Most adults will have an episode or multiple episodes of low back pain during their lives. Most of these episodes do not require a visit to the doctor. The majority of low back pain resolves without any treatment or with over-the-counter medications and a short period of rest.
However, any person with the "red flag symptoms" (the warning signs listed above) should be evaluated by a doctor.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
- Are there any physical therapy programs or exercises that might help my symptoms?
- Would I benefit from surgery? This should only be a concern if pain has not improved with conservative treatment. Surgical options to discuss with the doctor include lumbar decompression, lumbar fusion, and lumbar disc replacement. If considering surgery, discuss the risks and benefits of each of these surgical interventions with the surgeon.
Most cases of low back pain resolve spontaneously over several weeks. People who do not improve should continue to follow-up with the doctor to see if further imaging or laboratory studies are necessary.
The best method to prevent lumbar disc disease is to maintain adequate conditioning and muscle strength. Use proper lifting mechanics and do not lift heavy objects using the lower back muscles as this places unnecessary stress on the back.
Many cases of lumbar disc disease cannot be prevented because it results from a combination of normal degenerative changes that occur with aging and a genetic predisposition