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Jack's Story: Will I Need Surgery?

Jack's story

Picture of a man

Jack remembers it well—and not in a good way. "I'll never forget the first time I had back pain. I couldn’t move. I had to crawl to the car and push and pull myself into the seat. The drive to the doctor’s was hard. The pain was unreal."

When Jack got to his doctor’s office, he had questions.

"What can you do? Will I need surgery?"

All sorts of help

Jack told his doctor that the pain started in the middle of the night. He hadn’t been involved in an accident, and he’d never had back problems before.

His doctor told him that an over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) could probably take care of the pain. He also gave him a prescription for a stronger pain pill, just in case.

"He said I should walk if possible and try to be active," Jack says. "I asked about tests, like an X-ray, and he said that at this point, they would not help."

Slow and steady progress

His back improved, but it was slow. "I missed 3 to 4 days of work. When I went back to work, I stood during meetings and took several short walks a day. It still hurt a lot. But it was getting better. It took about 2 months to really feel okay again."

The experience got Jack thinking about his back. He talked to friends about back pain, searched the Internet on the topic, and talked more with his doctor. He found that low back pain can really hurt, but you probably don’t need tests, and surgery is rarely needed. But most of all, he learned that you need time.

"Some people get better fast, but others take a lot of time. That was my case. If you have back pain, do what you can for it, but don’t be in a hurry. It usually gets better."

This story is based on information gathered from many people living with low back pain.

For more information, see the topic:

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised December 14, 2011

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