What's Going on Behind Your Back

Don't ignore your back painWhether you're walking, sleeping, bending, lifting or turning, nearly every daily movement can be affected by the health of your back.

Yet few people seek treatment for one of the most common maladies, often because they don't think it's serious enough for medical attention. Raj Mitra, MD, a specialist at the Marc A. Asher, MD, Comprehensive Spine Center, says there are many levels of back pain, each deserving its own treatment.

"Back pain can result from a number of causes," Dr. Mitra said. "Possible causes include damage to the muscles, spinal joints, discs, vertebral bodies or other impingements within the spinal canal. Finding the correct diagnosis is critical because that will guide the management."

To find out what is causing the issue, you need to see a physician. Schedule an appointment by calling 913-588-1227 or request an appointment online.

"Patients should definitely see a doctor if they have any weakness or are unable to function normally," said Dr. Mitra. "The most worrisome symptoms include progressive weakness, imbalance, falls or sudden changes in bowel or bladder function. The longer they wait, the worse the condition may become."

mitra-rajorshi-BWP00096Dr. Mitra stresses to make sure your physician takes time with you. "Our physicians will obtain a complete health history, perform a comprehensive examination and review any imaging records related to a previous or current injury," he said. "The physician should also review your diagnosis and explain your treatment in detail."

Since back health is so essential to your overall quality of life, it makes sense to know your diagnosis and understand your limitations with everyday activities, according to Dr. Mitra. Consider these helpful tips.

At work

If lifting is part of your job, make sure you learn to do it correctly. If you sit at a desk or workstation all day, be sure the position of your chair, computer keyboard and work surface are correct. Many companies provide ergonomic assessments to evaluate employee workstations for this purpose.

At the gym

Engage in a good exercise program that involves strengthening your core. For the best results, consult with an athletic trainer. Have a warm-up and cool-down period, and increase the intensity and duration of your activities gradually.

At home

Take care of yourself as you take care of your home. Take breaks during strenuous work, such as painting, digging a garden or shoveling snow. If you are having pain – stop. Be sure to try mattresses and pillows out at the store before making a purchase.

For minor back pain

The American Board of Internal Medicine's Choosing Wisely campaign recommends the following:

  • With your doctor's approval, try an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Remember that heat and ice are your friends. The old adage is "warm up and cool down," which means use warm packs before stretching and cold packs afterward.
  • Remain active. Perform low-impact exercises like stretching or walking, not overdoing any one activity.
  • Be active in a regular, safe exercise routine.