Back pain

Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor or miss work.  It’s also the leading cause of disability worldwide.  Most people will experience back pain at least once in their lives.  Fortunately most back pain is temporary and only lasts a few days to a couple of weeks.  However, when pain lasts longer than a couple of weeks or worsens and is accompanied by symptoms such as shooting or stabbing pain in the back region or down the legs, it’s time to consult an expert spine doctor.


Back pain can come on suddenly for no apparent reason or can be linked to a certain condition.  There are many different causes of back pain most of which aren’t serious and the pain clears on its own over time.  However, if the pain doesn’t clear, it may be due to an underlying condition that needs medical treatment.
Some of the common causes of back pain include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Muscle strain or spasm
  • Arthritis
  • Pinched nerve
  • Injury or trauma
  • Spondylitis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sciatica
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture


Symptoms may vary from person to person as people have different pain thresholds.  However, general symptoms may include:

  • Muscle ache (local or radiating)
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down one or both legs
  • Limited range of motion
  • Limited flexibility
  • Pain that worsens with activity
  • Pain that worsens with prolonged sitting
  • Numbness in one or both legs


Because there are many conditions that may cause back pain, it is important to get diagnosed by a qualified expert in the field.  Your doctor will want to get a complete medical history in order to rule out pre-existing conditions.  A physical examination will be done to determine exact location of pain and whether it radiates or any other attribute that will help determine the cause.  They will also check for nerve damage, test for muscle strength, reflexes and numbness or tingling in areas that may be a factor in determining a diagnosis.   Your doctor may also request various imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, Myelogram or CT scan to assist in proper diagnosis.


The majority of low back pain isn’t serious and can be treated conservatively.  Conservative treatment may include the use of medications to reduce inflammation and over the counter pain relievers. The combined use of hot and cold compresses may help reduce pain and inflammation as well.  Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend modified conservative treatment to include chiropractic adjustments as well as acupuncture to help relieve pain.   It is proven that spinal manipulation can help alleviate back pain by returning the spine to its proper alignment.  Acupuncture has also been proven to help chronic back pain by affecting chemical neurotransmitters in the body.  At SCU we offer a variety of services including chiropractic care and acupuncture.  SCU practitioners take a whole person approach and use the least invasive treatment options available for our patient’s needs.

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