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Give back pain the boot

Jean Weiss

Provided by HealthMonitor

You're probably no stranger to an aching back, but you don't have to live with the pain! Here's a rundown of common culprits, with tips from rheumatologist Stephen Soloway, MD, director of Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates in Vineland, NJ.

The culprit
A stressed-out spine!
Too much stress on your spine can cause pain, says Dr. Soloway. The most likely offenders are bad posture or carrying too much belly weight.
" Self-care strategies: For short-term relief, you can try over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. But your best bet is to lose excess pounds and strengthen your core abdominal and back muscles to help support the spine and restore its natural curvature.
" ProfessionaL fix: Your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe stronger medication if back pain persists, and also recommend a physical therapist to help you with strengthening and alignment exercises.

The culprit
Strainedmuscle or ligament
When you pull a muscle or ligament in your back'whether caused by a fall or lifting'it can cause painful spasms and difficulty moving.
" Self-care strategies: You usually have to wait out a strain by taking it easy, says Dr. Soloway. You can also try OTC pain relievers, gentle stretching or a hot shower.
" Professional fix: See your healthcare provider if the pain gets worse or doesn't improve after a week.

The culprit
OA is caused by wear and tear on the spinal joints that provide motion in your back. Besides pain and stiffness, other signs include pinching, tingling or numbness. A physical exam and X-ray are the best ways to confirm, which is why it's so important to see your healthcare provider.
" Self-care strategies: OA back pain can be eased with OTC pain meds, exercise and lumbar
support when you sit.
" Professional fix: Your healthcare provider can assess whether prescription medications or physical therapy can help. If the pain is bad enough, numbing medication can be injected directly into the spinal joint.

The culprit
Herniated disc
Also known as a bulging or protruding disc, this shooting back pain can also be accompanied by pain that radiates down your buttock or leg. You can usually pinpoint the location of the herniated disc as well as when the pain started (e.g., after a car accident).
" Self-care strategies: In the short-term: See your healthcare provider and don't lift anything. For long-term relief, you'll need to work with your healthcare provider.
" Professional fix: Your doctor can prescribe a strong anti-inflammatory muscle relaxer and pain reliever. If that doesn't work, you may need to get an MRI. Your healthcare provider might also recommend physical therapy or losing weight to take stress off the disc.

Back Pain Osteoarthritis MRI Back Pain Joint Stiffness Low Back Pain Muscle Cramps Numbness Pain Stress Arthritis Exercise More Physical Therapy Essential Tremor Tingling

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