Back pain is one of the most common ailments experienced by people all around the globe. It can range from mildly uncomfortable to downright debilitating, and it can be caused by a wide variety of underlying factors. Here, we’ll take a look at what happens when your back goes out and try to help you understand the pain.
So, What Happens When Your Back Goes Out?
When your back “goes out, ” it usually means that you’ve experienced some kind of sudden onset of acute back pain. This might be accompanied by stiffness in the affected area and limited mobility. There are many reasons why this might happen, including:
- Muscle strain or spasm
- Ligament sprain
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
Regardless of the specific cause, though, what’s happening is that something is causing irritation or inflammation in your back muscles or joints. This leads to discomfort as those structures struggle to support your weight and keep you mobile.
It’s important to note that while acute back pain can be intensely uncomfortable, it usually isn’t a sign of anything seriously wrong with your spine or other internal organs.
Symptoms Of Acute Back Pain
So now that we know why our backs might go out on us, let’s take a closer look at what symptoms we should watch out for.
Some possible signs that you’re experiencing acute back pain include:
- Intense localized discomfort in your lower or upper back
- Stiffness or decreased range of motion in your spine
- Radiating nerve pain
- A visibly swollen or tender area overlying an injured muscle group
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s essential to take steps to address them right away. Leaving acute back pain untreated can not only prolong your discomfort but also increase the risk of future injury.
How To Treat Acute Back Pain
Okay, so what can we do about this sudden onset of intense pain and discomfort? Here are a few basic things you might try:
Rest And Ice
In many cases, the best thing to do is simply give your affected muscles or joints some time to rest and recuperate. Applying ice packs intermittently throughout the day can help reduce inflammation in those areas and soothe any lingering soreness.
Many people find that taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be helpful for reducing acute back pain. However, be sure to speak with your doctor first before starting any new medication regimen.
Chiropractic Care Or Physical Therapy
For more serious injuries or conditions like herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, or fractures, chiropractic care or physical therapy may be needed. These treatments may involve more intensive interventions like spinal adjustments or targeted exercises designed to rebuild strength in damaged muscle groups.
When To Seek Urgent Medical Attention For Back Pain?
While most cases of acute back pain aren’t cause for concern and will resolve themselves with time, there are situations when you should seek medical attention immediately. Some red flags include:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Numbness/loss of sensation in the legs
- Worsening pain over time rather than gradual improvement
- Fever accompanying your discomfort
- Difficulty walking/moving/getting out of bed without assistance
If you experience any of these symptoms alongside acute back pain, don’t delay seeking medical attention. These signs could indicate a more severe underlying condition that needs immediate attention from a healthcare professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I get rid of acute back pain on my own, or do I need to see a doctor?
A: It depends on the severity of your symptoms. In many cases, things like rest and ice, over-the-counter medication, and targeted exercises may be enough to relieve mild-to-moderate discomfort. However, if you experience more severe symptoms or find that your pain isn’t improving after a week or two, it may be time to seek medical attention.
Q: How long does it typically take for acute back pain to go away?
A: This can vary widely depending on the underlying cause of your discomfort. For example, muscle strains might heal within just a few days, while conditions like herniated discs could take anywhere from weeks to months to fully resolve.
Q: What are some lifestyle changes I could make to prevent future episodes of acute back pain?
A: There are several steps you might consider taking:
- Practice good posture
- Engage in regular exercise/stretching
- Avoid sitting for extended periods of time
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support
By being diligent about these types of habits and making sure you’re not putting undue stress on your lower back muscles/joints, you may be able to significantly reduce your risk of experiencing another episode in the future.
Experiencing sudden-onset back pain can be scary and uncomfortable, but there’s usually no need for alarm. By understanding what’s happening when our backs “go out, ” we can better address our symptoms and speed up the healing process. Remember—when in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help if needed.