If you ignore a back problem, it will likely not go away on its own. Sometimes you can get through an episode when it’s early in the condition with some over the counter medications and rests. So you’d think. If the underlying problem is never addressed, the back pain problem is there to resurface again at a later date.
Usually, when the pain returns, it hurts a little bit more and lasts a little bit longer. Over time, the episodes will start to show up more frequently until the person takes the actions necessary to create a more substantial healing. (Hopefully, they go to see a chiropractor and get their spine in its proper alignment instead of relying on stronger and stronger medications.)
More often than not, the person dealing with the back pain follows their doctor’s orders and concern themselves with their back only when the pain shows up. Then they return to doing all the same things that led them to the problem in the first place. Then the symptoms return and they show back up to their doctor.
“I know what I’ve got, doc. Last time you told me it was my L5 disc.” They then expect you to do what you did last time, give them the relief in the same time frame you gave it to them last time and they can get on with their lives. Sometimes it happens just like that, sometimes the episode takes a couple of extra days to return back to normal.
Eventually, they’ll get the same condition, they’ll show back up to your office, expect the same results… and they won’t happen. The doctor will end up doing more tests and discover that they don’t just have an “L5 disc” problem anymore. They now have L4 and L5 and the sciatic nerve is being compressed. The previously minor disc bulge at L5 has turned into a full-blown disc herniation with potentially more invasive treatment needed to alleviate the pain.
How could this have been avoided? Once you’ve been notified that you have a back problem, seek relief from the pain first. Once the pain is gone, you must distinguish that your “pain” and your “problem” are two different things. Celebrate the relief of your pain, but evaluate what may have led to the problem in the first place.
Are you strengthening your back muscles? Are you getting enough exercise? How are your daily activities contributing to the problem and how can they be modified. Don’t accept your back condition and assume it will never change or get worse. Most of them can and do get worse over time.