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FAQ’s and Other Interesting Things to Expect About Your Acute Low Back Pain

How common is low back pain? Will it come back again?

Lower back pain will affect up to 80% of people in the U.S. at some point in their lives. Over half of this population will experience recurrent pain within a year. When this happens again, the intensity of pain can vary from moderate to severe.

How long will the pain last?

Most people experience pain relief within 4-8 weeks. However, low back pain may last as long as 12 weeks and sometimes even longer.

Are X-Rays or an MRI helpful?

Most back pain is caused by soft tissues. Regular X-Rays of the spine provide us information about the bones in your back. They are used when there is concern for a break in the bones from trauma or, in rare cases, from cancer in bones. X-Rays do not provide information about the nerves, muscles, or ligaments.

In the right situation, an MRI can be helpful. For example, an MRI may be used if we are considering surgery for a pinched nerve. For most patients with back pain however, an MRI can be misleading. MRIs can show areas that may not look normal, but are just a part of aging. Most often, these areas do not have anything to do with causing your pain. CareMount Medical has a whole radiology department dedicated to this kind of imaging with various radiology locations.

What about seeing a spine specialist?

Primary care providers can treat most back pain but may consult our spine specialists (Orthopedists, Neurosurgery or Physiatrist) for questions about care. A referral to a Neurosurgeon or an Orthopedist usually means both the doctor and patient are considering surgery as a possible treatment option.

How has the problem or condition affected your function over the past week?