Back pain, 21st century epidemic
Authors: Dr Saurabh Verma, Dr Hamza Shaikh
Back pain is the most common cause of work related disability. 80% of people experience back pain at some point in their lives. With increasing sedentary lifestyle and ever-expanding aging population, back pain has become the most common reason to visit a primary physician and it does not refer to any specific disease, instead it is a common symptom produced by the variety of underlying processes.
For the purpose of patient education, back pain can be divided into three types: Acute back pain, chronic back pain and back pain with red flag signs. Acute back pain refers to sprains or strains of back muscles due to sudden movements or poor body mechanics while lifting heavy objects.
Acute back pain usually settles down within a few days to a week and may require a short course of rest, analgesic/pain medications and physiotherapy. Another category is chronic back pain, which refers to pain which lasts more than 3 months.This group of patients require an evaluation by the doctor, who may ask for some basic tests such as X Ray or an MRI to identify the cause of back pain.