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Study: Short-Term Back Pain Could Signal Problems Down The Road

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Just about everyone has back pain now and then. But, what does that indicate about how your back will feel years from now?

A study in the Journal of Pain says severe, short-term back pain could be a forerunner to long-term pain and disability.

The study followed nearly 500 people who were treated for low back pain. They answered questionnaires every six months for five years.

People with high pain levels at the start had a 12 percent higher risk of back pain at six months, nine percent higher risk at five years.

Short-term low back pain isn't necessarily due to a disc being out of place, but rather, inflammation in the joints, from stress and strain. The customary approach is short-term treatment of the inflammation, but the study suggests long-term monitoring may be helpful.

Short-term treatment includes rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Long-term, weight loss, exercise to maintain good muscle tone along the spine, not smoking, and good lifting technique with your legs muscles and not your back muscles can be ways to keep pain away.

Keeping a bright outlook may help, too. In the study, those who believed they would have persistent pain had a four percent higher risk at six months, and a six percent higher risk at five years.

"There may be a secondary reason that they need to have low back pain, so to speak. Because it impacts a number of different areas of life. Especially work," Dr. Jack Wilberger said.


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