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Back Pain May Have Many Causes

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I've lost about 20 pounds, which was my goal. But, my stomach area is still flabby. I do stomach crunches, so what more can I do?

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I lifted groceries out of my car the other day, and my back has hurt ever since. Do I need to see a doctor, or will this back pain go away? Is there anything I can do to make the pain go away?

In Pain

Dear In Pain,

Back strain (thoracic or lumbo-sacral strain) may be due to a recognizable injury, but may have little or no obvious precipitating factor. Disc injury or rupture may have the same type of back pain, but may also have accompanying nerve compression causing impairment of bowel or bladder function, leg pain (sciatica), or other neurologic symptoms.

Most episodes of back strain can be successfully treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen, Naproxyn), and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol), with ice packs for 24 hours, followed by local warmth, in conjunction with a mobility exercise program. For symptoms that don't respond, a physician may want to order further tests and therapies.

Besides back strain, back pain in the adult can have other serious causes ranging from kidney stones to aneurysm and tumor. Because of the potential problems, anyone with significant new onset of back pain should be seen and examined by a doctor.