Which would you rather have: the common cold or lower back pain? That may seem like a silly question with an obvious answer — “Neither!”


However, most of us aren’t that lucky. When it comes to missing work, the common cold and lower back pain are top reasons for many Americans. While a common cold may mean a week of feeling miserable, lower back pain can make your daily routine difficult and in some cases, impossible indefinitely.




As many as eight out of 10 people are affected by back pain at some point in their lives. It may be dull, sharp, specific or feel like your entire back hurts. A problem in your lower back also can cause symptoms in your legs, such as a herniated disk creating pain that radiates down your legs.


According to Jeffrey B. Wood, M.D., board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon with the Houston Methodist Neuroscience & Spine Center at Sugar Land, causes of low back pain may include:

  • Degenerative conditions, such as arthritis or osteoporosis
  • Improper lifting techniques, resulting in muscle or spine injuries
  • Trauma, such as a fall or car accident
  • Viral infections


It’s important to see your doctor for back pain because it may indicate a more serious medical problem, such as a pinched nerve.


People with diabetes should tell their doctor about any back pain or pain radiating down the leg because it may indicate nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy).


“While many people may think taking it easy for a bit of time can make back pain go away, the truth is the pain may be a symptom of a more serious issue,” Wood said. “In order to find out the root cause and prevent any further damage, it is important to schedule a visit with your doctor if the pain doesn’t go away within a week.”




When you visit your doctor, you’ll be asked questions about your pain. You may also need to undergo some testing to determine the cause and best treatment. Treatment options may include pain medications, muscle relaxants, exercises, massage, steroid injections and/or physical therapy to prevent future injury. Surgery may be an option if less-aggressive treatments fail.


Today’s surgical options are less invasive with smaller incisions, resulting in less pain and shorter hospital stays. Whereas spinal surgery used to require two weeks in the hospital, it now can be just a few days or even outpatient.


From physical therapists and pain management specialists to orthopedic surgeons, Houston Methodist Neuroscience & Spine Center takes a comprehensive approach to pinpointing why your back hurts, stopping the pain and preventing it from recurring.


To schedule an appointment with Jeffrey B. Wood, M.D., or another specialist at the Houston Methodist Neuroscience & Spine Center at Sugar Land, go to houstonmethodist.org/neuro-sl and fill out the online form or call 281.274.7979.




Join Jeffrey B. Wood, M.D. , Christian Peccora, MD and Marvin C. Chang, M.D. as they discuss causes, latest treatment options and prevention on Thursday, April 16 at 6 p.m. in the Brazos Pavilion Conference Center. Registration is required. To find out more information or to register visit events.houstonmethodist.org/backpain-sl or call 281.274.7500