Back pain is a scourge of modern life. A direct result of lack of physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity, eight out of ten in the Western world have suffered from back pain that has resulted in the loss of a day’s work. With increasing westernization of Indian society, we too have far too many people missing work with back pain.
Usually, acute back pain lasts 24-48 hours and settles with over the counter analgesia and rest. Scans often do not reveal the cause itself. However, it is important to understand that there are certain types of back pain that can indicate something more serious and you should see your doctor or a spine surgeon immediately.
When do you see a doctor for back pain?
- Children are usually immune to back pain. But any child who wakes up at night crying with pain must immediately see a doctor.
- Back pain that radiates down one or both legs- pain that is lancinating in character
- Back pain that is accompanied by any weakness or numbness of the legs, neck pain that results in any weakness or numbness of the hands or legs
- Back pain with difficulty in passing urine or stools
- Back pain with fever and loss of weight
- Any person is known to suffering from cancer
- Any back pain that does not settle with rest and analgesia in a week to ten days
While prevention is better than cure, daily exercise, a healthy diet and measures to control excess weight go a long way in controlling the majority of back pain sufferers, please remember to see the doctor sooner rather than later of you have any of the above.
Dr Amitava Ray DM FRCSEd FRCS (Neurosurgery)
ApolloHealth City, Hyderabad