Back Aches, Pain and Stiffness

Back pain is a very common symptom in the general population, usually occurring as lower back aches, soreness, tension and/or stiffness. The pain can affect the lower back alone, or it may radiate to the leg, it develops suddenly, during physical activity or labor work. Back pain is usually caused by sprains, strains, minor injuries or irritated nerves. In rare cases, it may occur because of a serious damage or disease. Back aches may be a result of prolonged sitting, standing or constant poor posture. However, back pain and stiffness may occur without no apparent reason. The risk factors of the back pain include overweight, smoking, pregnancy, long-term use of medication which affects bone homeostasis, stress and depression.

What should a person suffering from back pain do?

As a back pain is not usually caused by some serious condition or disease, there is no urgency to visit your physician. The consultation with a pharmacist may be enough and the appropriate medication will be prescribed to relieve the pain. However, if the back ache continues or some additional serious symptoms occurs, consultation of physician must be considered.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of the back pain usually includes physical examination and previous medical history.
During physical exam a physician will assess your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift your legs, evaluate the range of back movements. You may also be asked about previous injuries, lifestyle, daily routine.

The golden standard of the back pain treatment is medication therapy. Drugs prescribed for the back pain and stiffness include paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen), codeine, in some cases – benzodiazepines, such as diazepam for muscle spasms.

Other treatment methods which are performed to reduce back pain and stiffness are exercises, physical therapy and nerve root blockade with drugs. Surgery for back pain relief is only recommended when all other treatment options have failed.

Self-help options

There is a variety of self-help options which may improve patient’s quality of life and relieve back pain:

• Lifestyle adjustment is important if back pain is caused by a daily routine or work. In this

case a person should try to change his daily behavior in order to reduce the pain.

• Manual therapy, such as chiropractic, can be very useful to many patients. It should

include up to nine sessions during 12 weeks and must be performed by a trained

healthcare professional.

• Acupuncture is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine which is based on the

insertion of very thin needles in different points of the body and helps to reduce lower

back pain.

• Cognitive behavioral therapy helps managing back pain by changing patient’s attitude

to his condition. People who performs this therapy are more likely to remain physically

active, which is also very important in managing back pain.