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Back Pain, Ambulatory Care

Back pain

is common. You may feel sore or stiff on one or both sides of your back. The pain may spread to your buttocks or thighs. Back pain may be caused by an injury, lack of exercise, or obesity. Repeated bending, lifting, twisting, or lifting heavy items can also cause back pain.

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs
  • Pain that is so severe, you cannot walk
  • Unable to control your urine or bowel movements
  • Severe back pain with chest pain
  • Severe back pain, nausea, and vomiting
  • Severe back pain that spreads to your side or genital area

Treatment for back pain

may include any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.

Manage your back pain:

  • Apply ice on your back for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain.
  • Apply heat on your back for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. You can alternate ice and heat.
  • Stay active as much as you can without causing more pain. Bed rest could make your back pain worse. Avoid heavy lifting until your pain is gone.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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