Pain in the lower back or low back pain is a common concern. Up to 50% of individuals who have experienced low back pain will have more than one episode.
Low back pain is not a specific disease, but rather, it is a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. In many people with low back pain, despite a thorough medical examination, no specific cause of the pain can be identified.
More than 4% of all consultations with a general practitioner in one study involved neck pain. Historically, 90% of people with back pain – and even those with nerve root irritation – were generally thought to improve within two months, no matter what treatment is used — even if no treatment was given.
However, Croft et al noted that in the general back pain group, most patients stopped treatment due to dissatisfaction with the treatment and the caregiver and not because their symptoms had improved significantly. In fact, a similar study found that a significant number of those surveyed who did not return for caregiver follow-up were actually the same or worse.
If you are have a patient with an ache or a pain, an x-ray or special test generally can be ordered to help determine the cause of the problem. A clinician may recommend some non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Patients with long-standing problems also may want to consult with specialists in physical medicine, rehabilitation and even psychiatry.
Another source of expertise is an orthopedic physician. Orthopedists are also trained to treat the musculoskeletal system and may specialize in a particular anatomical area such as the neck or back, wrist and hand.