Published on January 19, 2023

How Long Back Pain can Last (Know the Facts)

Living with back pain can strain a person’s well-being which is why it is important to have it checked out, so the root of the problem can be uncovered. Knowing what is causing the back pain allows your doctor to recommend the correct treatment. 

This article will discuss how long back pain can last, focusing on how long pain is present before you should visit a doctor, and how quickly treatment can resolve the issue. 

Symptoms that are associated with Back Pain

Back pain can be caused by many things, including medical conditions, injuries, or diseases. It is advised to visit a doctor as soon as possible if you have been suffering from back pain, but as well as the pains and aches, you should also keep an eye out for the following symptoms.

  • Unexpected or unexplained weight loss
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Swelling or inflammation around the painful area
  • Lying down does not ease the pain
  • Pain in the legs, possibly reaching below the knees
  • Bladder and bowel problems, including a lack of control
  • Numbness in the groin and buttocks

The symptoms above can be associated with a number of conditions which we will now provide an overview of. 

Possible Causes of Back Pain

The causes of back pain can be broken down into four main categories. 

Injuries and Strains

  • Sprains – Sprains are overstretched, or perhaps even torn ligaments.
  • Strains – Strains are tears in tendons or muscles.
  • Spasms – Sudden muscle contractions
  • Trauma – This can be the result of an accident or a sports injury, causing an impact injury to a tendon, ligament, or muscle. As a result, this can cause compression of the spinal cord, or a ruptured or herniated disc. 
  • Bone Injuries – This can include a fractured vertebra, as a result of trauma.  

As well as an accident or sports injury, the above problems could also be caused by the improper lifting of objects, lifting something that is too heavy, or making a sudden, unnatural movement. 

Congenital

Skeletal Irregularities – Irregularities in a person’s skeletal structure can include curvature of the spine (Scoliosis), an overly large arch in the lower back (Lordosis), A prominent outward arch on the spine (Kyphosis), and other abnormalities. 

Spina Bifida – This congenital condition is when the spinal cord or its protective layer does not fully develop. This can result in deformed vertebrae, irregular feelings in the spine, and in some extreme cases, paralysis.

Degenerative Conditions

Spondylosis – This condition relates to deterioration in any part of the spine and is caused by the general aging process, and wear and tear in joints, bones, and discs. 

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) – A condition when the spine or other areas become inflamed, resulting in pain and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis – Arthritis in the spine is the wearing down of the vertebrae, causing them to rub together when a person moves.

Intervertebral Disc Degeneration – Occurs when the cushioned tissue in the discs in the spine wears down over time.

Nerve and Spinal Cord Problems

Sciatica – This is when there is pressure applied to the sciatic nerve which travels down through the buttocks and the back of the legs, causing a tingling or burning sensation.

Spinal Stenosis – Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal column which places pressure on the spinal cord or surrounding nerves. This can happen in any part of the back.

Spondylolisthesis – Caused by a vertebra in the lower spine slipping out of place and coming into contact with the nerves.

Herniated or Ruptured Discs – Occurs when the discs between the vertebra compress on the nerves, or the soft tissue within the disc are pushed out of the outer lining. 

Infections – Parts of the spine can also become infected, including the vertebrae (osteomyelitis), the discs (discitis), and the sacroiliac joints (sacroiliitis).

Osteoporosis – A disease that reduces bone density, potentially causing fractures of the vertebrae. 

There are also non-spinal issues that could contribute to back pain, such as; kidney stones; tumors; endometriosis; fibromyalgia; and pregnancy.

When should you visit a Doctor about your Back Pain?

In most cases, back pain can be managed with self-care measures such as over-the-counter pain medications, heat or ice therapy, and gentle stretching exercises.

However, there are certain situations when it’s important to see a doctor for back pain:

  • If the pain is severe or persistent: If you are experiencing severe or persistent back pain that is not relieved by self-care measures, it’s important to see a doctor.
  • If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms: Seek medical attention if your back pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or difficulty walking or standing.
  • If the pain is affecting your daily activities: If your back pain is interfering with your ability to perform everyday activities, such as dressing, bathing, or driving, it’s important to see a doctor.

If the pain is the result of an injury: If you have recently injured your back, it’s essential to see a doctor to determine the extent of the damage and get appropriate treatment.

How long can Back Pain last?

The duration of back pain can vary greatly depending on the cause of the pain and the effectiveness of treatment. In most cases, back pain will resolve on its own within a few days to a few weeks with self-care measures such as over-the-counter pain medications, heat or ice therapy, and gentle stretching exercises.

However, some people may experience chronic back pain, which is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months.

Back Pain Surgery

This is why many spine experts are now promoting the benefits of the TOPS System. A spinal implant device that retains full motion in the back and ensures the patient can have an active lifestyle. Click here to find out how the TOPS System works

Back surgery is recommended when treatments have failed to improve the condition of a person’s back. Laminectomies, decompression surgery, and spinal fusion are common forms of back surgery. However, spinal fusion can cause a lack of mobility and in the years following the operation, potential damage to other vertebrae.


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