How Long Will My Back Pain Last

Back pain can manifest as a dull ache or a shooting, shocking pain, and it can develop gradually or suddenly. Acute back pain resolves on its own, with a bit of care, within a reasonably brief period of time, while chronic back pain lasts a few months or longer. Acute back pain can develop into chronic back pain when it persists or recurs. There may be medical reasons for chronic back pain, and it may recur following successful treatment. Most acute back pain is caused by some mechanical issue, meaning that the interrelated structures of the spine and back have been compromised in some way.

These mechanical problems can arise due to congenital spinal irregularities, injury, degenerative problems, like arthritis, that can develop with age, and problems with the nerves and spinal cord. Mechanical problems can also be caused by medical concerns in other parts of the body, like kidney stones, endometriosis, or even pregnancy, as each of these conditions causes irregular pressure on varying parts of the back and spine. The cause of a person’s back pain is often related to the duration and intensity of that pain. Back pain can also arise as people age and lose flexibility in their spine, or when people over exert themselves while working or exercising, and factors like mental health, weight gain, and tobacco use can also lead to back pain.

Medical professionals use a variety of diagnostic techniques to determine the cause of back pain, including a thorough medical history and physical examination. Doctors may also use neurologic tests and imaging tests to pinpoint or rule out certain possible causes of pain. Depending on the source and cause of back pain, treatment will vary. Acute back pain, which may improve on its own, is usually treated with oral medications like over-the-counter analgesics or anti-inflammatories, prescription muscle relaxants, and topical pain relievers ice packs, heating pads, creams, and patches.

Doctors may also recommend gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to help patients work through acute back pain. Chronic back pain is treated similarly at its onset, with doctors increasing the intensity of treatment as the pain continues or progresses. Medications used to treat chronic back pain may include anticonvulsants, antidepressants, or opioids, and doctors may also recommend acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and massage, spinal injections, or physical therapy. If these therapies are unsuccessful at relieving chronic back pain, doctors may recommend surgical treatment and rehabilitation programs that help people reduce pain levels and live with chronic pain.

The duration of a person’s back pain is often related to the cause, and acute back pain usually subsides within a few days or weeks. While chronic back pain is characterized by pain with a longer duration, medical care can help patients reduce the amount of pain they experience and can help make chronic back pain bearable and stop it from interfering with regular activity.

To best assess how long your back pain will last, visit a medical professional if pain does not subside within a few days. Sometimes, mechanical treatments like massage and chiropractic care can reduce or eliminate pain after just a few treatments, while at other times, more intensive medical care is required. Your doctor can help you understand the source and causes of your back pain and work toward living a pain-free life.

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