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Back Pain

"Oh, my aching back!"  This common complaint can signal many different medical problems, both physical and psychological.  If your back hurts, don't just complain, talk to your doctor.  While most back pain is treatable with rest or over-the-counter medications, other forms require x-rays, prescription medicines, and physical therapy.  Some causes of back pain are more serious and are best identified sooner rather than later.

Back pain is very common, affecting one in 20 working Americans.  The cost of treating back pain and related disability is now $150 million per year. New therapies are frequently introduced to treat back pain; many, however, are unproven. Back pain sufferers are often willing to try anything to relieve their pain, but it is very important to get a proper diagnosis first.  Certain treatments take on fad or miracle status, but they fail to prove effective when subjected to clinical research. Among these treatments are Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, lumbar corsets, back belts, biofeedback and traction.  Treatments such as chiropractic, magnet therapy, acupuncture, exercise and massage, however, have been shown to be effective in neuromuscular back pain management. 

Interestingly, one study in the medical journal Spine found that treating the psychological stressors of people with back pain was another effective way to reduce their back pain.  And, while most overweight patients with back pain don't want to hear it, weight loss can be helpful in reducing back pain as well.

Created: 5/30/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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