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Acute Back Pain vs Chronic Back Pain: Know When to Call A Doctor

Acute Back Pain vs Chronic Back Pain: Know When to Call A Doctor

Back pain is a common ailment that plagues many people just like yourself. Whether it’s new pain, or pain you’ve dealt with for some time, it can be frustrating to say the least. But how do you know when it’s just a nuisance, or when the pain is something to be worried about?

That’s where our trained staff comes in. At Nebben Physical Medicine, our goal is to get you back to your busy life with our many treatment options. Our team of pain management specialists can help you figure out what’s causing your pain so you can get the help and treatment that you desperately need.

What causes back pain?

As you know, back pain causes much more than just pain and discomfort. It can make you lose time from work and from your family. But what’s the reason for this? Why does back pain rule your life so much? The answer isn’t as simple as you think.

To understand how this happens, you’ve got to know the anatomy of your back. Your spine consists of 34 bones that help protect your spinal cord and keep you standing upright. It also lets your body bend and move fluidly. Many of the nerves that lead to other parts of your body run right through your spinal canal.

Your spine is separated into a few separate parts. At the top is your cervical spine; this is the part of your spine closest to your head. The next segment is your thoracic spine, followed by your lumbar spine. At the tail end is your sacrum and coccyx, which end around your buttocks.

Each part of your spine is made up of vertebrae, which is the bony component that surrounds your spinal cord. In between each of these are spongy discs that help cushion your spine. There are also other structures, such as ligaments and muscles, that help to hold your spinal column in place.

So now that you know a little bit about the anatomy of the spine, you’ll better understand why the different causes, both chronic and acute, can make such an impact on your life and your mobility.

Acute vs chronic: what’s the difference?

Back pain is either acute or chronic in nature. This simply means that your pain either came upon suddenly or has been building for some time and goes through periods of remission, but comes back.

Acute back pain is something that usually occurs due to an injury, but may also have other underlying causes not related to your spine. Injuries that you may sustain, causing sudden back pain include:

What makes these injuries acute and not chronic is the length of time that you’ve had to deal with it. There’s no magic number, but usually if you have back pain for less than three months, it’s considered acute. The above injuries can turn into chronic pain if not treated promptly, or even with treatment, pain may continue.

Chronic back pain, on the other hand, is pain that lasts for more than three months and persists through conservative treatments. This kind of pain may come on later in life due to degenerative changes from wear and tear or could be the result of an untreated injury. Chronic pain may be due to:

Chronic pain is sometimes hard to treat because there isn't always a clear cut cause. Even when there is a definitive problem, chronic pain can be elusive to conservative treatments. 

When to seek help

Many times, your back pain will resolve on its own with rest and care at home. However, if it doesn’t, and your daily activities are being affected by the amount of discomfort you’re in, you may want to consider a professional consultation with Dr. Colle. Some of the other reasons you should see Dr. Colle immediately include:

Other very important signs that you need to get help as soon as possible include unexplained weight loss and new problems with your bowel or bladder. This could indicate a very serious problem. You should also go to Dr. Colle if your back pain is a direct result of a fall or a blow to the back.

If you’re tired of dealing with back pain, no matter what the cause, call our office at 931-313-3843 or book an appointment online today.

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