Back Pain FAQs

Back pain can develop gradually or surprise you without warning. If you’re experiencing back pain, then you probably have A TON of questions. How did it start? When will it stop? And, what can you do to alleviate the pain?

Up to 80% of Americans will be affected by chronic back pain at some point in their lives. The more you know your back pain, the better chance you have to understand, prevent, and treat this troublesome condition.

If you’re searching for answers about your back pain, then you’ve come to the right spot. Use this guide as a jumping-off point in your quest to reclaim your life from chronic back pain!

Most short-term back pain results from strains or sprains to the soft tissues (i.e. the muscles or ligaments) that support your spine. Also, mechanical issues, such as disc degeneration, can change the structure of the spine, thus affecting joints, vertebrae, and the nerves that pass through the spinal column.

When back pain is related to sprains and strains, it may only last for a few days to a couple of weeks. With rest and self-care, many back issues will resolve as the irritated tissues heal. In fact, 80% of those with acute back pain will feel better within six weeks. If your pain persists for longer or is particularly bothersome, you know it’s time to see a doctor.

Acute back pain is temporary pain or discomfort that occurs in the back after an injury or trauma. In many cases, time, self-care, and conservative treatments will allow these issues to resolve without any lingering loss of function.

Chronic back pain refers to discomfort and/or other symptoms that last for longer than three months. About 20% of those affected by acute back pain go on to develop chronic back pain. Fortunately, medical and/or surgical treatments can be effective in resolving chronic back pain.

Risk factors for developing back pain include age and physical condition. Older people and those who are overweight run a higher risk of developing back pain. Also, “weekend warriors” or those who have jobs involving heavy lifting are more likely to develop back pain than others.

We don’t live in a bubble. Our muscles and joints react to our environment. Changes in temperature and barometric pressure can sometimes lead to increased pain in arthritic joints, including the spine.

Being mindful of your posture, how you lift objects, and performing sports and physical activities with the proper body mechanics can prevent back pain. In addition, try to use ergonomically correct furniture when working at a desk for long hours. Also, aim to maintain a healthy BMI as well as strong core and back muscles.

Yes. Bad posture habits like slumping over when you sit, arching your back, or spending long hours hunched over an electronic device apply added stress to the spine and the soft tissues supporting it.

In many cases, back pain is a muscular or skeletal issue. There are times, however, when back pain can indicate a symptom of a more serious problem like spine cancer. As cancer metastasizes, it can spread to the spine leading to back pain. Those with a history of cancer should see a doctor about any new or unusual back pain symptoms.

If you are suffering from acute back pain, then there are some things you could do at home to relieve the pain. Rest, ice, and heat can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and give the body a chance to heal. Over-the-counter medications may also assist in reducing back pain and inflammation.

If you’re dealing with back pain, then you may want to sit or lie down. Walking, however, may be a great way to manage your back pain. Muscular movement allows blood to circulate which can hasten the healing process. Walking also helps to build and maintain muscles as well as boosts your mood.

If your back pain seems to worsen as time goes on or involves neurological symptoms like numbness, weakness, or pain that radiates to other areas of the body, you should see your doctor. In addition, request an immediate appointment if you’ve undergone a recent trauma (such as a fall) or experience a sudden loss of bodily functions.

Many causes of back pain involve soft tissue and/or structural issues with the spine. It may not be a medical emergency. If you experience a high fever, loss of bladder and/or bowel control, muscle weakness in the legs, or severe stomach pain, then you should see a doctor immediately.

Several medications—prescription and over-the-counter—demonstrate effectiveness in treating back pain. Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs and acetaminophen can assist in the short-term. Your doctor may also recommend prescription medications; however, these medications should be used sparingly to avoid dependency.

Surgery is often considered a last resort for a herniated disc. In many cases, your doctor will attempt conservative treatments like physical therapy before recommending surgery. If pain persists and you cannot perform everyday activities, surgery may be an option.

Many back surgeries fall into four main categories—discectomy, spinal fusion, laminectomy, and vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty. Choosing surgery is a highly individualized process. Consulting with an orthopedic surgeon may be the best way to determine if surgery is right for you.

By now, you probably have a basic understanding of back pain and treatments. Do you still have more questions?

Sometimes the best answers come after consultation and a thorough exam from a qualified orthopedic doctor.

The Advanced Spine Center has a team of award-winning doctors with over six combined decades of experience in treating a variety of spine disorders. Using both proven therapies and minimally invasive surgical techniques, our team will get to know you, your symptoms, goals for treatment, and take the time to answer all of your questions.

Ready to get started? Consider taking our Patient Pain Quiz. Answer a few questions and start the process of getting your life back. If you need to request a consultation or second opinion, then please call us at (973) 538-0900 to set up an appointment.

We look forward to helping you!

Patient Testimonials

Sheri Groh
Sheri Groh
I had a great experience with the whole Team at the Advanced Spine Center. From check in, which went smoothly and I didn't have to wait long at all, to Richard explaining my Insurance coverage, to the associates taking my x-rays, to the Physician's Assistant Tonya who went over my x-rays and MRI in detail and then performed a physical to test my strength and mobility. She was awesome and very patient with me. Then of course, Dr. Gatto who understood what I already tried and talked me through my options and what his best recommendations would be. I am only at the beginning of my treatment with him but so far, he has turned my pessimism into optimism.
Michael J (Mike) Frey
Michael J (Mike) Frey
Great staff and doctors. It was a pleasant experience to get my issues resolved.
Randy Z
Randy Z
Dr. Naseef has to be the best if not one of the best spine surgeons around. Dr. Naseef took on my case and performed thoracic decompression and spinal fusion on my spine, and I'll admit I was a very high risk patient. I went into the hospital with severe lower back, hip, and knee pain. I was unable to stand, or walk without some type of help. Although this was my main issue, so I thought, Dr. Naseef found there was a more severe issue that needed addressing first. When Dr. Naseef reviewed my tests and scans he found that my T10 vertebrae was crushing the nerves in my back, and would need immediate surgery to decompress the nerves and to fuse the vertebrae with rods and screws. Dr. Naseef along with his finest team of expert Doctors and technicians performed a very difficult operation, that turned out well. I will be going back to Dr, Naseef for the additional lumbar surgery that I need and will trust no one else but Dr. Naseef along with his team of experts. This will be a long journey as, I need to have a hip, and 2 knees replaced before going in for more back surgery. I have all the confidence in the world that Dr. Naseef will perform another expertly executed procedure. Thank You To Dr. Naseef all the people at Advanced Spine Center, also to the team of experts ,all the PAs that work along side Dr. Naseef. Everyone in his office are friendly compassionate , and professional , but also real people who are easy to talk with
Michael Greenberg
Michael Greenberg
5 stars doesn't begin to give Dr. Gatto and his team enough credit for the amazing skill and care I received. I most likely wouldn't be walking today if not for Dr. Gatto. I noticed new back pain in October 2021, I ignored it as I had a bad experience with a back surgeon in 2020 at HSS in NYC. My pain grew worse as the months went on, then one day in March 2022 I literally fell flat because my legs stop functioning. I was very scared and distraught assuming that there would be no way to contact a surgeon on such short notice. I called Dr. Gatto's office late that afternoon and I was able to leave a message with a very sincere and helpful person who told me that they would relay my information to Dr. Gatto that evening. I thought that at best I would hear from someone by the next morning. I was wrong, Dr. Gatto called me that evening to give me an over the phone exam. Based on those results Dr. Gatto expedited my fusion surgery and only 3 months later I am pain free and feel like a new man. I fear that if I had to wait even one more day, I could have permanent numbness around my entire waist and down both legs and feet. I am giving Dr. Gatto 100++ ⭐️s! I can't begin to thank Dr. Gatto and his team enough for giving me a second chance to live a normal life. I highly recommend Dr. Gatto and his amazing team!
Lindsay Morlock
Lindsay Morlock
I have only had wonderful experiences working with the the Advanced Spine Center! Dr. Naseef, Matt and the team have been amazing partners in my care and multiple spine surgeries. Interacting with everyone from the reception desk to the office staff has been a smooth and easy process. My phone calls are returned and attention to my needs always given. I am so grateful to my care team for all the help they have given me over the last 11 years!
Don Dahler
Don Dahler
There are very few people you meet who completely change your life for the better. Dr. Lowenstein and the wonderful staff at the Advanced Spine Center are examples of that kind of person. Our son suffered a stress fracture on his lower spine at 13 likely caused by playing sports. It took two years to find a doctor who correctly diagnosed it. Dr. Lowenstein was recommended to us by another doctor we respect greatly, and he immediately took on our case. The spondylosis repair was successful and our son is now back to playing high school sports, including competing in the state tournament in tennis. Dr. Lowenstein and his staff, especially including Tanya, were kind, informative, professional yet compassionate. They explained the process and recovery path carefully so there were no surprises. While the recovery period was a long one given the kind of injury and surgery, it was completely successful. We could not be more grateful to this talented surgeon and his entire staff. Our son, now 16, is pain-free and living life with joy.
Al Pierce
Al Pierce
I had lumbar spinal stenosis surgery in December 2021. Dr. Lowenstein performed the surgery. The surgery and the hospital stay were spot on. It's been six months and I am back to normal. Dr. Lowenstein is definitely the go to surgeon.