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"Throwing" Your Back Out

Q: Every so often, sometimes for no reason at all, I throw my back out and can't even walk for a few days. My doctor tells me to rest and take ibuprofen. Is that my only option?

Dr. Donnica:
Studies have shown that, as painful as it sounds, the best treatment for neuromuscular back pain is physical therapy in conjunction with rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen or several other OTC or prescription choices).

It seems counter-intuitive. The last thing you want to do when you're in pain is to exercise! But strengthening your back and abdominal muscles will go a long way toward reducing your short-term pain as well as preventing recurrences.

You still need to ask your doctor to make a specific diagnosis, which will require x-rays to begin with. Usually, the expression "I threw my back out," suggests a vertebral disc problem or a spondylolisthesis (a vertebral stress fracture).

Created: 1/10/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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