How Is Back Pain Diagnosed
A careful evaluation of your medical history and a physical examination will help your healthcare provider determine if you have mechanical back pain. He or she will then work with you to create an appropriate treatment plan.
If your healthcare provider has determined your back pain is mechanical, additional testing is not usually necessary. If your symptoms or the examination suggest the possibility of infection, malignancy, or a pinched nerve, additional tests may be done. Additional testing may include blood tests, x-rays, computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging and/or nerve conduction studies.
Recommended Reading: Back Pain Cleveland Clinic
What Are The Risks
Long bed rest can lead to slower recovery.Staying in bed for any prolonged period can make you stiff and increase pain. When you dont move and bend, you lose muscle strength and flexibility. With bed rest, you lose about 1 percent of your muscle strength each day. And you can lose 20 to 30 percent in a week. It becomes more difficult to return to any activity. As you become weaker and stiffer your recovery takes longer.
Who needs bed rest?Almost no one! The only people who might require time in bed are those with unstable spinal fractures awaiting surgery.
What can I do for the pain?Hot or cold packs often help. Some people can get pain relief from non-prescription analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen . But no medication should be taken for an extended period of time.
When should I see a health care provider?You should see your health care provider right away if:
- You have severe continuous back pain that lasts longer than 48 hours.
- You have severe continuous back pain and fever.
- You have back pain with accompanying pain, numbness or weakness in one or both legs or feet. Your leg symptoms are more disabling than your back symptoms.
- You have back pain and the onset of numbness in your private/genital region or changes in your ability to control your bladder and bowel function.
Recommended Reading: Advil Or Ibuprofen For Back Pain
Team Approach To Pain Management
For some, an integrated team of specialists may be best suited to manage the chronic lower back pain from degenerative disc disease. A team will usually comprise some combination of the following health professionals:
- A pain management specialist, such as a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician or anesthesiologist focused on pain management
- A physical therapist or physiatrist focused on rehabilitation
- A psychologist and/or psychiatrist for co-existing mental health issues, such as depression and/or difficulty sleeping
- An occupational therapist to assist with functional rehabilitation
In addition, a specialized nurse case manager or another health professional may work with the team to coordinate the care needed to treat depression, disability, and chronic pain.
Sometimes the combination of treatments is more effective than individual treatments. For example, the use of cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to improve the benefits of physical therapy3 and reduce sleep problems.
Recommended Reading: Will Naproxen Help Back Pain
Is Your Job Causing Back Pain
A job that involves pulling, lifting, or twisting with the low back can cause injury and low back pain. Even prolonged sitting in an awkward position can cause low back pain. Standing on your feet for hours on end? That can cause lower back pain too. The best way to prevent back pain is to know if you are at risk.
Jobs That Can Cause Lower Back Pain
- Airline crew
- Office personnel
What Is The Outlook
Most of us will have a bout of nonspecific low back pain at some point in our lives. The severity can vary. However, it is difficult to quote exact figures as to outlook . This is partly because it is so common and many people with back pain do not consult a doctor. Roughly, it is thought that:
- Most nonspecific back pains ease and go quickly, usually within a few weeks.
- In about 4 in 10 cases, the pain has completely gone within four weeks.
- In about 7 in 10 cases the pain has completely gone within one year.
However, once the pain has eased or gone it is common to have further bouts of pain from time to time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains on and off for quite some time after an initial bad bout of pain. In a small number of cases the pain persists for several months or longer. This is called chronic back pain.
Don’t Miss: Does Motrin Help With Back Pain
When Should I See My Doctor
If you have back pain and have lost feeling or movement in your limbs or are having problems controlling your bowels or bladder, call triple 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
You should see your doctor or other health care professional for further advice if:
- your pain bothers you
- your back pain doesnt improve after a few weeks or worsens
- you have symptoms such as weight loss, tingling or numbness in the legs, or problems with bladder and/or bowel control
- you have osteoporosis
You should see your doctor as soon as possible, if you have a history of cancer, are prone to infection, or use intravenous drugs.
For most people, back pain will resolve in a few weeks with appropriate self-care. After 2 months, 9 out of 10 people will recover from back pain.
Prevent It In The First Place
Do exercises to strengthen the core muscles supporting your spine, and your abdominal, back, and hip muscles. Avoid any exercise that causes you to stretch your back to the point of discomfort. Bend at the knees when lifting a heavy object, and keep it close to your body with your knees slightly bent as you hold it. Practice good posture: Dont slump when you sit, and use the muscles in your shoulders and abdomen to maintain your spine in a neutral position.
People with back pain sometimes also suffer from depression. Treating the depression can lessen the pain because the same chemical messengers in the brain influence your mood and how you perceive pain. The antidepressant duloxetine is FDA-approved for treating chronic lower back pain. A word of warning: The drug can cause rare but serious side effects, including lowered blood pressure and a risk of liver failure.
Editors Note: This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin .
Recommended Reading: Aleve Good For Back Pain
Treatments For Back Pain From A Specialist
A GP, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they do not think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These may include:
- group exercise classes where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
- manual therapy treatments, such as manipulating the spine and massage, which are usually done by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
- psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , which can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with pain
Some people choose to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing a GP first. If you want to do this, you’ll usually need to pay for private treatment.
Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.
The 7 Best Natural Cures For Inflammation In The Lower Back
No matter the cause of your lower back pain the pain you experience is caused by one thing:
How to know whats causing your inflammation in the lower back? How to eliminate the pain without depending on pain killers for life?
In this detailed guide, youll find all the answers: the common causes, the ultimate natural cures and how to avoid low back inflammation from coming back ever again.
First, lets start with lower back inflammation symptoms, and how they differ from mechanical lumbar pain:
Don’t Miss: Does Aleve Help Back Pain
Hot Or Cold Therapy For Low Back Pain
Hot or cold packs may help ease pain and reduce symptoms. The soothing relief from heat, or the dulling relief from a cold pack, is only temporary and will not treat more serious causes of back pain. However, they may provide greater mobility for people with acute, subacute, or chronic pain, allowing them to get up and get moving.
How To Prevent Back Pain When Standing
While standing up all day at work can be a real pain, it doesnt have to leave you in pain.
As by learning and practicing a few good habits you can take the pressure off your back and stand more comfortably.
So here are 10 ways you can prevent back pain when standing.
Try to implement a few of them into your daily routine and see if it helps you.
You May Like: Is Aleve Or Ibuprofen Better For Back Pain
Workouts That Can Cause Low Back Pain
Most athletic injuries to the back are sprains of the ligaments or strains of the muscles surrounding the spine. Serious conditions or complications can have similar symptoms to those of a routine sprain or strain. The most common sports injuries occur after repetitive overuse of the spine either through twisting, compression, or flexion. High impact sports such as running, football, or volleyball can often cause low back pain. Sports like golf, in which repetitive twisting is often involved, can also cause low back pain.
What Causes Lower Back Pain
Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:
- Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
- Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions increase the risk of fractures.
- Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae . Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear . With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection .
- Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
- Disease:Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.
Read Also: Does Aleve Help With Back Pain
Exercises To Strengthen And Relieve Pain
Core and back strength is incredibly important when it comes to low back pain. The following exercises are designed to help you strengthen these areas and ease the pain in your back. Well begin with the easy ones and move on to the more difficult ones.
Note: Most of these exercises require that you engage your ab muscles. The proper form calls for a drawing-in of the muscles, instead of a bulging-out. Your lower stomach should flatten in a little bit. If youre pushing your abs out, youre likely over-flexing.
Finding Lower Back Pain Relief
Nearly everyone will experience some form of back pain in his or her lifetime. The low back is the area behind the belly from the rib cage to the pelvis and is also called the lumbar region. Back pain is a major cause of missed work. Low back pain usually resolves on its own and is commonly the result of a strain injury. There are many treatments for low back pain.
At Risk for Lower Back Pain?
Low back pain can start in a persons early twenties and continue on throughout adulthood. Studies have shown that up to 80% of the general population are affected by low back pain at some time during their lives. Learn to prevent lower back pain by knowing what activities could be putting you at risk.
Common Causes of Low Back Pain
- Manual materials handling
- Bending the trunk to the side
- Excessive reaching
You May Like: How Much Advil Can I Take For Back Pain
Stand On A Sloped Surface
The other cows never understood how Daisy managed to stay standing longer than them.
Now Im not convinced with this one personally.
Because from my own experience I know that my back starts screaming after standing on an uneven surface, even for just a short amount of time.
But there is science to back up the benefits of standing on a sloped surface so I thought Id include it and you can make up your own mind!
For example one study tested how small groups of workers would react to standing on a sloped surface rather than a flat one.
And they found that the workers using the sloped surface had:
- Different pelvis and spinal postures while they stood which reduced the load on their lower back.
- Less hip and trunk muscle co-activation .
Both of these factors had a positive effect on the workers and they had less lower back pain afterwards.
In fact, many requested to keep using the sloped surface afterwards.
So there might be something in this!
And while I wont be rushing to try this out for myself, if you do fancy investigating further then the sloped surface they used in the study was the eQuilibrium Almond.
Example Progression Of Treatment Regimens For Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
Treatments need to be individualized. However, as a general rule, lumbar degenerative disc disease treatments start with basic pain control and non-invasive treatments and progress, if needed, to more extensive and/or invasive treatments.
One example of how treatment approaches may progress over time would be:
- Bed rest, or reduced activity, for the first 1 to 2 days after onset of severe pain, combined with anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, and ice and/or heat therapy
- Prescription muscle relaxant medications, as needed, for up to 1 week
- Gentle stretching and aerobic exercise, for at least 3 times a week
- Physical therapy if after 3 weeks there is no improvement in pain
- An epidural injection if after 3 to 6 weeks there is little to no improvement in pain
- Spinal surgery if after 6 to 12 months the pain is severe, ongoing and significantly limits daily activities
Bed rest beyond the first 2 days of sharp, severe pain is not usually advised, because regular movement improves blood circulation and muscle strength and helps the body to heal more quickly than bed rest.
The above is just one example of a typical progression of treatments, and additional therapies or a different type of progression of care is not uncommon based on the patientÃ¢s condition and the treating physicianÃ¢s preferences as well as other variables.
Recommended Reading: Mayo Clinic Low Back Pain Exercises
What Causes A Back Spasm
A mild strain is one of the minor causes of back spasms. However, for some others, back spasms are triggered by more complex conditions such as a herniated or ruptured spinal disc. If you feel like your back muscles are moving or contracting firmly, you should look out for the following common causes.
Read Also: Is Aleve Good For Lower Back Pain
Surgery For Lower Back Pain
Because the vast majority of patients recover from their low back pain with little help from a doctor, the rationale behind choosing surgery must be convincing. Eighty percent of patients with sciatica recover eventually without surgery.
Severe progressive nerve problems, bowel or bladder dysfunction and the cauda equina syndrome make up the most clear-cut indications for back surgery. Back surgery will also be considered if the patients signs and symptoms correlate well with studies such as MRI or electromyogram .
In the most serious cases, when the condition does not respond to other therapies, surgery may well be necessary to relieve pain caused by back problems. Some common procedures include:
- Discectomy, such as a or removal of a portion of a
- a bone graft that promotes the vertebrae to fuse together
- removal of the lamina to create more space and reduce irritation and inflammation
References and useful links
- 1, 2. Excerpted from Low Back Pain Fact Sheet, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health
- Low Back Pain Fact Sheet, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. Reviewed, July 26, 2003.
- Deyo RA, Weinstein JN, Low Back Pain, N Engl J Med, Vol 344, No. 5, Feb 1, 2001, pp 363-370.
Don’t Miss: Advil Or Tylenol For Back Pain
How Does A Lower Back Massage Help Stress
Stress is relieved through lower back massage. The body can be both mentally and physically affected by stress. A common sign of stress in the body is muscle tension. Muscle tension can become painful if not treated.
A lower back massage aims to reduce stress by relieving muscle tightness and psychologically relieving stress.
A lower back massage helps loosen muscles and relieve tension. Muscle tightness and tension is relieved as the temperature of the muscles is increased. Muscle temperature is increased due to an increase in blood circulation. When muscle temperature increases, an improvement in tissue elasticity and flexibility occurs. Improving tissue elasticity and flexibility reduces restriction, relieving tension and tightness in the muscles. Reducing tension and tightness physically reduces stress.
A lower back massage also helps reduce stress psychologically. A lower back massage decreases the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a negative hormone that can increase levels of anxiety and depression as well as stress. During a lower back massage, cortisol is reduced allowing the body to mentally relax and become stress free.