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Back pain that doesn’t go away: 5 causes, what to do and when it’s serious

Back Pain

Back pain that does not normally go away is caused by poor posture or frequent overload of the spine due to excessive physical activity, but it can also indicate a herniated disc, fractured vertebrae and bone cancer.

Depending on the cause of back pain, other symptoms may appear such as tingling, pain or weakness in other parts of the body and, sometimes, the pain may worsen over time and not improve with rest.

In case of back pain that does not go away, it is important to consult an orthopedist to confirm the diagnosis and begin the most appropriate treatment, with the doctor being able to advise you on correcting your posture, using pain medication, physiotherapy and, in some cases, , surgery.

Main causes

The main causes of back pain that doesn’t go away are:

1. Excessive effort

Excessive strain on the spine when lifting weights or exercising, for example, can injure muscles and tendons, causing back pain that, if the person continues to overload the spine, may not go away.

What to do: Back pain due to excessive exertion tends to improve in a few days with rest and measures such as applying compresses with warm water and massage. Discover more ways to relieve back pain.

In addition, sometimes the doctor may also prescribe medications, such as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants, to relieve pain. However, it is recommended not to overload the spine with too much weight and physical exercise, so that the pain does not happen again.

2. Bad posture

Poor posture can cause back pain due to prolonged stress on muscles and ligaments. Furthermore, when a person continues to have poor posture, back pain may not go away.

What to do: Back pain due to poor posture tends to improve when the person changes their posture to carry out daily activities.

However, sometimes the doctor may recommend physiotherapy and physical activities with the guidance of a professional, to help correct posture through stretching and muscle strengthening. Check out some stretches for back pain.

3. Herniated disc

Back pain caused by a herniated disc usually does not go away without proper treatment. Furthermore, when there is compression of the spinal cord, it is common for symptoms to appear, such as pain, tingling, a burning sensation or weakness in other parts of the body. See more symptoms of a herniated disc.

What to do: If a herniated disc is suspected, it is recommended to consult an orthopedist to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment, which is normally done with the use of anti-inflammatory medications, physiotherapy and, in the most serious cases, surgery.

4. Fracture of spinal bones

Fractured bones in the spine can cause back pain that does not go away and tends to worsen with movement, especially when walking or standing, and is normally noticed by the person after blows and falls, for example. Learn more fracture symptoms.

However, especially in the case of diseases such as osteoporosis or spinal tumors, it is not always possible to identify a specific cause for the fracture, which can sometimes cause few symptoms.

What to do: In case of suspected vertebra fracture, it is recommended to seek an emergency room, especially after blows or falls, for example. Treatment for fractured bones in the spine may involve rest, use of painkillers, physical therapy and surgery.

5. Spine cancer

Although it is rare, spinal bone cancer usually causes back pain that does not go away, even with rest. Furthermore, the pain tends to worsen over time and be stronger at night, and may even wake the person up. Understand what it is and the main symptoms of bone cancer.

What to do: If spine cancer is suspected, it is recommended to consult an orthopedist to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment, which may involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy and/or surgery.

How to know if back pain is serious

Back pain can be serious especially if:

  • History of cancer, accidents or strong blows;
  • Prolonged use of oral corticosteroid medications;
  • Weight loss;
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis and cancer;
  • Numbness, tingling, burning or pain in other parts of the body;
  • Loss of muscle strength;
  • Difficulty urinating or evacuating;
  • Fecal or urinary incontinence.

However, when the pain is constant and does not go away even with rest and application of compresses, it can also be indicative of more serious situations, such as a fractured vertebra or bone cancer, and it is important to consult an orthopedist for an evaluation.

The orthopedist may recommend imaging tests, such as spinal x-rays and computed tomography, which can identify changes in the spine, to confirm the diagnosis.