Back pain has many causes, but it can usually be reversed with low impact fitness, core strengthening, posture improvement, gait mechanics and lifestyle changes.

Early intervention and nonsurgical treatments are key — often leading to faster recovery and better outcomes. Experts throughout the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network offer comprehensive care for all levels of back pain.

Common Causes and Conditions of Back Pain

Age, physical fitness level, obesity, recreational activities and stress are all factors that can increase your risk of developing back pain. The most common causes of back pain are age-related spinal conditions.

These include:

  • Spinal stenosis — A narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves and spinal cord
  • Lumbar radiculopathy — A compressed nerve in the lower back
  • Cervical radiculopathy — A compressed nerve in the neck

Back pain can also be caused by spinal deformities, which are conditions that affect the curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis. Additional causes include injuries, such as a fractured vertebrae or a ruptured disk.

When to See a Doctor for Back Pain Symptoms

Back pain can be mild and will often resolve on its own. But in more severe cases, it can be debilitating. The intensity of the pain and how long you have been experiencing it can help determine when to see a doctor.

See a doctor for your back pain if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Back pain accompanied with night sweats, fever or chills, which could be a sign of infection and requires immediate medical attention
  • Unrelenting back pain that is not relieved with anti-inflammatory medications
  • Back pain that radiates through the arms or legs with numbness or tingling
  • Back pain for longer than six weeks

Treatment Options for Back Pain Without Surgery

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to back pain, which is why the Froedtert & MCW health network offers many options for relief. Our comprehensive care includes experts in operative and nonoperative treatments, including pain management, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical therapy, neurosurgery, chiropractic care, orthopaedic surgery and medical-based wellness.

Richard Manos, MD

“Surgery is rarely the first treatment choice,” said Richard Manos, MD, orthopaedic spine surgeon who practices at the Froedtert & MCW Sheboygan Clinic and Holy Family Memorial Harbor Town Campus. “Unless you have a tumor, an infection, a serious spinal cord injury or progressive neurological decline, surgery is usually not necessary. In my two decades of practice as an orthopaedic spine surgeon, I have seen how much impact a sedentary lifestyle and deconditioning has on spine health.”

Froedtert & MCW experts give people the tools they need to reduce pain and improve function. Proper posture, gait mechanics, low impact fitness and spine strengthening exercises combined with pain management techniques help most people find relief.

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