Ask A Pro

Q

I hurt my back working in the garden. I thought it would get better on its own, but it hasn’t. How long should I live with the pain before I seek treatment?

 
A

Often we experience pain in a simple manner, such as, “Ouch! That hurts!” But pain is extremely complex. Pain can be generated by a stimulus, be a perception of the brain, be localized, be generalized, and much, much more. One simple classification of pain is three categories: acute, subacute, and chronic. Acute pain lasts less than one month, and typically goes away when the cause has been treated or healed. A lumbar strain or spasm from too much gardening can be treated easily in the acute phases, but could start to create other dysfunction that ultimately complicates treatment the longer it is ignored! Subacute pain is pain that lasts from 1-6 months. Chronic pain is pain lasting for more than six months, or pain that extends beyond the expected time frame for healing. While there are treatment options for chronic pain, more successful treatment occurs during the first six months. If you are not seeing any improvement of your symptoms within 2-3 months from the initial injury, seek treatment. If ignored, more structures can become involved due to compensations. A physical therapist is trained to treat your pain and the cause of your pain.

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