Low Back Pain (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Low back pain facts
- What is the anatomy of the low back?
- What is the function of the low back?
- What are common causes of lower back pain?
- What are other causes of lower back pain?
- What are uncommon causes of low back pain?
- What are other symptoms and signs sometimes associated with low back pain?
- How is low back pain diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for low back pain?
- What is the outlook (prognosis) for low back pain?
- Can low back pain be prevented?
- Back Pain - Slideshow
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- Take the Back Pain Quiz!
- Back Pain FAQs
- Find a local Orthopedic Surgeon in your town
What is the treatment for low back pain?
So, how is low back pain treated? As described above, the treatment very much depends on the precise cause of the low back pain. Moreover, each patient must be individually evaluated and managed in the context of the underlying background health status and activity level.
As has been highlighted by research presented at the national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, a very important aspect of the individual evaluation is the patient's own understanding and perception of their particular situation. British researchers found that those who believed that their symptoms had serious consequences on their lives and that they had, or treatments had, little control over their symptoms were more likely to have a poor outcome. This research points out to physicians the importance of addressing the concerns and perceptions that patients have about their condition during the initial evaluations.
Finally, it should be noted that the conditions listed above are intended for general review. There are many other causes of back pain, including upper back pain, that have not been discussed.
What is the outlook (prognosis) for low back pain?
The outlook for low back pain absolutely depends on its precise cause. For example, acute strain injuries generally heal entirely with minimal treatment. On the other hand, bony abnormalities that are irritating the spinal cord can require significant surgical repair and the outlook depends on the surgical result. Long-term optimal results often involve exercise rehabilitation programs that can involve physical therapists.
Can low back pain be prevented?
Avoiding injury to the low back is a method of preventing low back pain. Additionally, conditioning exercise programs designed to strengthen the lumbar area and adjacent tissues can help to minimize risk of injury to the low back. Specific programs to relieve and prevent back pain can be designed with the help of physical therapists and other treating health-care professionals.
Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.
Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, W B Saunders Co, edited by Shaun Ruddy, et al., 2000.
American College of Rheumatology, Annual Scientific Meeting, 2007.
Additional resources from WebMD Boots UK on Lower Back Pain
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