Back pain is no respecter of persons. It could come out of nowhere—like when you bend over to pick up a paper in a business meeting—or it could be the result of a fall. But when your back is hurting, it’s hard to think of anything else or to keep up with life’s demands.
Back pain is commonly caused by pulled muscles, poor posture, muscle injury or other common strains. Structural problems, such as displaced discs, scoliosis or narrowing of the spinal canal, can also cause back pain. Accidents or trauma is yet another cause of back pain.
Depending on the cause, back pain can be sharp and stabbing, shooting down the legs, throbbing, or dull aching. It can hinder your movements and restrict your flexibility. Sometimes standing is painful, sometimes sitting or laying is painful.
My back is killing me, what should I do?
If you’re experiencing back pain and it is preventing you from an active life, you should come to Advance ER for diagnosis. “If it’s unusual for you to have back pain—if it seemed to come out of the blue—then you should definitely come to Advance ER,” said Advance ER physician Dr. Michael Chiang. “We will try to determine the cause and then come up with a good treatment plan for you.”
Here are 3 things you need to know about back pain:
- It might not be your back that’s hurting you
There are several medical conditions that could be causing your back pain, other than a strained back. You could be experiencing kidney problems, heart problems, an infection, tuberculosis, arthritis or pressure caused by a tumor.
“We won’t know the cause of your back pain until we examine you and run some tests,” said Dr. Chiang. “Our doctors are all board-certified and very experienced with back problems, so we will get busy trying to help you through the pain.”
- It could be either very serious, or a temporary setback
Depending on the cause of your back pain, you may need to see a physician right away. If you suspect you may be suffering from an infection or heart condition, come to Advance ER right away. If you’ve had an accident or high impact from sports that has caused back pain, come to Advance ER right away.
Here are some warning signs that, coupled with back pain, you need to watch for:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty moving bowels
- Swelling or redness on back
- Difficulty controlling bladder
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Dizziness or confusion
- Chest discomfort
- Treatment can vary
Once your diagnosis is completed, your Advance ER physician will come up with a treatment that’s right for you. Pain relievers are recommended for many patients with back pain. Depending on the severity, you may be given an injection.
Strengthening exercises may be prescribed. If another medical condition is suspected, your physician may run additional tests to determine the treatment plan for that condition. Many back problems are alleviated with 1-2 days of bedrest. Very few conditions require surgery.
“We’ll come up with a treatment plan that’s customized for you,” said Dr. Chiang. “If you’re in pain and can’t function, come on in—day or night—and we’ll take a look at you.”
Advance ER is open 24/7
Since back pain doesn’t take a break, neither do we. Our two convenient locations are open all day, every day of the year.
Meet Dr. Chiang:
Michael Chiang, M.D., is the Managing Partner and Director of SPECIALIST NOWSM at Advance ER.
Dr. Chiang graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine, and completed his residency from UCLA. He is board-certified and a member of the American College of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Chiang has been practicing emergency medicine for two decades and sees patients of all ages for emergency health care.
He previously served as the Chief of Emergency Medicine at the nationally renowned The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano.