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Treatment of acute low back pain

Authors
Christopher L Knight, MD
Richard A Deyo, MD, MPH
Thomas O Staiger, MD
Joyce E Wipf, MD
Section Editor
Steven J Atlas, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
H Nancy Sokol, MD

INTRODUCTION

It is estimated that up to 84 percent of adults have low back pain at some time in their lives [1,2]. The vast majority of patients seen in primary care (>85 percent) will have nonspecific low back pain, meaning that the patient has back pain in the absence of a specific underlying condition that can be reliably identified [3-5]. For most of these individuals, episodes of back pain are self-limited. Patients who continue to have back pain beyond the acute period (four weeks) have subacute back pain (lasting between 4 and 12 weeks) and may go on to develop chronic back pain (persists for ≥12 weeks) [6].

This discussion focuses on the initial treatment of nonspecific acute back pain. The treatment of acute low back pain from specific conditions is discussed in the appropriate topics. As examples:

Treatment for vertebral compression fracture (see "Osteoporotic thoracolumbar vertebral compression fractures: Clinical manifestations and treatment")

Treatment for lumbosacral radiculopathy (see "Acute lumbosacral radiculopathy: Treatment and prognosis")

Treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis (see "Lumbar spinal stenosis: Treatment and prognosis")

                      

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Wed Jun 29 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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