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If you have back pain, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work, routine daily activities, or recreation. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States - only headache is more common Fortunately, most occurrences of back pain go away within a few days. Others take much longer to resolve or lead to more serious conditions.
"Acute" or short-term pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute pain is mechanical in nature and is the result of trauma to the back or a disorder such as arthritis. Pain from trauma may be caused by a sports injury, work around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other stress on spinal bones and tissues. Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and /or range of motion, or an inability to stand straight. Occasionally, pain felt in one part of the body may radiate from a disorder or injury elsewhere in the body. Some acute pain syndromes can become more serious if left untreated.
"Chronic" pain is measured by duration. Pain that persists for more than three (3) months is considered chronic. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine.