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Lower Back Pain

Part 1: An Overview

Pain in the lower back or low back pain is a common concern, affecting up to 90% of Americans at some point in their lifetime. Up to 50% will have more than one episode. Low back pain is not a specific disease; rather it is a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. In up to 85% of people with low back pain, despite a thorough medical examination, no specific cause of the pain can be identified. America spends approximately $50 billion a year on low back pain.

Back pain can have many underlying reasons, but often no specific cause will be found and the pain will stop. Please be sure to discuss your individual symptoms as well as the suggested treatments with your health-care professional to determine the appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan for your circumstances.

Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost days at work. It is also one of the most common reasons to visit a doctor's office or a hospital's emergency department. It is the second most common neurologic complaint in the United States, second only to headache.

For 90% of people, even those with nerve root irritation, their symptoms will improve within two months no matter what treatment is used, even if no treatment is given.

Doctors usually refer to back pain as acute if it has been present for less than a month and chronic if it lasts for a longer period of time.

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