Welcome to BackCareCanada.ca
Right now your lower back may be hurting…a lot. The pain could have started suddenly—for example, after you lifted something or bent over. Or maybe the symptoms developed without any obvious cause. But the effect is the same: you aren’t able to carry on with your normal activities, your sleep is being affected, and you want relief.
You may have noticed pain radiating down your leg and even into your foot. The leg pain may be constant or come and go. It can change according to your position (sitting, standing, lying down) or your activity. Your back may feel stiff or ‘tight’ when you first get up in the morning or after you’ve been in one position for a long time but once you start moving, this symptom may go away.
Our goal is to help you better manage your symptoms and let you make more informed decisions about seeking treatment.
Who should use this site?
BackCareCanada.ca is aimed at people who suffer back and back-related leg pain. The pain can be from a first attack or be part of a recurring problem. The content was developed by a team of back pain experts, including family physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors and surgeons. You will find this site helpful if:
- You’re having some symptoms that are bothering you and want to learn more about your situation.
- You’ve been trying to manage your symptoms on your own, but you’re wondering if it’s time to see a health care professional.
- Your back and back-related leg pain is affecting your daily life at work and at home and you’re ready to explore treatment options.
- You’re already receiving care and want to educate yourself further about treatment.
- You know someone with back or leg pain and want to understand what is available to them.
This information is NOTmeant to replace the specific care provided by your doctor or another other health professional. If you have questions about anything you read here, please speak to your health care provider.
Common myths – Real facts
“I can hardly move. Something must really be wrong with me.”
Many people who suffer a first attack of back and back-related leg pain think something must be seriously wrong. Of course it’s reasonable to be concerned, especially if the pain is severe and you can’t function normally at home and at work. But in most cases, even though your back hurts a lot, your health care provider can reassure you that your condition, while painful, isn’t medically serious.
What you should know
You aren’t alone. About 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Often the pain will radiate down the leg, although in most cases the back pain remains dominant.
More than 90% of back and back-related leg pain is ‘benign’—that is, not caused by a serious underlying injury or disease. In the rare cases where symptoms do suggest something more sinister, the problem can generally be detected and treated.
Back and back-related leg pain symptoms generally get better over time with or without treatment. This is true, even when the early symptoms are extremely severe and when people believe that their pain will never go away. People in the grip of the pain can learn how to successfully manage their symptoms as recovery occurs naturally.
Finally, if symptoms don’t improve or go away and a structural problem in the spine is diagnosed, a number of specialized treatment options can provide safe and effective relief.
Over 80% of individuals experience pain in their spine at some point in their lives. Back pain remains one of the most common reasons to visit the doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist. (Power et al 2006).
In Canada, medical expenditures with respect to low back pain are estimated between $6 and $12 billion annually. Low back pain and related ailments have a significant economic impact on society due to the loss in worker productivity, resultant time off work, and the associated disability payments (Collins et al 2005).
BackCareCanada.ca gives patients and their families general information about back pain, conventional treatments and what to expect before and after back surgery. Your own experiences may not be exactly the same because practices are not the same in every hospital and rehabilitation program. The treatments and outcomes discussed are specific to the condition presented and are not to be generalized to more serious spinal problems such as cancer, infection, significant trauma or other disorders affecting the spine such as ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis. The content of this web site has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and helpfulness to the intended audience by health professionals including surgeons, physiotherapists and chiropractors. While we have made efforts to ensure the information in on the website is accurate and reliable, we cannot guarantee that it is either complete or error-free. The information here is NOT meant to replace advice from your physician or another health care professional. Before making treatment decisions or if you have questions about your specific situation, speak to a health care provider.