What Can Cause A Sudden Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is commonly experienced by many people. Sudden lower back pain can be an acute condition, which begins suddenly and may last for varying time periods. Sudden lower back pain is often a result of sudden damage to the joints and supporting structures of the back or may sometimes be related to inner organs. It is important to understand what can cause a sudden pain in lower back to be able to manage it appropriately.
Back Muscles That Cause The Most Back Pain
Back pain is one of the top reasons for missed work and second only to upper-respiratory infections for causing doctor visits.
Most of the time, back muscle pain is diagnosed then treated with little more than a prescription of rest, painkillers and muscle relaxants.
Follow this advice and youre taking one more step down the path to more serious back pain and possibly doctor-recommended back surgery to deal with it.
And its all because youve never been told why you have back muscle pain or how to get lasting relief by treating the cause rather than the symptoms.
That all ends today as we pull back the covers and see exactly what is going on why your back hurts which muscles are behind your back pain and most importantly, what you can do about it .
What Is Spinal Stenosis
- Cervical spinal stenosis, which occurs in the neck
- Thoracic stenosis, which occurs in the mid-back
- Lumbar stenosis, which occurs in the lower back
- Aging: As noted earlier, the spine changes as we age. The ligaments become thicker or the bones and joints get bigger, resulting in a narrower spinal canal.
- Arthritis: Vertebrae, or the bones that form the spine, can begin to compress and wear against the joints that allow it to flex after years of repetitive motion. This can cause the joints to deteriorate, resulting in inflammation or the development of bone spurs, which are bony projections that form on the surface of bones.
- Congenital defect: Some people are born with a small spinal canal. This is the most common type of spinal stenosis found in young people. It might present in teens who play contact sports and experience recurring numbness or weakness in their hands, or what we call stingers, which are pinched nerve injuries.
- Spinal deformities: Spinal conditions such as scoliosis, in which there is a curvature of the spine, or spondylolisthesis, in which a vertebrae moves out of position onto the vertebra below it, can cause the spinal canal to narrow.
Also Check: Can Sitting Cause Lower Back Pain
Low Back Pain Exams And Tests
- Because many different conditions may cause back pain, a thorough medical history will be performed as part of the examination. Some of the questions you are asked may not seem pertinent to you but are very important to your doctor in determining the source of your pain.
- Your doctor will first ask you many questions regarding the onset of the pain. He or she will want to know what makes the pain better or worse. The doctor will ask you questions referring to the red flag symptoms. He or she will ask if you have had the pain before. Your doctor will ask about recent illnesses and associated symptoms such as coughs, fevers, urinary difficulties, or stomach illnesses. In females, the doctor will want to know about vaginal bleeding, cramping, or discharge. Pain from the pelvis, in these cases, is frequently felt in the back.
- Electromyogram or EMG is a test that involves the placement of very small needles into the muscles. Electrical activity is monitored. Its use is usually reserved for more chronic pain and to predict the level of nerve root damage. The test is also able to help the doctor distinguish between nerve root disease and muscle disease.
Herniated Disk In The Upper Back
The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.
Top Symptoms: upper back pain, neck pain, arm weakness, back pain that gets worse when sitting, upper spine pain
Symptoms that always occur with herniated disk in the upper back: upper back pain
Urgency: Primary care doctor
You May Like: Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Preventing Low Back Pain
Steps to lower your risk of back pain as you age include exercising regularly , maintaining a healthy weight, lifting with the legs and not the low back, and optimizing your workstation.
After any period of prolonged inactivity, a regimen of low-impact exercises is recommended. Speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes daily can increase muscle strength and flexibility and protect your low back from injury or strain. Frequent stretching can help loosen muscle tension, strengthen your core muscles, and improve over-all posture for a healthier back.
What Are The Treatments For Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days of rest, you can start to get back to your normal activities. Staying active increases blood flow to the area and helps you heal.
Other treatments for lower back pain depend on the cause. They include:
- Medications: Your provider may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Other medications relax muscles and prevent back spasms.
- Physical therapy : PT can strengthen muscles so they can support your spine. PT also improves flexibility and helps you avoid another injury.
- Hands-on manipulation: Several hands-on treatments can relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve posture and alignment. Depending on the cause of pain, you may need osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. Massage therapy can also help with back pain relief and restore function.
- Injections: Your provider uses a needle to inject medication into the area thats causing pain. Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Some injuries and conditions need surgical repair. There are several types of surgery for low back pain, including many minimally invasive techniques.
Also Check: What Is Back Pain A Sign Of
Treatment For Common Back Pain In Teenagers
Your childs doctor would recommend a treatment regimen based on the diagnosis, which involves a physical examination and, if necessary, an X-ray and CT scan.
- In the case of spinal injuries, medical attention is required. Sometimes, surgery may be needed to correct the broken bones.
- According to a study, physical therapy and manual therapy were found to be effective in treating lower back pain in children. However, certain limitations of the study prevented drawing a definitive conclusion .
- Back pain due to sprains and bruises may subside after rest or activity modification.
- Your childs doctor might prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs if there is unbearable pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy programs might help in reducing back pain.
- Hamstring and abdominal strengthening exercises might help in relieving persistent back pain.
How Is Lumbar Strain Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnosing low back pain may include the following. However, specialized tests aren’t often required.
- X-ray. A diagnostic test that produces images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- CT scan. This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. It shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
- MRI. This test uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures in the body.
- Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into your blood to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity in the bone.
- Electromyogram . A test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.
Recommended Reading: Can Chronic Back Pain Cause High Blood Pressure
Causes Of Chronic Lower Back Pain
Pain is considered chronic once it lasts for more than three months and exceeds the bodys natural healing process. Chronic pain in the low back often involves a disc problem, a joint problem, and/or an irritated nerve root. Common causes include:
Lumbar herniated disc. The jelly-like center of a lumbar disc can break through the tough outer layer and irritate a nearby nerve root. The herniated portion of the disc is full of proteins that cause inflammation when they reach a nerve root, and inflammation, as well as nerve compression, cause nerve root pain. The disc wall is also richly supplied by nerve fibers, and a tear through the wall can cause severe pain.
Degenerative disc disease. At birth, intervertebral discs are full of water and at their healthiest. As people age over time, discs lose hydration and wear down. As the disc loses hydration, it cannot resist forces as well, and transfers force to the disc wall that may develop tears and cause pain or weakening that can lead to a herniation. The disc can also collapse and contribute to stenosis.
Facet joint dysfunction. There are two facet joints behind each disc at each motion segment in the lumbar spine. These joints have cartilage between the bones and are surrounded by a capsular ligament, which is richly innervated by nerves. These joints can be painful by themselves, or in conjunction with disc pain.
Concerned About Your Back Pain Symptoms We Can Help
Most back pain goes away on its own. But if your back pain has been lingering for more than two weeks without improvement, its been coming and going for some time, or if youre experiencing any alarming symptoms, dont delay the care you need. After all, its much easier to take care of yourself when you can move without pain.
Think PNBC may be right for you? Schedule a consultation.
Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain Instantly
Problems With Spinal Discs
A herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc in the spine can cause middle back pain when moving your upper body. The back pain may feel worse when twisting or bending at the waist and may cause neck pain.
The Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy found that injuries to the discs in the cervical spine can cause pain that spreads to the upper thoracic spine. The type of pain in the thoracic area caused by spinal issues is described as severe, intense, debilitating back pain. These injuries can affect nerves that can also cause headaches and other neurological problems.10
Researchers from the University of Maryland report that a herniated thoracic disc can cause intense sharp pain that happens suddenly. However, you may have a herniated disc without back pain. This can happen if the ruptured disc presses on a spinal nerve and this can result in any of the following symptoms:11
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness in one or both legs
- Pain that travels through your body
According to a report in the journal International Surgery, a thoracic disc herniation can also cause chronic abdominal pain. The researchers suggested that it is possible to mistake symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome for thoracic pain that radiates from the middle back.12
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.
Also Check: How To Reduce Lower Back Pain
Understanding The Lower Back
The lower back is also called the lumbosacral area of the back. It is the part of the back between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the legs.
Most of the lower back is made up from muscles that attach to, and surround, the spine. The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The discs between the vertebrae are a combination of a strong fibrous outer layer and a softer, gel-like centre. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible.
Products That May Help:
Get a Standing Desk -standing, even for short periods throughout the day, has been proven to help alleviate or prevent sitting-caused back pain. By standing at your desk you’ll burn extra calories and the variability offered by a sit-to-stand desk will benefit you in more ways than you might think. Our writer, Ryan put together a great guide on buying a standing desk. and is a really good value for money.
Get an Ergonomic Chair – for most of us, sitting is just part of our daily lives and jobs. Even for those with the benefit of a standing desk, it’s still important to make sure that you have a quality chair for the considerable time you still spend sitting.Ergonomic focused chairsoffer lower back or lumbar support which is key in making your sitting time much less painful.
Use an Inversion Table – the only way to get 100% decompression of your spine compared to when you stand is to invert at a 60-degree angle. There is some research supporting the use of inversion tables to get rid of back pain. And besides getting rid of back pain, there are many other benefits reported by users.
Get a Foam Roller – we think foam rollers are a great, cheap option for targeted massage and tissue release. We are a big fan because they come in many shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels that will fit just about any budget. You should do your research though as there is an initial learning curve to overcome.
Sensations That Might Indicate A Medical Emergency
1. Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.2. Radiating pain: This pain “moves” or shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.
3. Sudden weakness in the legs: Limb weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine due to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. However, sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.4. Incontinence: Back pain paired with inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.5. Numbness or pins and needles in the groin or glutes: This is known as saddle anesthesia and is also a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.
If you have leg weakness, incontinence, and numbness together, you might have cauda equina syndrome, a serious illness characterized by spinal cord nerve damage. This is a medical emergency, and patients usually need surgery immediately to decompress the nerves and reduce permanent damage.
Related reading: Get help for back, neck, and leg pain caused by spinal stenosis
Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.