Lower Back Pain Causes
Nonspecific low back pain means that the pain is not due to any specific or underlying disease that can be found. It is thought that in some cases the cause may be an over-stretch of a ligament or muscle. In other cases the cause may be a minor problem with a disc between two spinal bones , or a minor problem with a small facet joint between two vertebrae. There may be other minor problems in the structures and tissues of the lower back that result in pain. However, these causes of the pain are impossible to prove by tests. Therefore, it is usually impossible for a doctor to say exactly where the pain is coming from, or exactly what is causing the pain.
To some people, not knowing the exact cause of the pain is unsettling. However, looked at another way, many people find it reassuring to know that the diagnosis is nonspecific back pain which means there is no serious problem or disease of the back or spine.
When To See A Doctor
People can often treat back pain with home remedies and some patience. However, a person should speak with a healthcare professional about chronic or severe back pain.
A healthcare professional may recommend physical therapy, medication, or other treatments. People with existing health conditions or who take regular medications should speak with a medical professional before trying herbal medications or supplements.
Can This Injury Or Condition Be Prevented
As experts in restoring and improving mobility and movement in people’s lives, physical therapists play an important role not only in treating persistent or recurrent low back pain, but also in preventing it and reducing your risk of having it come back.
Physical therapists can teach you how to use the following strategies to prevent back pain:
- Use good body positioning at work, home, or during leisure activities.
- Keep the load close to your body during lifting.
- Ask for help before lifting heavy objects.
- Maintain a regular physical fitness regimenstaying active can help to prevent injuries.
There is evolving evidence suggesting that the best strategy in preventing disability and care-seeking for low back pain is simply understanding what we are learning about the topic of pain. To learn more, read more about Pain.
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Stretch #2 Prayer Stretch
Starting with prayer stretch is a great way to gauge your range of motion, pain sensation, and still get benefits of a stretch. It is important when dealing with low back pain to move slowly and purposefully to avoid positions and movements that reproduce symptoms dramatically.
For this exercise you will want to start out on your hands and knees with your eyes looking down at the floor. A straight line from your glutes to the top of your head for proper spinal alignment.
Once in that position, take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly releasing the air as you sit your hips back on your heels. The lower you can get the better, drop your chest and head down as you fully exhale and hold the position for 30 seconds.
This stretch targets the low back specifically but also helps get the pelvis into a more favorable position to stretch the back muscles entirely in a safe manner. Repeat this stretch and attempt to get lower each time until your hips can comfortably sit on your heels. This is a great stretch to start or end the day.
Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
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How Effective Are Conservative Treatments In Chronic Low Back Pain
That exercise and intensive multidisciplinary pain treatment programmes are effective for chronic low back pain is supported by strong evidence. Some evidence supports the effectiveness of behaviour therapy, analgesics, antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and back schools and spinal manipulation. No evidence supports using other interventions . For most effective treatments, the effects are usually only small and short term. Unfortunately, many commonly used interventions lack sufficient evidence for clinically relevant long term effects.4
Injections And Other Procedures
If you have severe sciatica, your doctor may suggest an epidural injection. Epidural injections contain a local anaesthetic and steroid to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Theyre only recommended for sciatica and not non-specific lower back pain.
If your back pain is chronic and other treatments havent helped, your doctor may suggest a procedure called radiofrequency denervation. Its only suitable for certain types of back pain. Your doctor will refer you to a specialist to assess whether it would help you.
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Can Further Bouts Of Back Pain Be Prevented
Evidence suggests that the best way to prevent bouts of low back pain is simply to keep active and to exercise regularly. This means general fitness exercise such as walking, running, swimming, etc. There is no firm evidence to say that any particular back strengthening exercises are more useful to prevent back pain than simply keeping fit and active. It is also sensible to be back-aware. For example, do not lift objects when you are in an awkward twisting posture.
Diagnosis Of Back Pain
Regardless of what type of doctor you see, there are some things you can expect your doctor to do during your visit. Your doctor first will ask you a number of questions, the most common of which are listed as follows:
- What are your symptomsthat is, what aches or pains do you have?
- Exactly where is the pain?
- Where is the pain the most severe?
- When did the pain begin?
- How long have you had it?
- Did something specific cause your back pain, such as an accident or injury?
- What home treatments have you used?
- Were you under any additional stress when the pain began?
- Do you have any other health problems?
- What kind of work do you do?
- In what types of recreational activities do you participate?
Think about these ahead of time so you can answer them easily. You also may have questions youd like to ask the doctor. As you think of questions at home, jot them down and take them to the appointment.
Next, your doctor will give you a physical exam. During the exam, the doctor may perform any of the following: observe your muscles and joints ask you to sit and lie down ask you to move your back in different positions observe and feel the area of most pain and/or check to see if other areas of your body are tender or painful If the doctor can identify the likely cause of your back pain at this point, no further tests will be needed.
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What Is Back Pain
Back pain refers to pain that you may feel in your back or spine. It is a very common problem: 1 in 6 Australians report having back problems, and 4 out of 5 experience it sometime in their life. While both men and women report that they experience back problems, it is more commonly reported by people 25 years and older.
Back pain can be grouped into different categories. Lower back pain refers to pain felt in the lower part of the spine . Back problems can also affect the upper back , the neck as well as the tailbone .
People experience back pain in different ways. Some people say it feels like a sharp pain other people report aches or spasms. You may feel stiff, or find it hard to turn or bend in certain directions. In some cases, such as sciatica, pain can travel down one or both your legs.
Back pain can impact you physically and mentally. People suffering from back pain may feel irritable or short-tempered. They may worry about whether the pain will control their life and may experience feelings of helplessness.
When Is Surgery A Good Idea For Back Pain
These red flags can be indicators for surgery, if theyre found to berelated to your spine condition:
- New or progressing bowel/bladder issues
- Weakness in limbs
- Gait and balance problems
- Evidence of increased reflexes
Surgery can also be an option for chronic back pain if there is a knowncause confirmed by imaging and if other treatments didnt help. Getopinions from at least two surgeons, suggests Nava, as pain can stillcome back after the surgery.
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Urgent Advice: Ask For An Urgent Gp Appointment Or Get Help From 111 If:
You have back pain and:
- a high temperature
- you’ve lost weight without trying to
- there’s a lump or swelling in your back or your back has changed shape
- the pain does not improve after resting or is worse at night
- the pain is made worse when sneezing, coughing or pooing
- the pain is coming from the top of your back , rather than your lower back
Can I Prevent Lower Back Pain
You cant prevent lower back pain that results from disease or structural problems in the spine. But you can avoid injuries that cause back pain.
To reduce your risk of a back injury, you should:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts pressure on vertebrae and disks.
- Strengthen your abdominal muscles: Pilates and other exercise programs strengthen core muscles that support the spine.
- Lift the right way: To avoid injuries, lift with your legs . Hold heavy items close to your body. Try not to twist your torso while youre lifting.
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Can Back Pain Lead To Complications
The good news is that most people recover from back pain within a few weeks.1 See your doctor if you experience additional symptoms, such as:
- loss of bowel and/or bladder control
- severe pain that gets worse instead of better over time
- problems with passing urine or bowel movements
- numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation in your legs, back or elsewhere
- unexplained weight loss
- back redness or swelling
For some people, back pain becomes an ongoing problem. Around 1 in every 2 people who experience back pain will experience it again, and for 1 in 5 people, back pain may last beyond 8 to 12 weeks. Possible complications that result from persistent, long-term back pain include:
- dependence on strong pain medicines, such as opioids
- reduced quality of life
- more difficulty finding work and keeping active
See your healthcare professional if your back pain is unresolved and limits your movement and activities. A health care professional can help you find ways to manage your pain and regain a better quality of life.
General Remedies For Low Back Pain In Older Adults
Guidelines for treating low back pain in older adults take into consideration the increased potential for complications. Recommendations primarily center on pain management and controlled, progressive, and consistent exercise. Adequate activity also helps prevent unexpected outcomes, such as pressure sores from excessive bed rest or psychological distress related to limited daily activities and a reduction in endorphin production. On days that pain is severe and exercise seems impossible, just gently stretching is far superior to bed rest.
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What Is The Treatment For Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain
Initial treatment is similar to sudden-onset attacks. That is, aim to keep as active as possible. Also, painkillers can help. In addition to the painkillers listed above, your doctor may advise a course of an antidepressant medicine in the tricyclic group – for example, amitriptyline. Tricyclic antidepressants have other actions separate to their action on depression. They are used in a variety of painful conditions, including back pain.
Also, a national guideline , referenced below) recommends one or more of the following treatments should be considered. Each of these treatments has some evidence from research trials to suggest that they will help to ease symptoms in some people :
- Structured exercise programme. This means a programme of exercise supervised by a professional such as a physiotherapist. This is likely to be in a group setting. Exercises may include aerobic activity, movement instruction, muscle strengthening, posture control and stretching. It typically consists of up to eight supervised sessions over 8-12 weeks with encouragement to keep on doing the exercises at home between sessions.
- Manual therapy. Typically this includes several sessions of massage, spinal mobilisation and/or spinal manipulation. With spinal mobilisation the therapist moves the joints of the spine around in their normal movement range. In spinal manipulation, the therapist moves joints beyond the usual range of movement.
- A course of acupuncture. It is not clear how this may work.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Serious Problem
Very rarely back pain or pain that travels down the leg is a sign of a serious problem.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention:
- difficulty controlling or passing urine
- loss of control of your bowels
- numbness around your back passage or your genitals
- serious weakness in your legs so you find standing really difficult
- severe and ongoing back pain that gets worse over several weeks.
The above symptoms could potentially be linked to a rare but serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.
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What Causes Back Pain
There are many common causes of back pain, including muscle deconditioning, improper posture, muscle overuse, injury, aging and genetics. And in most cases, chronic back pain isnt caused by a single event. Its most likely a combination of many causes that contribute to the pain.
You might not know the exact cause of your back pain, and thats okay! It’s not necessary to diagnose the cause of back pain in order to treat it. Home remedies and other treatments for back pain can effectively relieve your pain regardless of the cause.
Strengthen Your Back With Exercise
Exercise regularly to maintain stability, range of motion and a heathy weight. Well talk about targeted back exercise in just a bit, but its important to know that exercise of any type can help you build muscle strength.
Many people with chronic back pain see improvement with physical activity. If you sit most of the time at your job, be sure to get up every hour and move around. If your old go-to exercises arent as enjoyable because they make your back hurt, explore alternatives.
Exercises that are soft on your joints, like water aerobics and yoga, are popular exercises for people with back pain. Look for low-impact exercises offered at your local community center or gym. Your local public school may also offer open swim times or other community classes.
How Common Is Lower Back Pain
Around four out of five people have lower back pain at some point in their lives. Its one of the most common reasons people visit healthcare providers.
Some people are more likely to have lower back pain than others. Risk factors for lower back pain include:
- Age: People over 30 have more back pain. Disks wear away with age. As the disks weaken and wear down, pain and stiffness can result.
- Weight: People have overweight/obesity or carry extra weight are more likely to have back pain. Excess weight puts pressure on joints and disks.
- Overall health: Weakened abdominal muscles cant support the spine, which can lead to back strains and sprains. People who smoke, drink alcohol excessively or live a sedentary lifestyle have a higher risk of back pain.
- Occupation and lifestyle: Jobs and activities that require heavy lifting or bending can increase the risk of a back injury.
- Structural problems: Severe back pain can result from conditions, such as scoliosis, that change spine alignment.
- Disease: People who have a family history of osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer and other disease have a higher risk of low back pain.
- Mental health: Back pain can result from depression and anxiety.
Improve Mobility And Flexibility
Limitations in range of motion of a joint can determine how much impact goes through our spine. Stiff joints are less able to absorb the impact of our daily activities. This leads to more force being transfered to your lower back throughout your day. Limititations in your range of motion also cause compensations that lead to impact on joints that werent meant to take such a loadlike our low back. Overtime this leads to your low back pain coming back.
It can be hard knowing when and where to mobilize. The most common areas of limitations in clients with lower back pain are the ankle, hip, and middle back. If your body is on the stiff side, incorporating mobilization exercises into your daily routine can help limit impact on your lower back.
Mid Back Mobility
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