Acute back pain

Acute back pain refers to short-term pain felt in the upper, lower or middle back that usually has a sudden onset. The duration of pain can range from a few days to weeks in length. Acute back pain is usually contrasted with chronic back pain, which is generally defined as pain that lasts more than three months. Depending on the underlying cause and the severity of pain, acute back pain can turn chronic or it can go away on its own with minimal treatment.

If you experience acute back pain that lasts more than a few days, it is important to consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. This can offer you the best chance of your back issue not developing into a more serious, chronic condition. It is also beneficial to educate yourself about the causes of and full range of treatment options available for back pain.

Causes of acute back pain

Acute back pain often results from strained muscles or sprained ligaments along the spinal column. Muscle strains can be triggered from:

  • Improper or heavy lifting
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Sports-related injury
  • Falls
  • Muscle tension

Carrying extra body mass, pregnancy, poor posture and lack of strong muscle tone can contribute to acute back pain as well. Also, trauma can cause back pain. Pain may be severe immediately following a strain or injury, or it may worsen over a period of time. If it lasts for months, your back pain may more likely be the result of a condition affecting the spinal column such as a herniated disc, arthritis, bone spurs or spinal stenosis.

Treating acute back pain

When you do see your doctor, he or she can diagnose the cause of your pain and prescribe a treatment plan. Options for back pain treatment can include:

  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Back bracing
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Low-impact aerobics

If back pain does become chronic, most doctors and spine specialists may attempt more involved conservative treatment like physical therapy or epidural steroid injections. Surgery is usually seen as a last-resort treatment option for doctors and patients alike due to the highly invasive nature of traditional open spine procedures. For patients who are exploring surgery there is another option — minimally invasive spine surgery performed on an outpatient basis at Laser Spine Institute. By using a muscle-sparing less than 1-inch incision we offer patients a faster recuperation period^ and less risk of complication than traditional surgery.

Contact us today for your no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.