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Lower back pain

Diagnosis of lower back pain

Your options for the treatment and prevention of low back pain will depend on the cause and your risk factors. At Dignity Health, our goal is to relieve your pain and prevent future problems.

Most cases of lower back pain go away on their own within a few weeks. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines, stretching, hot and cold therapy, and massage can ease your recovery. For severe or persistent low back pain, your doctor may prescribe more potent pain relievers, physical therapy, or a back brace. Generally, back surgery is the last option after trying nonsurgical treatment for six to 12 months.

Let our orthopedics team at Dignity Health address your needs and help you find back pain relief.

When to see a doctor for back pain

Back pain most often resolves on its own with rest and at-home care.

If your back pain recurs frequently and interferes with your activity, talk about treatment options with your doctor. You should also seek medical advice if your pain is severe or lasts more than two weeks.

Though more severe conditions causing lower back pain are rare, there are a few symptoms to look out for. If you notice any of the following symptoms with your back pain, seek urgent medical attention:

  • Shooting pain radiating down your limbs
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Incontinence (trouble controlling your bowels or bladder)
  • Fever or other signs of infection
  • Pain on urination
  • Any sign of deformity in the back
  • Weight loss you can’t explain
  • A history of cancer or previous back injury

If you have any of the following symptoms along with lower back pain, you should call 911, since they could indicate a heart attack or more serious condition:

  • Hearing a crack or other sound at the time of injury
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • You can’t move your arm or leg
  • Any symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure, sweating, dizziness, a racing heartbeat, lightheadedness, or sudden weakness

Dignity Health offers a wide variety of orthopedic services, including care and treatment for lower back pain. Find a Doctor near you.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.