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Chronic Back Pain
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Chronic back pain is back pain that lasts 3 months or longer. This may include pain that has not been controlled or does not improve with treatment. Your back pain may cause weakness or pain that spreads to your arms or legs.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have severe pain.
- You have new signs of numbness or weakness, especially in your lower back, legs, arms, or genital area.
- You lose control of your bladder or bowel movements.
- You have a fever or sudden weight loss.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have new or worsened pain.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine 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 the directions on it before using this medicine.
- 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 also be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Muscle relaxers help decrease muscle spasms and back pain.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may be referred to a sports medicine or spine specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Manage your chronic back pain:
- Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on your back for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 hours or as often as directed.
- Stay active as much as you can without causing more pain. Ask your healthcare provider what exercises are right for you. Do not sit or lie down for long periods. This could make your back pain worse. Avoid heavy lifting until your pain is gone.
- A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
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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.