Diagnosing and Treating Back Pain Online
The two most common forms of back pain are lower back pain and upper back pain.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common forms of pain. A majority of adults report experiencing back pain at some point in their lives. The lower back is defined as the area below the ribcage, which is also called the lumbar region. This part of the back is responsible for supporting a significant amount of upper body weight. Types of lower back pain can range from shooting pain to a dull constant ache.
There are a number of causes of lower back pain. Muscle sprains and ligament strains are the most common cause of lower back pain. Other causes include:
- Intervertebral disc generation
- Herniated or ruptured discs
- Traumatic injury
- Spinal Stenosis
Some factors that may contribute to lower back pain include age, fitness level, pregnancy, weight gain, genetics, mental health factors or heavy backpacks.
Upper Back Pain
The upper back is defined as the twelve vertebrae, also called the thoracic spine. People typically experience back pain between the neck and the lower ribcage. Oftentimes upper back pain occurs in conjunction with neck and shoulder pain. Causes of upper back pain can include overuse, injury, poor posture, pressure on the spinal nerves, osteoarthritis, or a fracture.
In recent years, upper back pain has become a common complaint among people who work at computers for an extended period of time. Other common reasons for upper back pain include lack of strength, also known as deconditioning, and overuse injuries.
Both types of back pain are treated similarly in that painkillers and physical rehabilitation are the main treatments recommended.
During a video consult on Amwell your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to back pain. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Treatment for back pain is different depending on the severity.
Options for treatment of back pain differ by cause, but may include:
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- Heat and ice
- Physical therapy