July 21, 2017

Back pain: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Neck, Back and Spine | Urgent Care


Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek the care of a physician. There are many causes and symptoms, and most of the time the pain in your back can be treated without surgery.


The spine is made up of 24 bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. These bones connect to protect the spinal cord. The seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of the skull and form the neck comprise the cervical spine.

Your spinal cord and nerves travel through the spinal canal carrying messages between your brain and muscles. The intervertebral discs between your vertebrae are flexible, flat and round discs and are about a half-inch thick. They act as shock absorbers when you walk or run and allow motion between the vertebrae.

What causes back pain?

Anyone can develop back pain, however certain factors can increase your chances.

  • Age
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excess weight
  • Disease
  • Improper lifting
  • Smoking

Pain can come on suddenly and last less than six weeks (acute), which may be caused by a fall, heavy lifting or sudden incorrect movement. Chronic pain is less common and can last more than three months. Conditions commonly linked to pain in the back include:

What are the symptoms of back pain?

  • Muscle achiness in your back
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Limited flexibility or range of motion of the back
  • In extreme cases, bowel or bladder problems

How is back pain diagnosed?

To determine the severity of your back pain your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine if there are other problems.

Make an appointment with an OrthoIndy spine surgeon

Pros and cons of back surgery
How do you get relief from back pain?

In most cases, pain will go away on it’s own with rest. Other nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen
  • Narcotics prescribed by your physician
  • Cortisone injections
  • Physical therapy
  • At home exercise and stretching

If your pain is caused by a chronic condition, surgery may be necessary and depends on your diagnosis.

How do you prevent back pain?

Motion, exercise and stretching is important to strengthen your back and prevent injury. Correct posture when sitting and correct movement when lifting is also important. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight.

Learn more about treatment options for neck and back pain at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief cover

The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief

Find out what's causing your back pain and how you can treat it with OrthoIndy's ultimate guide to healing back pain.

Read the guide

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

By OrthoIndy

Founded over 50 years ago, OrthoIndy is one of the most highly respected orthopedic practices in the Midwest. With over 70 physicians providing care to central Indiana residents from more than 10 convenient locations, OrthoIndy provides leading-edge bone, joint, spine and muscle care.

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