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Many Americans Suffer From Lower Back Pain

Most people will experience low back pain at some point in their life, but some people suffer from chronic pain every day. To recognize National Pain Awareness Month, Scott Butler, physician assistant from Mount Nittany Physician Group’s Pain Management Center, is here to talk all about low back pain.
Most people will experience low back pain at some point in their life, but some people suffer from chronic pain every day. To recognize National Pain Awareness Month, Scott Butler, physician assistant from Mount Nittany Physician Group’s Pain Management Center, is here to talk all about low back pain.

•How prevalent is low back pain?

Low back pain is such a common complaint that experts say about 80 percent of Americans will experience it at some point in their lives.

General back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work, and it’s estimated that it costs more than $90 billion a year in lost productivity and work days. So it’s important for community members to understand the symptoms and know when to seek expert care.

• What are some of the reasons why a person may experience low back pain?

The most common reason for chronic low back pain is a herniated disk or lumbar spinal stenosis. Obesity can also cause low back pain by causing disc degeneration. Additionally, arthritis and inflammation to the sacroiliac joints – where your lower spine and pelvis connect – can cause low back pain.

Other causes can range from muscle strains to ordinary daily activities such as poor posture while sitting.

• What are the symptoms of low back pain?

Symptoms typically associated with low back pain include muscle ache, shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility or range of motion of the back and inability to stand up straight. A common complaint of low back pain is sciatica, which is pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg that is caused by pressure to the sciatic nerve.

• When should you seek help from a physician?

If you start to experience low back pain, try to relieve the pain through home treatment and self-care practices like taking pain relievers and resting your back. The pain may take several weeks to disappear entirely; however, you should notice improvement within the first 72 hours of self-care. If you don’t see an improvement within this time, you should call your doctor.

Some people have low back pain for weeks. If you experience pain for six – eight weeks after following typical self-care practices, you need to see your primary care physician. Your physician can refer you to a pain management specialist to help improve your pain.

• How is chronic low back pain typically treated by a pain management specialist?

We treat each patient differently depending on many factors like their symptoms and how long they’ve been experiencing the symptoms. Back pain can be debilitating, but in most cases it can be treated non-surgically. We may recommend a combination of medication, injections, physical therapy and rest. Sometimes, we may recommend surgery, depending on the patient’s condition.

Our goal is to make each patient as functional as possible.

Mount Nittany Physician Group’s Pain Management Center can treat community members with chronic low back pain. For more information on low back pain and Mount Nittany Physician Group’s Pain Management Center, located in the new Mount Nittany Health Blue Course Drive facility, please visit mountnittany.org or call 814.237.3360.

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