Each year, Americans spend an average of $50 billion on treatment or research for prevention of lower back pain. The condition has been cited as one of the most common causes of job-related disability, leading the person to miss work. Back pain is, in fact, the second most common neurological ailment in the United States, second only to headache.
The good news is that most lower back pain lasts only for a few days. However, there are instances where the condition could last longer.
Acute Lower Back Pain
Sometimes referred to as short-term lower back pain, acute lower back pain extends any time from a few days to a few weeks. The condition is considered as mechanical in nature as it is often the result of trauma to the lower back.
Short-term back pain may also be caused by disorders that affect the spine, such as arthritis, sports injury, working around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt that adds stress to the spinal bones and tissues. One example of the latter is when you receive trauma to your lower back due to a car accident.
The condition has symptoms that range from muscle aches to shooting or stabbing pain. Short-term lower back pain may also limit your flexibility and/or range of motion. Sometimes, it may even lead to inability to stand straight.
If left untreated, some acute lower back pain may lead to more serious conditions.
Chronic Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is classified by duration. Therefore, if the pain lasts only for a few days to a few weeks, it is short-term or acute lower back pain. However, if the pain persists for more than three months, then the condition is already chronic.
Chronic lower back pain is progressive. This means that the symptoms can only get worse over time. There are a number of possible causes but they are difficult to determine with each case. That is why people who suffer back pain that lasts for far longer than what is considered “normal” are advised to consult the doctor as soon as possible.
Since pain to the lower back is fairly common, there are quite a few home remedies used to treat it. Most of the time the treatment involves using analgesics or taking drugs that reduce inflammation, restore proper function and strength, and prevent recurrence of the injury.
Cold and hot compresses are also frequently used to treat lower back pain although the same has not been scientifically proven to treat back pain. After 72 hours of self-care and there is still no improvement, patients are advised to consult the doctor.