ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have back pain and stomach aches?

Question

Why do I have back pain and stomach aches?

I'm a 37 year old woman with severe back pain that's on and off for a long time. I also have intense pain and stiffness that makes it difficult to walk right. Sometimes it's tough for me to lift my feet at all. What could cause this? The walking pain is pretty recent.

Answer

Unfortunately, chronic back pain is all too common a complaint. There are many different causes, many of which require physical therapy and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Occasionally there are surgical solutions to chronic back pain. An orthopedic surgeon that specializes in back troubles may be the best type of physician for you to see. Back pain that has been going off and on for a long time is often a problem with the intervertebral discs. These are the the cartilage in between the vertebrae that act as a shock absorber when you walk. They can degenerate (as in degenerative disc disease). This is a very common cause of chronic low back pain. They can herniate as what happens with a slipped disc. This can cause back pain that radiates down one of your legs. This can make it difficult for you to lift you legs up and walk. The first line treatment for both of these problems is physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications if you are healthy enough to take them. Finally, patient's with osteoporosis can suffer from small breaks in their spine causing long term back pain. The best type of test to distinguish between these possibilities is an MRI. This may be one of the tests your doctor orders first.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.