What Are The Symptoms And Signs Sometimes Associated With Low Back Pain
In most cases, lower back pain starts as acute pain that results from an injury. With time, this pain may become chronic. If you manage your pain at the right time, you can help limit the severity of the symptoms linked to both lower left back pain and lower right back pain.
Common symptoms and signs of low back pain include:
- Dull, aching pain within the low back or axial pain
- Pain that extends to your buttocks, legs, and feet
- Pain after prolonged sitting
- Pain that gets better whenever you shift to sitting positions
- Pain that becomes severe after waking up or gets better after moving around
There are many ways you can experience low back pain, although this condition varies from one person to another. Mental and emotional health are great contributors to the severity of low back pain. Financial stress, activity levels, and strenuous exercises can also aggravate your lower back pain.
One Back Pain Treatment You Probably Dont Need
Back pain can be incredibly frustrating, and going under the knife may seem like the quickest, easiest fix to bring relief. But the truth is, many people dont need surgery for lower back pain management, Dr. Park says.
If your back pain is musculoskeletal, you will not require surgery, but if its a pinched nerve thats due to a disc herniation or something else, you may need to have surgery, he says. But even in those people, when you go through a six-to-eight-week course of treatment that includes physical therapy and activity modification, 85 to 90 percent of the time, they wont need surgery.
However, if you try the treatments above and dont see any improvement or still feel pain, talk to your doctor about a referral to a pain management specialist, as more specific tests or treatments may be required to get to the bottom of whats going on.
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When To Do These Exercises
Now, of course, this can apply to all low back pain if it seems appropriate, but these recommendations are specifically for acute pain.
If youve watched our videos or followed our blogs, you know that Im going to encourage you to find the root cause of your pain. But in the short term, its really important to be able to treat it, manage it, and move on so that it does not turn into chronic low back pain.
Acute back pain is very easy to treat and can resolve quickly. You want to begin immediately, whether doing things like this yourself and/or seeing a qualified health professional to treat you.
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Is There Anything I Can Do That Will Damage My Post
Your post-operative spine will be very strong and secure after surgery. However, there are some precautions that must be followed to ensure that your spine stays in good condition. Your nurses and physical therapists will review these with you.
In general, quick sharp movements, falls, bending and twisting of the trunk/neck and pushing/pulling of the arms should be avoided. Your nurses and physical therapists will teach you proper body mechanics in order to prevent injury.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lumbar Strain
. Each person’s symptoms may be different. Symptoms may include:
- Sudden lower back pain
- Spasms in the lower back that result in more severe pain
- Lower back feels sore to the touch
Some of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Read Also: How To Relieve A Lower Back Strain
Lower Back Pain Caused By Infection
Infections of the spine are not common, but they do occur. The doctor will ask about the usual signs and symptoms of infection, especially when back pain is accompanied by fever and/or chills. Dialysis patients, IV drug users, and patients who have recently had surgery, trauma, or skin infections are at risk for infections of the spine. Infections of the spine can be caused by a number of agents, most commonly bacteria. Doctors will first test for the presence of bacteria, then give antibiotics.
Low Back Pain Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with a specific cause of low back pain is the first step to getting treatment. If you land in your doctors office hoping for back pain relief, theyll use a variety of diagnostic tools and methods, such as:
A thorough medical history including any recent injuries, other diagnoses, family history of disease, and your job, activities and other lifestyle considerations
Physical exams, which may include manipulating the painful area or reflex or other neurological tests
Electromyography, which measures muscle and nerve function
ImagingX-rays can show bone spurs and damage to bone, while CT scans and MRIs can depict damage to soft tissue like discs or ligaments
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What Can Be Done
If you have plantar fasciitis or bunions, both conditions are treatable. You can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen and ice packs to reduce the pain
You can also get bunion pads to help relieve the pressure on your feet if you have bunions. And with both conditions, wearing proper footwear is essential. Wear supportive shoes with plenty of room in the toe area. In some cases, we may also need to do surgery to remove bunions.
You can also get custom orthotics to wear in your shoes. These inserts are custom-made to uniquely fit your feet and help you to maintain better posture, alleviate pain, and restore your balance.
If youre having lower back pain, it could help to schedule an appointment with one of our Run Doctor specialists. Contact the Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine providers or request an appointment online.
Lumbar Side Glide In Standing
If the press up with hips off center failed to offer significant relief or centralize your symptoms, you should then try the lumbar side glide exercise.
This exercise is done standing about a foot from a wall with your painful side away from the wall. Lean your shoulder against the wall with your elbow tucked into your ribs, and slowly push your pelvis underneath your ribcage.
Perform 10 repetitions of the side glide, and watch for changes in your pain. If your pain continues or fails to centralize, try the next exercise: the lumbar flexion rotation stretch.
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What Is The Outlook For People With Lower Back Pain
The outlook depends on the cause of pain. Most people with back strains and sprains recover and do not have long-term health issues. But many people will have another episode within a year.
Some people have chronic back pain that doesnt get better after several weeks. Older people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may have symptoms that get worse over time. Surgery and other treatments are effective at helping people with a range of injuries and conditions live pain-free.
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.
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Look Into Getting A New Mattress
How old is your bed? You may be surprised to learn that the average life span of a mattress is less than 10 years. Theres no hard-and-fast rule, says Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the division of pain medicine at Stanford University, but if your mattress is sagging significantly or is more than six to eight years old, Id think about getting a new one.
Something else to consider: A firm mattress may not do your back any favors, says Carmen R. Green, MD, a physician at the University of Michigan Back & Pain Center. A number of studies over the years suggest that people with lower back pain who sleep on medium-firm mattresses do better than those with firm beds, she says.
Common Causes Of Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back painis usually age-related, but can also result from a prior injury. The mostcommon causes include:
- Arthritis of the spinethe gradual thinning of the cartilage inside the spine
- Spinal stenosisnarrowing of the spinal canal that may lead to nerve pain
- Disc problems, such as a herniated or bulging disc
- Myofascial pain syndromeunexplained muscle pain and tenderness
In some cases, its difficult to pinpoint the cause of chronic back pain.If your doctor has exhausted all diagnostic options, its time to seek asecond opinion from a back pain specialist, recommends Nava. Itsimportant not to make rushed decisions or undergo extensive medicalprocedures until the origin of the pain is found. Not only may they nothelp they could make the pain worse, warns Nava.
If the source of the pain is not known or cant be treated, your bestoption may be to work with your doctor on reducing the flare-ups and makingthe pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments.
Back Pain Causes and Treatments Webinar | Stephanie Van, M.D.
Chronic back pain is a persistent source of discomfort for many adults. In this webinar, our expert Stephanie Van, M.D., discusses common causes of back pain along with strategies for relief.
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What Causes Low Back Pain
There are many causes of low back pain. The most common is muscle spasms resulting from overactivity. Most acute low back pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. However, some low back pain originates in the spine and may be more persistent. The facet joints, lumbar discs and sacroiliac joint are common spinal sources of low back pain.
The lumbar facets are often a source of low back pain in middle-aged to elderly patients or those following trauma. The pain is more often felt in the lower back and often made worse with changing position and other movements. The pain may spread to the back of the thigh but usually does not go down to the feet. There may or may not be signs of facet arthritis on imaging . At the Emory Pain Center we have very effective methods for treating pain that comes from the lumbar facet.
The sacroiliac joint is the largest joint in your body. It is supported by muscles and ligaments which also may be a source of low back pain. It is also a source of hip pain. Sitting or standing for a long time tends to aggravate pain from the sacroiliac joint. There are minimally invasive treatments performed in conjunction with physical therapy that are very helpful in relieving pain from the sacroiliac joint.
How Can I Sit With Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be debilitating. If you’re in constant pain, you may have trouble concentrating, feel anxious, and enjoy fewer things.Many jobs require hours of sitting and, therefore, if you have lower back pain and can’t exercise, it may worsen. Sitting differently may ease lower back muscles and nerves.You may be able to relieve back pain in various situations by being keen on your sitting angles. Your back and knees should be perpendicular to the ground and you should avoid slouching.
About Dr. Sean Ormond
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How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, tests for low back pain may include:
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest and pain relievers. Back pain that doesnt go away may be a sign of a more serious condition.
See your provider if you have:
- Pain that doesnt get better after about a week of at-home care.
- Tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in your buttocks or legs.
- Severe pain or muscle spasms that interfere with your normal activities.
- Fever, weight loss, bowel or bladder problems or other unexplained symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Millions of people live with low back pain. Stiffness, pain and limited movement can have a major impact on quality of life. But you may be able to avoid lower back pain by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. Talk to your provider if back pain doesnt go away or if youre unable to do the activities you enjoy. Several treatments can relieve pain, help you move better and get more out of life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/18/2021.
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Other Treatment Options For A Bulging Disc L4/l5
Very rarely, surgery is required for a bulging disc. This intervention is reserved for those who have tried everything else and are still suffering.
Its important to exhaust all non-surgical methods first, as you cant reverse a surgery and the results from surgery are often underwhelming. Occasionally, surgery can make someone worse which is obviously devastating to hear about.
Another option is an injection, which can give pain relief down the course of the sciatic nerve. From my experience, these have very underwhelming results for most people. However, they can occasionally be effective.
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Overcoming Back Pain Starts With Understanding It
There are many types of back injuries, and everyone is a little different. So, unfortunately, theres no one-size-fits-all approach to relieving back pain. But, one thing thats true for everyone is that its not usually enough just to treat back pain symptoms. You have to have a deeper understanding of what contributes to low back pain to get long-term relief.
Back pain can cause a lot of fear and worry. But, suppose you understand why your back hurts, whats contributing to it, how to identify a problem before it gets worse and how to keep it under control. Imagine truly having power over your back pain isnt that what we all really want?
Lets review five universal truths that may help you understand why your back behaves the way it does so you can take control of your back health.
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Keep Moving Keep Stretching
Scared to get back to your exercise routine? It makes sense. After all, you want to be careful and avoid things thatâll make you feel worse. But did you know that your chronic back pain will improve if you get moving? Exercise keeps your muscles strong and prevents spasms.
Studies show that people who stay active despite low back pain are more flexible than those who play it safe and stay in bed for a week. Exercises that both strengthen and stretch your body help the most. In addition to walking, you might want to swim, ride a stationary bike, or try low-impact aerobics.
Also, research shows that yoga and stretching can ease pain and improve back movement. Scientists divided 228 people whoâd had moderate pain for at least 3 months into three groups. Two groups took a 75-minute yoga or stretching class once a week for 12 weeks. The third group got a book of exercises and lifestyle changes they could make to ease their discomfort.
After 3 months, those who did yoga or intensive stretching fared better than those who didnât. A full 6 months later, they took less medicine for their back pain. They also said their pain was better or completely gone during follow-up appointments.
While exercise is one of the best things you can do to relieve back pain, it shouldnât hurt or make your pain worse. If so, check in with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure youâre doing the right exercise for you.