their lives.

You don’t want to seek treatment for every ache and pain, but you also don’t want to attempt to handle something at home when it’s an emergency. Find out when it’s an emergency and when you can get pain relief at home.

Lower Back Pain Causes – Why Does My Back Hurt?

If you’re dealing with pain in your lower back, you need to know the cause for an effective treatment. You might be surprised by the myriad of reasons people develop discomfort in their lower backs. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Herniated discs
  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Facet joint dysfunction
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Injuries

This is far from a complete list. First, your provider must examine you and run diagnostic tests to determine the source of the pain. Then, you can begin treatment.

When Is It an Emergency?

You should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you:

  • Cannot stand or walk
  • Are incontinent
  • Experience sudden and severe back pain
  • Notice the pain radiating from the back to the abdomen
  • Cannot feel your arms or legs
  • Lose sensation in the anal or genital areas
  • Experience the pain immediately following an injury

Can You Get Relief at Home?

If your symptoms aren’t severe, you can manage your pain at home. First, apply ice to the affected area for 48 hours. This will numb the site, which will alleviate the pain. Also, ice will reduce inflammation, which also provides pain relief. Put the ice in a towel and apply it to your back for 15-20 minutes several times a day. Make sure you don’t fall asleep when you have an ice pack on your back. If you do, you could end up with frostbite.

After using ice for 48 hours, switch to heat therapy. The heat will soothe your muscles while increasing blood flow. That, in turn, will promote healing. You’ll also apply the heat for 15-20 minutes several times a day, but only when awake. If you fall asleep with a heating pad, it could burn your skin.

In addition, walking can help you get relief. This will prevent your muscles from stiffening, which will make the back pain worse. Don’t push yourself to walk further than your body will allow but give yourself a chance to loosen up those tight muscles.

Finally, avoid bed rest if possible. Your muscles will stiffen if you spend too much time in bed, making the pain worse.

If you try to treat your back pain at home but it only gets worse, consult with your physician or visit the emergency room. After determining the cause of your discomfort, your physician can create a plan to address the underlying issue while providing pain relief.

Also, if your condition is an emergency, call 911 or visit the emergency room immediately. Your provider can help relieve the pain while treating the source.