When To See A Doctor For Your Lower Back Pain
Knowing when to see a doctor for lower back pain is an important step to find relief. First, youll want to consider if your lower back pain is acute or chronic. While acute lower back pain is a short-term condition that typically improves within a few weeks or months, chronic back pain is long-term and may be persistent even if you experience some periods of relief.
There are several red flags to look out for when determining if you should see a doctor for lower back pain. These warning signs may indicate an underlying issue, such as a spinal infection, tumor or fracture. Even if you dont experience these symptoms, seeing a physician may still help you create an effective treatment to manage back pain.
If you experience low back pain with any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your physician immediately:
- Radiating pain down the legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Medical history of cancer, osteoporosis, chronic steroid use or suppressed immune system
How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Electromyography to test nerves and muscles and check for neuropathy , which can cause tingling or numbness in your legs.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
% Of People Will Experience Back Pain At Some Time But There Are Ways To Find Relief
As people enter middle age, they are more likely to experience bouts of low back pain. In fact, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward, back pain affects about four in five Americans at some point in their lives and equally strikes men and women.
Age is often the culprit. Over time, the bones and joints in your lower back begin to change. Your discs tend to wear out and sometimes become fragmented. These structural alterations sometimes cause pain.
Another cause of low back pain, although it occurs less often, is a herniated disc. Sometimes, a disc pushes outside the space between the bones and compresses a nerve at the point where it branches off the spinal cord. When the sciatic nerve that leads into the buttocks and leg is affected, the pain is called sciatica.
Yet, most cases of low back pain stem from strain or sprain due to simple overuse, unaccustomed activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. In most cases the best move is to wait and see if the pain resolves on its own. If the pain does not improve after three to four days, then it’s time to see a doctor.
However, depending on the source of your back pain and its severity, you might try a few home remedies for low back pain to help ease the pain until your back returns to normal. Here are several options to consider:
Complementary therapies. Several types of complementary therapy may be helpful for relief from low back pain. These include:
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What Exactly Is The Lower Back Anyway
Your lower back is known as the lumbar region of the spine. It has a lot of heavy lifting to do: The lumbar spine carries the weight of your entire upper body, plus biomechanical stresses that occur with movement.
The lumbar spine has five vertebraebackbones. Each vertebra has a large disc cushiony gel wrapped in a tough membrane on its front side that acts as a shock absorber. Each vertebra also has two cartilage-lined facet joints on its back side. Working together, discs and facet joints allow the spine to safely bend and twist.
Your lower back also includes ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Ligaments are strong bands that hold the vertebrae and discs together. Tendons attach muscles to the vertebrae. These structures help limit excessive movement that could harm the spinal cord.
What Structures Make Up The Back
The lower backwhere most back pain occursincludes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.
Other regions of vertebrate are cervical , thoracic , and sacral and coccygeal segments.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
A complete medical history and physical exam can usually identify any serious conditions that may be causing the pain. Neurologic tests can help determine the cause of pain and appropriate treatment. Imaging tests are not needed in most cases but may be ordered to rule out specific causes of pain, including tumors and spinal stenosis. Occasionally the cause of chronic lower back pain is difficult to determine even after a thorough examination.
Blood tests are not routinely used to diagnose the cause of back pain but might be ordered to look for signs of inflammation, infection, cancer, and/or arthritis.
Bone scans can detect and monitor an infection, fracture, or bone disorder. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and collects in the bones, particularly in areas with some abnormality. Scanner-generated images can identify specific areas of irregular bone metabolism or abnormal blood flow, as well as to measure levels of joint disease.
Discography involves injecting a contrast dye into a spinal disc thought to be causing low back pain. The fluids pressure in the disc will reproduce the persons symptoms if the disc is the cause. The dye helps to show the damaged areas on CT scans taken following the injection.
Electrodiagnostics can identify problems related to the nerves in the back and legs. The procedures include:
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What Are Other Causes Of Lower Back Pain
Other causes of low back pain include kidney problems, pregnancy, ovary problems, and tumors.
Kidney infections, stones, and traumatic bleeding of the kidney are frequently associated with low back pain. Diagnosis can involve urine analysis, sound-wave tests , or other imaging studies of the abdomen.
Pregnancy commonly leads to low back pain by mechanically stressing the lumbar spine and by the positioning of the baby inside of the abdomen. Additionally, the effects of the female hormone estrogen and the ligament-loosening hormone relaxin may contribute to loosening of the ligaments and structures of the back. Pelvic-tilt exercises and stretches are often recommended for relieving this pain. Women are also recommended to maintain physical conditioning during pregnancy according to their doctors’ advice. Natural labor can also cause low back pain.
Ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis may also cause low back pain. Precise diagnosis can require gynecologic examination and testing.
What Are Some Usual Lower Back Ache Causes
The origin of lower pain in the back are often thought about as being mechanical, idiopathic or natural. Frequently back conditions are genetic or obtained indicating the problem creates later in life.
Mechanical lower back soreness is frequently brought on by spine activity as well as likewise includes spine frameworks, such as the element joints, intervertebral discs, vertebral bodies , tendons, muscular tissue mass or soft cells.
Organic lower back soreness is attributed to health problem, such as back cancer cells.
Idiopathic refers to an unidentified cause.
These are a few of points your doctor might try to rule or find out when you organize a browse through for back ache.
Sprains and anxiety. Ligament sprains as well as muscle or ligament stress are just one of one of the most normal causes of lower back soreness. Theyre often related to overuse.
Degenerative disc problem. While the name appears anxious, it merely suggests you have actually a harmed disc creating discomfort.
In time, discs end up being thinner as well as flatter as a result of damage. That leaves them much less able to support the vertebrae as well as even more potential to tear .
The protective covering on intervertebral discs can tear in time. The soft inner disc cells may push through the outer layer when this occurs. A disc that sticks out or slides out of place is described as a herniated disc, protruding disc, or slid disc.
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Injections And Other Procedures
Depending on the source of your pain for example, if you have sciatica epidural injections may be helpful. Injections in the spine arent recommended for non-specific lower back pain though. If your back pain is chronic and other treatments havent helped, there is a procedure called radiofrequency denervation that uses a needle to treat the pain. This is only suitable for some people and you may need to have other tests beforehand. Speak to your specialist for advice.
Fixing The Root Cause
Now that your pain is relieved, you can focus on treating the root cause of your pinched nerve.
The best way to do that is by rebuilding the support structure of your back.
A healthy back comes from within. You cant fix it with a pill. You cant get it from a gadget. And the surgeon cant install it on the operating table .
Consider physically rebuilding your back support system.
In simpler terms restore the muscle balances in your lower back.
You can learn more about muscle imbalances, how they caused your pinched nerve in the first place, and how to fix them HERE.
What have you tried so far to fix your pinched nerve? Share with us in the comments below.
To your health and happiness,
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Discover The Joy Of Movement
You are not alone if you currently have back pain, which is one of the most common types of body pain. Discovering how to reduce your pain can help you to live life to the full once more.
When youre in pain, its natural to try to avoid moving too much. After all, it hurts! But keeping the body active every day is one of the best ways to manage and prevent pain. Even if you feel some discomfort at first, it is worth persevering as moving helps to avoid stiffness, keeps your muscles strong and aids the healing process.
You may relieve back pain with some gentle back exercises and activities. Rediscover the joy of movement and dont be held back by back pain.
How Long Does Lower Neck And Back Pain Typically Last
Lower back pain can be classified as extreme, subacute or consistent. Serious episodes of lower neck and back pain typically last from a few days to 4 weeks and also subacute lower neck and back pain lasts in between 4 to 12 weeks.
According to the National Institutes of Health, regarding 20 percent of people with extreme back suffering take place to establish persistent back soreness defined as soreness that lasts 12 weeks or longer.
Also in these situations, there are a number of treatment choices to assist eliminate lower pain in the back indications.
When your back is genuinely eliminating you, you may stress something is seriously wrong. The very same chooses pain in the back that seems nonstop.
The bright side is that while back distress is a major inconvenience, it is seldom an instant medical trouble. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time you do not need to treat it.
Neck and back pain normally manages by itself unless you have a significant underlying trouble. Lower Neck And Back Pain Can not Bend Down.
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Back Suffering Perpetrator: Your Exercise
Overdoing it at the fitness center or fairway is just among among one of the most typical causes of overextended muscular tissue mass creating low neck and back pain. If you have a propensity to be inactive throughout the task week as well as then invest humans resources at the wellness club or softball area on the weekend break, youre specifically at danger.
Relieving Your Back Pain
When you are suffering from an ache or struggling to get lower back pain relief, it may seem difficult to take a proactive approach to the matter. However, alleviating such aches may be largely within your control. If you make some simple changes in habit and lifestyle, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. At North Texas Medical Center, we take great pride in helping our community achieve better health. If you are suffering from backache, call us at , or contact us online today.
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Can Back Pain Be Prevented
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy
Why Do I Have Lower Back Pain
At Barefoot Physiotherapy, clients present with lower back pain from a variety of underlying causes. Your Physiotherapist aims to not only relieve your symptoms but utilise a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause and to help prevent the back pain from reoccurring.
When clients ask us, why do I have lower back pain? we will start with taking a thorough past and current medical history, including any previous aches/ pains or injuries to the body. This helps your Physiotherapist understand what condition your body is in, walking in the door.
Sore lower back causes are often related to a history of tight/reduced hip range, sore or weaker glute muscles, reduced ability to activate core muscles, and accumulated strain on the body. However, these issues might not be the cause if the client has had a direct, forceful mechanism of injury to the lower back, for example, a fall or a rugby tackle. Individuals with pain in their lower back may feel any of the following symptoms: a general ache in the muscle or joint, tightness throughout the back region, sharp/ pulling pains with movement, and it can affect the clients ability to move freely, i.e. walking, sitting and running.
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Rub On Medicated Creams
Skin creams, salves, ointments, or patches may help when your back feels stiff, sore, and tense. Many of these products contain ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or lidocaine that can cool, heat, or numb the affected area.
Put on creams right where you hurt. Ask someone to apply it if you have trouble reaching the spot.
âIt’s not going to be a mainstay at providing significant relief, but it can calm things down,â Ray says.
Support Your Body In A Warm Pool
The buoyancy of the water lets you enjoy the benefits of exercise with less pain. Exercising in water also helps regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles, relieving pain.14
If you prefer warmer pools, look into water exercise classes and hydrotherapy pools. Water therapy exercises are often done in water that is about 83 degrees to 88 degrees. Hydrotherapy pool temperatures are often more than 90 degrees.
See Water Therapy Exercise Program
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Clinical Contributors To This Story
Sagar Parikh, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pain Management.
Binge watching movies from a fixed position on your bed all day, every day seems like it may very well be the only option to help you power through the coronavirus pandemic while staying at home but did you know that doing this for too long can potentially lead to body stiffness and increased lower back pain?
According to Sagar Parikh, M.D., an interventional pain medicine specialist at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, about 80% of adults experience lower back pain at some point during their lifetimes due to common causes including:
- Lower back strain
- Improper spine alignment and stability
- Herniated disc
- Radiculopathy or sciatica
- Spinal stenosis
- Other causes related to the musculoskeletal system
And now more than ever with this lockdown, people need to get creative to try to prevent and/or alleviate back pain at home, says Dr. Parikh.