Lower back pain can have a variety of causes, from compressed or pinched nerves to muscle spasms or degenerative disc disease. While acute (sudden) back pain usually has an identifiable cause (accident or fall, pulling a muscle, etc.), if you suffer from chronic back pain, a visit to the doctor may be in order, so the cause of your lower back pain can be determined and treatment can start right away. The symptoms you experience, as well as the severity of your pain, can all help determine the underlying cause, so be sure to tell your doctor about any and all symptoms you're experiencing, and never say you're in less pain than you are. When talking to your doctor about your lower back pain, be sure to ask the following questions. 

Are there any serious medical conditions that could be causing my lower back pain?

Most cases of lower back pain are caused by issues with the muscles, nerves, tendons or spine, but some types of lower back pain can be a symptom of more serious medical issues. Ask your doctor if there are any underlying conditions that may be causing your back pain. 

Should I take medication to help control my lower back pain?

Your doctor may recommend medication to help alleviate lower back pain. If the pain is mild, over-the-counter NSAID's may be all you need to ease pain and other symptoms. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as pain relievers or muscle relaxants. 

Are there any exercises or activities I can do to help ease my lower back pain?

Certain exercises, activities or stretches may help ease lower back pain, and could even help prevent future back pain. Talk to your doctor about whether exercise or stretching will help, or if there are other activities you can do that will help with your pain. 

Will my lower back pain get worse over time?

In some cases, lower back pain may get progressively worse over time, especially if left untreated. Ask your doctor whether your lower back pain will get better or worse over time.

Are there any at-home treatments for lower back pain that I should try?

There are several home remedies that can help ease lower back pain. These include hot baths, stretches, lifestyle changes and heating pads, which can help relax muscles and ease pain. Ask your doctor about any at-home remedies that may work for you.  

Should I take narcotic pain relievers for my back pain?

If you have acute back pain, your doctor may prescribe narcotic pan medication, such as Vicodin. If your back pain is considered chronic, however, your doctor will likely not put you on narcotic pain medication, since the risk of dependence may be too high. Ask your doctor what the recommended treatment is, and what medications you will be taking. 

What if I can't work due to lower back pain?

If you're unable to work for a short period of time due to lower back pain, your doctor may be willing to give you a written excuse from work. If your back pain is chronic or severe, however, you may be able to file for disability, with the help of your doctor. Ask your doctor about your options if you're unable to work due to lower back pain. 

Will I need surgery to correct my lower back pain?

In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to address the issues causing your lower back pain. This is typically only done in severe cases, however, when all other treatment options have been tried. If you think surgery may be a good option for you, talk to your doctor and ask whether you're  a good candidate for surgery or not.