What can the providers and staff do?
Your doctor may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your pain. However, here's what your doctor can do:
- Rule out any serious underlying condition and reassure you
- Recommend various treatment to help control your pain and prevent disability
Based on the information gathered in your medical history and physical exam, your doctor may provide the following:
- Education and activity recommendations. Your doctor will talk with you about many of the same things presented in this handout, including: avoiding bed rest; staying active; and practicing good body mechanics.
- Medications for pain relief. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription-strength anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) or acetaminophen. For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend a short course of muscle relaxers to help reduce muscle tension and increase ability to move. Back pain rarely requires treatment with steroids or narcotics.
- Referral to a physical therapist. A physical therapist can create and supervise an individual program designed just for you. So if your doctor refers you to physical therapy, don't delay your visit. Early treatment tends to produce better results than later treatment.
- Other. For most episodes of low back pain, the treatments above should help control your pain and allow you to return to your usual activities. In specific circumstances, your doctor may recommend other treatment options.
Remember, back pain is rarely due to any serious problem. Be positive and stay active!