About 65 million Americans have experienced back pain in the past year. It leads to 83 million days of time off from work each year. Chronic back pain affects about 16 million adults. It’s the sixth most expensive condition to treat.

Back pain is one of the hardest health issues to face as it can be so limiting. It impacts your ability to sleep as it’s hard to get comfortable. It makes it hard to keep up with household chores. It impacts your ability to do your job. If you have kids, try lifting a baby or toddler when your back hurts. 

While back pain is so debilitating, it’s also common. Doctors see patients all the time, so don’t be afraid to go to a doctor and ask for help.

What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain can be linked to injuries or medical conditions. Some are common while others are rare. Explore them below.

The most common causes of back pain are:

  • Arthritis – Wear and tear of the joints of the spine due to movements through your life. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes information in the back, hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Disc Problems – Degenerative or herniated disc problems that put pressure on nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, and triggers lower back pain that may even shoot down the legs.
  • Fractures – There is a chance of fracturing one of the 33 bones that form the spine. Those fractures can be an axial burst fracture (occurs with a fall or vertical impact), a chance fracture (vertebrae pulled apart, which is most common in a car accident), or a compression fracture (the front portion of a vertebrae fractures, but the rest is okay).
  • Poor Posture – Sitting or standing in a slumped position can put pressure on the spine and back muscles and cause pain.
  • Muscle Strain or Sprains – The muscles in the back may become strained due to overuse or lifting items improperly.


In addition to those, there are types of back pain that are less common. They include:

  • Bone and Disc Infections – Infections can get into the bone. Osteomyelitis is an infection of the back bone. Septic discitis is an infection of the discs.
  • Breast and Lung Cancer – Tumors in the breast and lung can grow in an area that presses against the nerves of the spine.
  • Meningitis – Often a fever also appears and the pain is worse when you curl into a fetal position.
  • Multiple Sclerosis – MS can trigger a burning, radiating pain in the neck and back.
  • Spinal Tumors – While it’s not common, there are rare tumors that grow in the spinal cord and surrounding tissue that put pressure on the nerves and can compress the discs in the spine.

With any of these, the pain can be chronic or acute. Chronic pain doesn’t go away and lasts for months and can be harder to diagnose. Acute pain occurs suddenly, but it’s easier to find the cause.

Self-Care Options for Relief

When your back hurts, there are four things you can do to get relief.

  • Apply ice or heat.
  • Take an over-the-counter NSAID, such as Advil or Tylenol
  • Rest
  • Better support your back while sitting by using a lumbar pillow

If you can, take warm baths to help relax the muscles and ease tension. After you’re done, sit down with a supportive pillow for your back and take it as easy as you can. You may still need to do things like cook meals and do the laundry, but avoid heavy lifting and get others  to help out as much as they can.

Prevent Pain From Returning

Once the pain subsides, keep it from returning. If you know what caused the pain, take steps to avoid reinjury. If you were doing something strenuous, such as carrying bags of sand, use a hand cart or wheelbarrow to avoid straining your back.

If you haven’t replaced your mattress in years, it’s time for a new, supportive mattress. They’re cheaper than they used to be, and you can get good quality mattresses that are delivered to your home that you open and allow to expand for a day.

For people with office jobs that require a lot of sitting around, use the lumbar support option on your office chair. If you don’t have an office chair with lumbar support, purchase a supportive pillow you can strap to the back of your chair.

Before you exercise or play sports, make sure you stretch and warm up. If you have to lift, lift with your legs from a squat and not with your back muscles while leaning over. 

Finally, lose weight if you are overweight. A healthy weight eases strain on the body that can impact the back and spine. Working with a doctor that specializes in weight loss and can refer you to a physical therapist to start building body strength and stamina will lead to great improvements. You’ll be feeling stronger and experience less pain over time.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Most back pain will subside if you take steps like rest, heat, ice, and over-the-counter medications to ease the pain and inflammation. When is it important to see a doctor? 

If the pain is severe, don’t risk it. Go to a doctor and make sure that you didn’t fracture anything or have one of the rare conditions that need medical care. The sooner you start treatments, the better it is. It’s also better to learn it’s simply muscle strain than to stay home and hope it gets better and learn it was serious.

Should the pain coincide with a fever, numbness, tingling, or weakness, it can be a sign of something more severe, such as meningitis. Seek immediate medical attention.

When the back pain is triggering bowel or bladder incontinence, make an appointment with a doctor. You want to rule out other health issues. 

It’s also important to consider the benefit of seeking medical care if the back pain is making it hard to work. Short-term disability insurance is going to require a doctor’s diagnosis if you need disability pay while you’re out of work. Have a doctor determine what’s causing the pain so that you can take time off and heal or complete treatments and not worry about lost income.

Premium Urgent Care is here to help you with back pain treatment. Whether you have a herniated disc, an injury, or your pain is caused by arthritis, our back pain specialists offer effective treatment plans. Schedule a consultation online and start feeling better than you have in a long time.