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.
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.
Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
If you have had lower back pain, you are not alone. Back pain is one of most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work. Even school-age children can have back pain.
Back pain can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain. It can begin suddenly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time as we age. Getting too little exercise followed by a strenuous workout also can cause back pain.
There are two types of back pain:
- Acute, or short-term back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks. Most low back pain is acute. It tends to resolve on its own within a few days with self-care and there is no residual loss of function. In some cases a few months are required for the symptoms to disappear.
- Chronic back pain is defined as pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms at one year. Even if pain persists, it does not always mean there is a medically serious underlying cause or one that can be easily identified and treated. In some cases, treatment successfully relieves chronic low back pain, but in other cases pain continues despite medical and surgical treatment.
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Improve Your Posture To Reduce Back Pain
Most of us spend a good part of our day sitting down, which may be more harmful than you realize. You can minimize the impact by maintaining good posture. Correct posture in a chair means having all the bones in your spine lined up neatly, like a stack of perfectly aligned blocks. You should keep your feet flat on the floor and your computer keyboard within easy reach so youre not leaning forward or slumping. This is part of proper office ergonomics.
Many apps and devices exist that can help you enhance your posture. If you work at a computer all day, try the software and app Posture Man Pat. This free app interacts with the webcam on your screen, tracking where your face is relative to your screen. If your posture starts to droop and curve, the app will alert you.
If you are looking to get really tech-savvy, try the Lumo Lift Posture Coach. This wearable device has a sensor that will vibrate when you change your posture from what the posture coach is calibrated to.
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.
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How Can Back Pain Be Prevented
In most cases, you can prevent back pain by making changes to your lifestyle.
Doing exercise helps to keep your back flexible and strong. Exercise improves your posture and helps your muscles to support your spine. Exercises that can help prevent back pain include:
- low-impact aerobic exercise
- strengthening exercises, such as lifting weights, climbing stairs or hiking hills
- stretching exercises, such as Pilates and yoga
Maintaining a good posture is important when you sit at home, in your workplace, or in your car. Try not to slouch, and use equipment that supports your back, such as a lumbar support or footstool if you need.
Keeping a healthy weight is also important. Excess fat can strain your back and lead to back pain, sciatica and inflammation.
Practise safe lifting in your home or workplace. Whenever you pick up a heavy load, squat down, hold the object close to your body, and lift with your legs.
- Quit smoking Smoking increases your chances of developing persistent back pain.
- Relax Learning relaxation techniques and mindfulness can help to reduce stress and muscle tension in your back.
- Avoid high heels wearing high heels can place strain on your back.
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.
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You May Need To See Your Doctor For These Potential Underlying Illnesses
Dont just treat a back spasm as temporary discomfort. It may not merely be muscular in nature as they are often a big warning sign.
There may be something more serious that you are not aware of. This may be what your body could be reacting to.
In cases where treatment does not help, it is possible that you may have a disc issue such and a bulge or herniated disc. It is important to know when you should see a doctor to diagnose any serious injury that may be an underlying cause.
- Herniated Disc
Chronic Conditions That Cause Back Pain
Conditions that can lead to chronic low back pain include spinal stenosis, spondylitis, and fibromyalgia. Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the normal spinal canal through which the spinal cord passes. Spondylitis is chronic inflammation of the spine. Fibromyalgia is a muscle disorder that features chronic muscle pain and tenderness.
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Relieving Your Back Pain
When you are suffering from an ache or struggling to get lower back pain relief, it may seem difficult to take a proactive approach to the matter. However, alleviating such aches may be largely within your control. If you make some simple changes in habit and lifestyle, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. At North Texas Medical Center, we take great pride in helping our community achieve better health. If you are suffering from backache, call us at , or contact us online today.
How Long Does Lower Back Pain Usually Last
Lower back pain can be categorized as acute, subacute or chronic. Acute episodes of lower back pain usually last from a few days to 4 weeks and subacute lower back pain lasts between 4 to 12 weeks. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, about 20 percent of people with acute back pain go on to develop chronic back paindefined as pain that lasts 12 weeks or longer. Even in these cases, there are many different treatment options to help relieve lower back pain symptoms.
When your back is really killing you, you might worry something is seriously wrong. The same goes for back pain that seems unending. The good news is that while back pain is a major inconvenience, it is rarely an urgent medical issue. In fact, most of the time you dont have to treat it. Back pain usually resolves on its own unless you have a major underlying issue.
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Carefully Move To A Bed Or Comfortable Flat Surface To Remain Temporarilyimmobile
That spasm that you have is a nasty but very clear warning sign that you must not continue to move. Your body is literally locking up to guard you against injuring another part of your back that is weakened or injured.
Although this locked up muscle may hurt as it tightens, it is not usually the source of the injury.
By laying down, you can help to stop triggering these muscles and can reduce the intensity and duration of the pain.
You can lie on the floor using cushions and pillows as a support and just be patient. Its better for you to focus on being somewhere calm so you can make yourself the priority.
Remember though that this is only a temporary measure as prolonged immobility could make things worse.
Did your contraction happen while reaching for, or lifting something? Did it happen just out of the blue and during a very simple activity? If so, you should follow this One Simple Rule to help reduce your chances of back spasms.
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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Emotional Effects Of Lower Back Pain
Back pain affects everyone differently. In some situations, back pain can be become chronic, which means it lasts a long time. Some emotional factors may increase the risk of back pain becoming chronic, including:
- believing that physical activity isn’t helpful or having lots of bed rest
- emotional problems such as feeling depressed, anxious or stressed
- a lack of social support from family and friends
- not wanting to play an active role in your treatment
Although you may think your pain is a warning sign to stop you doing certain activities, its important that you keep active to overcome it. If you have any questions about keeping active, talk to your physiotherapist or doctor. They can reassure you that keeping mobile and being positive about managing your back pain are the keys to helping you recover. Exercise will also help to prevent back pain in future.
Diagnosis For Upper Back Pain
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose upper back pain. To get the diagnosis, your doctor may ask you to:
- Answer questions about your health history, symptoms, and physical activities.
- Complete a physical exam.
In some cases, your doctor may also order an:
- X-ray, which uses radiation similar to radio waves that can produce pictures of the inside of the human body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging scan, which uses a magnetic field with radio waves to take pictures of the inside of the human body. It can often show problems that other medical imaging techniques may miss.
A health care provider will interview you to help determine a diagnosis. The provider may also want to order other tests to check for any other potential causes of your upper back pain.
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So What Causes Sciatica
The most common causes of sciatica include:
- Herniated lumbar discs: The rubbery cushions between each of your vertebra can rupture with age or injury, applying pressure to nearby nerves that supply sensation to the legs.
- Degenerative disc disease: As we age, intervertebral discs can lose their shape as they dry out. This can lead to disc herniation and a host of other problems, such as lumbar radiculopathy.
- Spinal stenosis: Arthritis and aging can result in a narrowing of the passageways through which nerves exit the spinal cord. When this happens, nerve impingement may occur.
- Bone spurs: Osteoarthritis may cause an overgrowth of bone on a lumbar vertebra. These bony protrusions can directly apply pressure on the lumbar or sciatic nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis: Slipping or cracking of the vertebrae can compromise the structure of the spine, leading to pinched nerve pain in the legs.
- Piriformis syndrome: This large muscle near the sciatic nerve can tighten from over- or underuse and cause nerve compression.
Take Some Deep Breaths
Deep breathing may help with gas pain. But this only tends to work if it’s something you practice regularly.
Since deep breathing from the diaphragm is so effective for reducing stress, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to do it. You can then use this breathing technique as needed for future gas attacks.
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Sleeping And Lying Down
- Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary.
- If you’ve always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what is most comfortable for you.
- Use a back support at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may be helpful.
- Use a firm pillow that supports the curve of your neck.
- Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
- When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
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.
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How To Relieve Nerve Pain In Your Legs
Have you been suffering from sharp, burning pain that radiates down through your leg? Do you experience numbness or tingling in your lower extremities? Does it feel like your leg muscles are becoming progressively weaker?
Most importantly Are negative symptoms such as these controlling your life?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may have a pinched nerve in your leg. While nerve damage may seem a little bit scary, conservative treatmentseven things you can do in the comfort of your own homecan relieve these troublesome symptoms.
First, however, lets start by taking a closer look at what causes nerve pain in the leg.