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Oh! My Aching Back
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist Dr. Robin Tomita of Tahoe Fracture and Orthopedic Medical Clinic takes some time to answer some common questions about pack pain.
What are some common causes of back pain?
Younger individuals have more trauma related lower back injuries. This can occur with sports, motor vehicle accidents, lifting and bending type injuries and falls. In contrast, older individuals can have a more slow and gradual onset of pain, and that’s usually due to underlying degeneration of lower back over several years.
Who’s at risk for developing back pain?
Unfortunately almost everyone is at risk. Approximately 80% of the population will experience an episode of significant lower back pain in their lifetime.
How can you prevent development of back pain?
Overall, it’s difficult to completely prevent the development of lower back pain. Things that can help include:
• Staying in good physical shape
• Using proper body mechanics when lifting and bending (ex. not bending to suddenly or rapidly)
• Maintaining good posture
• Avoiding prolonged sitting
• Knowing your limitations and not over doing things
What non- invasive therapies are available for treatment of back pain?
Fortunately most episodes of lower back pain (roughly 90%) will recover within 6 weeks without any specific treatment other than relative rest and activity modification. However, for lower back pain that lasts longer, consulting a spine specialist can be helpful to best evaluate and treat the problem.
Spinal injections, although they’re not truly non-invasive, can be helpful. This includes epidural steroid injections. In some cases alternative care such as chiropractic, acupuncture and massage can be of benefit. There are a variety of more controversial treatments that aren’t scientifically valid including mechanical disk lumbar disk decompression, lumbar bracing, herbal therapy and bio feedback.