Some Classic Covid Symptoms Are Barely Being Seen With Omicron Infections
Along with cough and fever, doctors are warning that loss of taste and smell are not all that common with the Omicron variant. Prior research has suggested that nearly 48 percent patients with the original strain of COVID had loss of smell and 41 percent had loss of taste. But a small analysis of an Omicron outbreak among vaccinated people in Norway found that only 23 percent reported loss of taste and just 12 percent reported loss of smell.
And some experts say the “new” symptoms of Omicron like back pain might just be more noticeable now that these classic COVID signs are less prevalent. Scott Roberts, MD, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at the Yale School of Medicine, told NPR that it’s possible doctors and patients are just paying more attention to these subtler signs than they did with earlier variants. “A lot of this is probably magnifying these symptoms under a microscope instead of clear changes,” he said.
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.
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.
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Lower Back Pain And Cancer
Cancer involving the lumbar spine is not a common cause of back pain. However, in people who have a prior history of cancer, for example, in the breast or prostate, or who have weight loss or loss of appetite along with back pain cancer needs to be considered.
Night pain can be a clue to cancer in the spine. A benign tumor called osteoid osteoma, which most often affects young people, causes pain that tends to respond well to aspirin. Multiple myeloma is a malignancy that occurs when the plasma cells in the bone marrow begin spreading uncontrollably. It is most common in older people, and can cause pain in many parts of the spine. When tumor or infection are suspected, blood tests may be ordered, including a CBC , sedimentation rate , and protein electrophoresis .
The Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain Are A Strain Or Sprain
Whether you notice it or not, your lumbar spine gets put to work throughout the entire day.
Amid all of this work and motion, a lower back sprain or strain can result from an acute injury, such as one experienced while falling, lifting something too heavy or playing sports. A sprain or strain can also develop over time due to repetitive movements or poor posture.
“Straining a muscle or spraining a ligament are the most common causes of lower back pain,” says Dr. Palmer. “While they can be serious, these common causes of lower back pain aren’t long-lasting taking anywhere from a few days to heal or, at most, a few months.”
Your doctor can help you determine the particular course of self-care that can help heal your lower back pain.
“The treatment for a pulled back muscle or strained back ligament is fairly simple and can include pain and anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, ice to help reduce inflammation, heat to promote healing, and avoiding strenuous activity until the pain recedes,” explains Dr. Palmer. “The best course of care will depend on the severity of your injury as well as your overall core and lower body strength.”
If your lower back pain persists despite treatment, it may be time to consider other causes of lower back pain.
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Bulging Or Ruptured Disc
Intervertebral discs are located between the bones of the spine and serve as shock-absorbing cushions. The discs can break down over time due to aging, trauma, obesity, repetitive stress, and smoking. When this happens, a disc can start to protrude outward, which is known as a bulging or slipped disc.
The disc can also tear, resulting in a ruptured disc. When this happens, the inner part of the disc will push out and compress nearby nerves, triggering nerve pain.
A ruptured disc in the low back can cause sharp pain that may move down into the buttocks, groin, and leg. A ruptured disc in the neck can cause pain that moves down an arm. It may also cause muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling.
This Could Be Because Omicron Affects The Body Differently
In December, Angelique Coetzee, a South African doctor and one of the first to report on Omicron, told MSNBC that she believes this symptom may be a result of the new variant attacking the musculoskeletal system to start with, impacting muscles, bones, joints, and ligaments with aches and pains. “People will tell us they went to bed last night they felt warm and cold during the night, body aches and pain, chest pain, or backache and fatiguethat’s Omicron,” she told the news outlet.
Top White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, also touched on how differently the new variant is manifesting in the body. A number of new studies have shown that the virus of Omicron spreads “very poorly in the lungs” and “has less pathogenicity in the lung,” he said during a Jan. 5 press briefing.
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When To See A Doctor
Even though it’s common, most cases of back pain tend to clear up without the need to see a doctor.
You should see your doctor if your pain:
- is really bad
- lasts for a long time
- stops you from working or doing the things you enjoy
- affects your everyday activities
- gets worse.
You should also see your doctor if you have any changes in sexual function, for example, being unable to get an erection.
If the pain is causing you significant problems and stops you from getting on with normal life and work activities, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions.
These questions will help predict how likely it is that you need further help with your back pain. If you do need further support, your doctor will make a referral to physiotherapy so that you can have treatment early, to help with the pain and return to normal activities.
Its natural to want to know what has caused your back pain. However, specialists may not be able to tell you for certain what has caused your back pain, even after carefully assessing you.
If youre concerned about the cause of your back pain, it can help to talk openly about any worries with a healthcare professional, as reducing any fear may help speed up your recovery.
Reduce Your Risk Of Gallstones
There is no way to prevent gallstones, but you can take steps to reduce the likelihood that you will form gallstones that will cause symptoms.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Take care not to lose weight quickly through dieting and then gain it back.
- Eat regular, balanced meals that include whole grains, fiber and calcium. Limit foods high in cholesterol.
- Exercise regularly, in order to maintain a healthy weight and keep cholesterol levels down.
Worried that you are experiencing gall bladder symptoms? OSF OnCall can provide guidance as to the best course of action.
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What Type Of Doctor Should I See For Back Pain
This depends on your condition or symptoms. If you have no obvious injury that would explain your pain, you may want to start by seeing a . This is a specialist in physical medicine who can diagnose back pain and determine whether nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy may help. Depending on those findings, a physiatrist may also refer you to a , doctor or other type of back specialist, , for additional discussion.
Top 7 Most Serious Causes Of Back Pain
Approximately 80% of adults in the United States will suffer from back pain at some point. Fortunately, most of the time that pain is due to a straightforward problem such as a herniated disc or degenerative disease in the spine. These problems are bothersome, and can even be dangerous if too much time is allowed to pass, but they are not considered a medical emergency.
On the other hand, anytime back pain is associated with weakness or loss of bladder or bowel control, it should be considered an emergency that requires immediate treatment. These symptoms can suggest compression of the spinal cord or cauda equina. Moreover, sometimes back pain can be a sign of more significant trouble. Here are some of the most serious causes of back pain that both doctors and patients must be careful not to miss.
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What Should I Know About Back Pain
Back pain is a very common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.
The good news is that in most cases it isnt a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament.
As far as possible, its best to continue with your normal everyday activities as soon as you can and to keep moving.
Being active and exercising wont make your back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help you get better. Taking painkillers can help you do this.
Age And Gender Issues
Age and gender are important factors to consider when diagnosing low back pain. In a young patient, a benign tumor of the spine called an osteoid osteoma may be the culprit. Inflammatory bowel disease in young people can be connected with spondylitis and sacroiliitis . Low back pain from disc disease or spinal degeneration is more likely to occur as people get older. Conditions such as abdominal aneurysm or multiple myeloma are also considered in older individuals.
Osteoporosis and fibromyalgia are much more common triggers of back pain in women than in men. Osteoporosis is a progressive decrease in bone density that leaves the bones brittle, porous and prone to fracture. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips.
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When Back Pain Requires Immediate Care
A condition called malignant spinal cord compression may develop in some people who have lung cancer that spreads to the spine. These symptoms include worsening back pain, weakness in the legs, and sometimes loss of urinary or bowel control. This is a medical emergency, and immediate treatment is needed to prevent complications such as paralysis.
Signs That Its Time To Call A Doctor For Your Back Pain
Most people have experienced back pain at some point in their lives. It’s actually the leading cause of disability worldwide and the most common reason people call out of work. Back pain can come in many different forms, ranging from a dull ache that lasts only a few days to severe pain that lasts for weeks.
Depending on the intensity of the pain, there are many treatments you can try at home to help. But how do you know when it’s time to stop home remedies and see a physician?
If any of the following applies to your back pain, then it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
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What Are Some Other Causes Of Lower Back Pain
The shape of your spine, and well as spinal diseases, are other culprits in lower back pain. Depending on a range of factors, your doctor may look for:
Abnormal spinal curvature. A normal spine resembles a gently curved letter S when seen from the side. Abnormal curves include:
- Lordosis, in which the spine curves too far inward at the lower back
- Kyphosis, in which the spine is abnormally rounded in the upper back
- Scoliosis, in which the spine curves from side to side, often in a C shape
Normal and abnormal curves of the spineArthritis. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, many of which can cause lower back pain. The most common types include osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Cauda equina syndrome . Compression of the bundle of nerves that forms below the spinal cord in the lumbar spine. It is a rare but serious disorder that requires immediate medical attention and possibly emergency surgery. CES got its name from the fact that the fanned-out bundle of nerves resembles the base of a horses tail.
Discitis or osteomyelitis.Both infections of discs and bone can cause severe pain and require prompt medical attention.
Spinal tumors. When cells divide and multiply unchecked, the result is a tumor. Both benign and malignant tumors can cause lower back pain. They can either originate in the spine or metastasize there, meaning theyve spread from somewhere else in the body.
Can Sperm Cause Back Pain
Epididymitis is the swelling of the epididymis, a duct that stores and transports sperm from the testicles to the vas deferens. The swelling of the epididymis can cause pain in the scrotum and testicles that sometimes radiates to other areas of the body, including the groin area and the lower back or sides.
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How Lung Cancer And Back Pain Are Linked
When we think about back pain, usually the last thing that comes to mind is cancer. Instead, we connect it to things like an injury, such as a muscle strain or ruptured disc. Or we may think it’s because of a degenerative disease, like arthritis or osteoporosis.
Back pain caused by lung cancer shares some common features with many of these disorders. Yet it also has distinct differences. These may relate to how and where the cancer causes pain, both directly and indirectly.
Some possible ways in which lung cancer can produce back pain include:
- A tumor can place direct pressure on the structure of the back, most often in the mid to upper back rather than lower back.
- A tumor can irritate the nerves that serve the lining of the lungs and chest wall. This may trigger a sharp and sometimes chronic nerve pain.
- Cancer spread from the lungs to the spine and bones happens in some 30% of people with lung cancer.
- Spread of cancer to the adrenal glands occurs in 40% of people with lung cancer, and can cause pain right above the kidney.
Healthcare providers may overlook a possible lung cancer as the cause of back pain, especially in people who have never smoked. However, at the current time, most of the people who develop lung cancer are non-smokers, either never smokers or former smokers. Lung cancer cases are rising in young women and men who have never smoked.
When To Seek Medical Care For Back Pain
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has identified 11 red flagsthat doctors look for when evaluating a person with back pain. The focus of these red flags is to detect fractures , infections, or tumors of the spine. Presence of any of the following red flags associated with low back pain should prompt a visit to your doctor as soon as possible for complete evaluation.
- Recent significant trauma such as a fall from a height, motor vehicle accident, or similar incident
- Recent mild trauma in those older than 50 years of age: A fall down a few steps or slipping and landing on the buttocks may be considered mild trauma.
- History of prolonged steroid use: People with asthma, COPD, and rheumatic disorders, for example, may be given this type of medication.
- Anyone with a history of osteoporosis: An elderly woman with a history of a hip fracture, for example, would be considered high risk.
- Any person older than 70 years of age: There is an increased incidence of cancer, infections, and abdominal causes of the pain.
- Prior history of cancer
- Unexplained weight loss
The presence of any of the above would justify a visit to a hospital’s emergency department, particularly if your family doctor is unable to evaluate you within the next 24 hours.
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