When your back hurts all or most of the time, it can affect more than just your body. There's an emotional side to chronic pain. You may need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. You need support.
Support groups-where you meet or talk to people who are dealing with the same issues you are-can be a great source of comfort and advice.
Because there are many causes of back pain, it is important for your doctor to do a thorough history and physical examination to determine if a spinal disk problem is the root of your back pain. A herniated or slipped disk may press on the nerves coming out from the spinal cord, and it may show up in a targeted neurological exam. Your doctor will check your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensation for abnormalities or changes, especially those that involve the lower extremities.
A spinal X-ray may...
Some support groups focus on education. These groups often are led by a professional, such as a teacher or a doctor who shares information about the problem. Other groups focus on support. They often include only people who have the same problem. These are called peer groups.
In a peer group, you'll find people who are going through the same things you are. You'll see that you're not the only one and that others have the same feelings and challenges as you. Group members can give you support, advice, and encouragement. You can see what is working for others and decide if it might work for you.
You can help others in the group by paying attention and letting them know you are listening and by sharing your thoughts. Your experiences and ideas may be new to them. Being able to help others is rewarding and helps you gain self-confidence.
Peer support may include consumer providers and consumer-run services.
A consumer provider is someone who has been trained to help others with the same type of problems. You can find consumer providers in clinics. Because they know what you have gone through, they can be good role models and coaches.
A consumer-run service is a group, or part of a group, in which people with the same problem provide services. These services include support groups, peer counseling, telephone help lines, and drop-in centers.
Ask your doctor, counselor, or other health professional for suggestions.
Ask your religious leader. You can contact churches, mosques, synagogues, or other religious groups.
Ask your family and friends.
Contact a city, state, or national group for back pain or chronic pain. Your library, community center, or phone book may have a list.
Search the Internet. Forums, email lists, and chat rooms let you read messages from others and leave your own messages. You can exchange stories, let off steam, and ask and answer questions.
Look for a support group that works for you. Ask yourself if you prefer structure and would like a group leader, or if you'd like a less formal group. Do you prefer face-to-face meetings, or do you feel more secure in Internet chat rooms or forums?