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Back Pain: Common Causes and Risk Factors

back-painNearly 80% of Americans complain to their doctor’s of acute (temporary) or chronic back pain. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work or go to the doctor. However, almost all acute back pain can be prevented. Yet when prevention fails, Dr. Charkawi will discuss treatment options.

Back pain can be caused by any one of the following:

  • Muscle or Ligament Strain – this can be caused by poor posture (seated or standing), repeated heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, or sudden awkward movements.
  • Herniated (ruptured) Discs – this occurs when the discs between each vertebrae ruptures and impends on a nearby nerve in the spinal column. This can be caused by disease or trauma.
  • Arthritis – This most commonly affects the lower back, but can cause pain along any part of the spine.
  • Skeletal Irregularities – These problems include scoliosis (curvature of the spine); lordosis (over inward curvature of the neck or lower back); or kyphosis (over outward curvature of the middle back)
  • Osteoporosis – This can lead to compression fractures of your vertebrae

To read more about the risk factors for back pain and how Dr. Charkawi diagnoses back issue, visit the Johns Creek Family Medicine Blog.

There are numerous risk factors that can make you more likely to have back pain. Fortunately, many of these are controllable.

Risk factors you CAN’T change:

  • Family history
  • Age 45 years or older
  • Previous back injury or surgery
  • Skeletal irregularity at birth

Risk factors you CAN change:

  • Not enough regular exercise
  • Smoking
  • Poor posture
  • Overweight
  • Stress
  • Job that requires prolonged sitting or heavy lifting

There are many diagnostic tools that Dr. Charkawi may use to determine the cause of back pain. Many times however a basic assessment is all that is required. His assessment can determine where the pain is coming from and rule out more serious problems. If Dr. Charkawi suspects a specific condition they may order an X-Ray, MRI, CT or bone scan to confirm diagnosis.

Acute back pain is typically resolved within 1-2 weeks depending on the cause. Dr. Charkawi may order simple over the counter pain medicines (such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve) along with light activity. It is important to continue some activity because too much bed rest will be more harmful than therapeutic.

In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxer or anti-depressant. Narcotic pain medication may be prescribed for a short period of time.

If you suffer from periodic back pain, then call Johns Creek Family Medicine to discuss prevention and treatment.

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