How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
Steroid Injections For Severe Back Pain
Cortisone injections are usually a temporary solution. While they can be effective at reducing inflammation and providing short-term relief, its recommended that patients try less invasive options first.
Common sprains and strains arent candidates for steroid injections. Rather, these are reserved for more extreme cases of chronic back pain like debilitating nerve pain and ruptured discs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
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Dont Slump Over Your Desk
When sitting in an office chair, use the same good posture techniques you use when standing. Its critical to keep good posture and support your back when sitting down, especially if you do it for several hours per day. Choose a quality chair that provides firm support for your lower back, and make sure your knees are a little higher than your hips when you sit.
Lower Back Pain: How Exercise Helps
You may feel like resting, but moving is good for your back. Exercises for lower back pain can strengthen back, stomach, and leg muscles. They help support your spine, relieving back pain. Always ask your health care professional before doing any exercise for back pain. Depending on the cause and intensity of your pain, some exercises may not be recommended and can be harmful.
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What Can Cause Lower Back Pain
Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:
- Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
- Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.
- Sprains , strains , and spasms
- Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
- Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
- Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.
Nerve and spinal cord problems
Ways To Manage Low Back Pain At Home
Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments. Studies show that eight in 10 Americans have back pain at some point in their lives, usually in the lower back.
Sudden or severe back pain should be checked by a doctor or a physical therapist. That also goes for pain that wonât go away.
But sometimes you can treat nagging pain and discomfort on your own.
Wilson Ray, MD, chief of spine surgery for the Department of Neurological Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says home remedies â tend to be better when they’re combined than alone.â
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Tips For Easing Back Pain
Use these self-care tips to ease your back ache and pain associated with arthritis.
1. Relief is Possible
2. Get Wet
3. Move and Strengthen It
4. Find Your Zen
5. Cinch It In
6. Trim It Down
7. Visit China
8. Manipulate It
9. Apply Pressure
10. Put It Together
11. Medicate It
Complementary Alternative Emerging Treatments
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered current standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
. PRP treatments use a small sample of your own blood that has concentrated amounts of blood building blocks known as platelets. Your doctor then injects the PRP directly into a damaged disc. The theory is that PRP injections use your own healing system to accelerate improvement of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints.
PRP treatment has a longer track record in knee osteoarthritis, but a recent review article in the Journal of Spine Surgery suggests it may have a useful role for back pain, too. PRP needs a lot more research before it can be considered a proven technique.
In this emerging treatment, your doctor injects stem cells harvested from your hip into the intervertebral disc or discs causing your pain. Doing so may lessen pain and the degenerative effects of aging, though, like PRP, more research is needed before stem cells for lower back pain could eventually become the standard of care.
. Your doctor probably doesnt perform acupuncture , but may support you trying it as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. This may stimulate the release of your natural pain-killing chemicals.
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Being Mindful Of Your Movements
How many times has someone told you to lift with your legs, not with your back? Though its almost become cliché, its good advice. Your lower back supports a lot of the function of your body. Even if you lift using correct posture most of the time, a few haphazard hoists can be all it takes to cause long-term pain.
For example, parents with small children will lean over and pick them up out of a crib several times a day. Once or twice might not put much strain on the back, but repeating this movement hundreds or thousands of times over the years can cause serious discomfort. Mind those movements today, and your back will be more forgiving in the future.
Ways To Relieve Back Pain Naturally
There are a wide variety of natural remedies to soothe your back, which can help reduce the intake of medications or provide an added benefit to your existing medical treatment.
Take a look at these natural pain-relieving strategies and find out what works best for you:
Read on to learn more about effective pain-relieving strategies for chronic back pain from natural methods.
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Pay Attention To Posture
Slouching and other awkward postures can strain your back. Whether you sit or stand at work, reduce stress on the back by remaining in a neutral, S curve back posture. You may need to change the height of your workstation. Adjust your chair so your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor. You can also prevent extra pressure on the lower back by removing your wallet or cellphone from your back pocket while sitting.
How Does Acupuncture Work To Relieve Back Pain
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine based on the idea that opposing forces yin and yang need to be balanced. When there’s an imbalance in your body’s energy flow, you may experience pain, illness and reduced function. Acupuncture, as a medical treatment, addresses this type of imbalance, restoring the normal flow of energy.
During an acupuncture procedure, the practitioner inserts needles at specific points on the body. This stimulates the central nervous system, prompting the release of pain-relieving chemicals. Traditional acupuncture also rewires the brain by releasing neurotransmitters, which are hormones that carry messages throughout the nervous system. Some neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, block the nerve cells responsible for receiving pain signals. When these cells are blocked, pain signals can’t get through, relieving discomfort.
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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.
Aquatic Therapy And Whirlpools
Physical therapists often recommend aquatic therapy including exercises done in warm, therapeutic pools for back pain. The buoyancy of the water helps alleviate strain on the joints to encourage strengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles. Even floating in warm water can help relax muscles and release tension as well as increase circulation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. With home whirlpool baths, try aiming the jets directly at your sore spots for a soothing underwater massage.
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Youre Having Problems With Your Bowels Or Urination
If your back pain is paired with a loss of control over your bowels or urination, then its time to seek help immediately at a local emergency room. These symptoms point to cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves in the lower spine have become paralyzed. While rare, this syndrome can be permanently damaging to the nerves if left untreated. If you experience these symptoms, especially accompanied by numbness in the legs, then you may need surgery to decompress the nerves and preserve their overall function.
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.
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Support Your Body In A Warm Pool
The buoyancy of the water lets you enjoy the benefits of exercise with less pain. Exercising in water also helps regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles, relieving pain.14
If you prefer warmer pools, look into water exercise classes and hydrotherapy pools. Water therapy exercises are often done in water that is about 83 degrees to 88 degrees. Hydrotherapy pool temperatures are often more than 90 degrees.
Chiropractic Care For Back Pain
Chiropractic professionals care for the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. If you have back pain due to sciatica, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs or another medical condition, you may be a candidate for spinal manipulation or other chiropractic services.
Spinal manipulation is a conventional therapy that involves having a chiropractor use their hands or a small device to apply controlled pressure to your spine. This chiropractic treatment has been shown to reduce pain and improve function, all without the use of opioid medications. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one study showed that people with back and leg pain reported a reduction in pain after 12 weeks of receiving spinal manipulation and participating in an exercise program. They also reported using less pain medication one year later.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Low Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain. Factors that can increase the risk for low back pain include:
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with advancing age. Loss of bone strength from osteoporosis can lead to fractures, and at the same time, muscle elasticity and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.
Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. Weekend warriorspeople who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all weekare more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise can help maintain the integrity of intervertebral discs.
Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain.
Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis , have a genetic component.
Smoking: It can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.
Backpack overload in children: A backpack overloaded with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the back and cause muscle fatigue.
Avoid High Heels Regularly
If you are one of those who cannot stay away from high heels, keep them for special occasions only. Wearing high heels every day can cause strain on your lower back and spine. Over time, this can lead to pain and other problems. You should also avoid shoes that do not provide enough support. This includes flip-flops, slippers, and other shoes that do not offer much in the way of arch or heel support.
All in all, these are some of the main tips to help you with back pain at work. With these simple and quick tips, you can easily get rid of the pain and lead a healthy life. In fact, you will not only feel better but also save a lot of money on medical bills. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and follow these tips to get rid of back pain at work.
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What Structures Make Up The Back
The lower backwhere most back pain occursincludes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.
Other regions of vertebrate are cervical , thoracic , and sacral and coccygeal segments.
How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, tests for low back pain may include:
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