• Tina Walker

So, You're Suffering from Severe Back Pain. . .

Throughout the lifespan of any human being, it is likely that they may fall victim to some form of back pain whether it be mild or severe. With back pain being one of the leading causes for disability, according to the American Association of Neurological surgeons, 75 to 85 percent of Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime, it is encouraged to be informed of various methods in which to find relief in the event of that occurring.


Back pains can range from a dull ache to a stabbing or shooting sensation. The pain may make it hard to move or stand up straight. These pains are categorized as:

  • Acute pain is the pain that comes on suddenly. This pain may be induced by sports or heavy lifting.

  • Chronic pain is the type of back pain that lasts for more than three months.


Back pain ranges from a shooting, burning, or stabbing sensation. Additionally, the pain may radiate down your leg or worsen with bending, twisting, lifting, standing, or walking. Usually, back pain improves gradually with a few weeks of home treatments and self-care.


Back pain usually develops without a cause, but when you visit your doctor, imaging study and other tests can be done to identify the cause of your back pain. Some causes may include:

  • Muscle or ligament strain: This can be caused by repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement.

  • Bulging or ruptured disks: Disks act like cushions between the bones in your spine, the material within the disk can bulge or rupture placing pressure on a nerve that causes back pains.

  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back.

  • Osteoporosis: If your bones become porous and brittle you may develop painful fractures in your vertebrae.

Other causes of back pain may include:

  • Muscle strain

  • Your bag

  • Your workout


Better Sleeping Positions

When suffering from excruciating back pains sleeping can be difficult, and a lack of proper sleep will only add to the pain. A good position to assist with sleep is lying on your side and placing a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position which will, in turn, relieve the strain on your back. If it is easier to sleep on your back, then put a pillow under your knees. If those are not working, then the mattress may be the culprit to your back pains. Consider purchasing a firm mattress.

Good Posture

As a child, many of us have heard slouching is bad, and as always, many of us disregard the warnings. Sitting with poor posture for long periods at a time can make back pain worse. When at work, try not to slump over your keyboard, sit upright with relaxed shoulders, and ensure that you are comfortably seated against the back of your chair. If your chair is uncomfortable, consider using a pillow or rolled towel between your lower back and your seat. Finally, ensure that your feet are flat on the floor.

Over-the-Counter Medication

We’ve all seen those ads on television of the amazing back pain relievers, some of them do help. There are two kinds of over-the-counter pain meds: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. As with many medications, they do come with side effects and if considering those, please ensure that you can take them. A good way to ensure that you can take these over-the-counter medications is by first talking to your doctor since these medications should not be considered a long-term solution. Also, talking to your doctor about your symptoms will allow for proper diagnosis and treatment of your condition especially if it is severe and is a result of an underlying condition.

Prescription Medication

Over-the-counter medication may not be strong enough to help with the pain that you are experiencing and in that case, a prescription medication may be better suited for your pain. The only way to obtain said prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioid medications to help with the pain, is to see your doctor. When being given a prescription for these drugs, please inform your doctor of any other medication or over-the-counter drugs that you are taking at the time. This will avoid overdosing on certain active ingredients.

Physical Therapy

Seeing a physical therapist when experiencing severe back pain can be helpful. You will be taught how to sit, stand, and move in a way that keeps your spine in proper alignment and alleviates strain on your back. They teach proper exercises and stretches that strengthen the core muscles that support your back. It may take some time, but with consistency, it will help.

Ice and Heat

If your back pain is due to inflammation from an injury, regular use of an ice pack to the area will help reduce the pain. Doing this several times a day at 20 minutes each time with a wrapped ice pack to protect the skin will help. After a few days of using this method, switch to applying a heating pad or warm pack to the area. This will help to relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the affected area. A word of caution, to avoid burns and tissue damage, please don’t sleep on a heating pad.

Spinal Injections

Your doctor may recommend a spinal injection to help with your back pain after proper diagnosis. Your doctor will give 1 of these 7 types of injections:

  • Epidural steroid injections

  • Facet joint injections

  • Medial branch injections

  • Radiofrequency ablation

  • Sacroiliac joint injections

  • Sympathetic nerve blocks

  • Regenerative therapy injections

Depending on the type of injection that you receive, your doctor may limit the number of injections you receive per year to help prevent possible side effects.

Back Surgery

To receive a proper diagnosis of what may be a serious condition, you should visit your doctor who may recommend that surgery be done. If there’s a bulging disc that is putting pressure on a nerve, your doctor may recommend that you have a discectomy. This surgery will remove some of the disc material causing your pain. Another surgery that may be recommended is a laminectomy. This particular type of surgery decompresses an area where there is pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. A spinal fusion may also be done to help stabilize your spine. Surgeries are usually the last resort because they carry risks and are not always successful; however, you will be thoroughly informed by your doctor of the risks and benefits of any surgery being considered.


There will be days that you will be tempted to stay home and try home remedies, but if the pain is unbearable it could be as a result of some underlying cause that requires the attention of a medical professional. Visit your doctor if the pain is disabling or your symptoms are as followed:

  • Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ.

  • Radiating pain: It is a pain that shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.

  • Incontinence: Back pain along with the inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection.

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