Lower Back Pain Causes: 8 Reasons For Sudden & Chronic Pain
Sometimes, you know exactly why your back is hurting. Maybe you lifted something awkwardly and felt the pain right away. Or maybe your doctor has been warning you for years that your bad posture would lead to lower back pain.
But other times, the source of back pain can feel like a mystery.
“Your lumbar spine, located in your lower back, plays a crucial role in supporting the weight of your upper body. It’s also responsible for everyday movements, such as bending, twisting and coordinating the muscles in your hips, pelvis legs and feet,” says Dr. Kenneth Palmer, orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery at Houston Methodist. “Due to heavy use, the bones, muscles, ligaments, disks and nerves found in your lumbar spine are quite susceptible to both injury and wear and tear over time causing pain in the lower back.”
Lower back pain symptoms include:
- Dull ache in your hips and/or pelvis
- Muscle spasms or tightness
- Sharp, tingling pain that starts in your lower back and travels down one leg
- Pain that worsens with sitting and quickly improves while walking
- Pain that is noticeably worse in the morning
“Typically, a person experiences some combination of these symptoms, which can develop suddenly or over time. In some cases, lower back pain can feel like it comes and goes flaring up now and then, but generally getting progressively worse over time,” explains Dr. Palmer.
Speaking of the various causes of lower back pain…
Can Back Pain Be Prevented
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy
Other Conditions That Cause Back Pain In Older Adults
We often see a range of less serious but still painful spine conditions in seniors. Most patients with these conditions will not require surgery. Physical therapy, medication, injectable anesthetics, or a combination of treatments usually can control symptoms.
- Degenerative disc disease, which can cause whole spine pain, and lumbar arthritis, which usually causes low-back pain, commonly develop with age and are considered wear-and-tear conditions.
- Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of the joints that connect your spine and pelvis. This condition can cause pain in the low back, glutes, and upper legs.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that causes patients spines to become inflexible, resulting in a continual hunched forward position and spine pain.
- We also check for adult degenerative scoliosis and kyphosis, spine-curving conditions that can result in back pain and weakness in the lower extremities.
Also Check: Aleve Good For Back Pain
Range Of Lower Back Pain Symptoms
Low back pain can incorporate a wide variety of symptoms. It can be mild and merely annoying or it can be severe and debilitating. Low back pain may start suddenly, or it could start slowlypossibly coming and goingand gradually get worse over time.
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, symptoms can be experienced in a variety of ways. For example:
- Pain that is dull or achy, contained to the low back
- Stinging, burning pain that moves from the low back to the backs of the thighs, sometimes into the lower legs or feet can include numbness or tingling
- Muscle spasms and tightness in the low back, pelvis, and hips
- Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing
- Difficulty standing up straight, walking, or going from standing to sitting
In addition, symptoms of lower back pain are usually described by type of onset and duration:
Living With Low Back Pain
Most back pain will ease in a few days to a few weeks. If the pain lasts longer than 3 months, it’s considered chronic and you should talk with your healthcare provider. Recovery from low back pain can take time. To prevent back pain from coming back, it’s important to follow good health practices, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly with emphasis on strengthening both back and abdominal muscles
- Practicing good lifting techniques
- Maintaining good posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping
- Not smoking
You May Like: Aleve Lower Back Pain
Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
Tips To Reduce Your Chances Of Getting Back Pain
However, there are few things that one can take care of while working from home including finding time out from a busy schedule to stroll for at least half an hour after work.
If that is also not possible then we need to get up in between and walk around the house a bit maintaining an ideal height of the laptop and their work screen and adjusting the height of the computer screen at or slightly below the eye level.
Another effective measure one can take to protect their back is by keeping a hard pillow on the chair for back support. This will reduce the chances of back strain.
Also Check: Advil Good For Back Pain
The Most Common Covid Symptoms Now
Scientists with the COVID Symptom Study have been tracking symptoms associated with newly diagnosed COVID cases since early in the pandemic. Their data indicates that the five most reported Omicron symptoms are the same as those associated with Deltasymptoms that may be confused with the common cold, including runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and sore throat.
People who’ve contracted the Omicron variant have also frequently reported loss of appetite and brain fog, the researchers said.
What Are The Signs Of A Back Injury
Signs you may have injured your back include:
- pain or tenderness
- pain that worsens with movement, coughing, sneezing or laughing
- stiffness or difficulty moving
- pain that radiates down one or both legs
It is important to find out the cause of your symptoms so they can be treated properly.
Recommended Reading: Aleve Or Advil For Back Pain
Signs Your Back Pain Might Be An Emergency
In our 20s and 30s, normal back pain often can be attributed to factors of daily life, such as sitting too long, picking up children, or overdoing it while exercising.
In our 40s and older, work injuries and the beginnings of arthritis and degenerative conditions are more common.
Back pain is so common, in fact, that many patients shrug off symptoms that might indicate a medical emergency.
Approximately 80% of adults will experience back pain in their lives, so its important to be able to identify the severity of your symptoms and track how long the pain lasts.
If back pain can be associated with a specific activity, such as lifting or twisting wrong, and the pain goes away within 72 hours after resting and applying ice, its usually nothing to worry about. However, if pain creeps on gradually, appears suddenly, or doesn’t go away, you might have a more serious condition.
How Can I Take Care Of Back Pain And Dizziness At Home
If your back pain and dizziness are related to an injury, resting and icing your back can help ease pain and inflammation. Always keep the ice covered with a cloth. Leave it on for no more than 10 minutes at a time to prevent injuring your skin.
You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce your back pain.
Read Also: How Much Advil Can I Take For Back Pain
What Your Back Pain Is Telling You About Your Health
It may be a symptom of Covid’s omicron variant but there are a host of other reasons that you could be in a lot of discomfort
New data from the ZOE Covid Study has revealed that lower-back pain is one of the eight tell-tale symptoms of the omicron variant of coronavirus.
It’s not that surprising that you should get muscle pains with a Covid infection, says Professor Martin Underwood a back pain researcher from Warwick Medical School. Because it’s related to other viral infections and we know that with cold and flu you will often get muscle pains.
Yet back pain is not just limited to Covid: approximately one in six people in England have back pain and up to 60 per cent of the adult population can expect to have lower back pain at some time in their life, says NICE .
Aches and pains in your back could be telling you that you have the virus, particularly if they are accompanied by other typical cold-like symptoms, such as a scratchy throat, but what else might back pain be telling you? Heres everything you need to know.
Whats Causing Lung Pain In Your Back
There are several reasons you may be feeling pain in and around the back of your lungs.
However, your lungs have very few pain receptors, and people often refer to more general chest pains as lung pains.
Read Also: Is Aleve Good For Back Pain
Is My Lower Back Pain Cancer
While back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek care from a primary healthcare provider, it is very rarely a sign of cancer. Back pain is usually caused by injury, overuse, or spinal problems, such as disc degeneration, arthritis, or stenosis.
Though the likelihood that back pain is a sign of cancer is rare, there are some types of cancer that can cause back pain as an early symptom.
Primary cancers that develop in the spine can present with back pain as the first symptom. Other types of cancer can cause back pain or metastasize to the spine and cause pain.
Even though most back pain isn’t caused by cancer, it is still important to be able to recognize the symptoms that might point to cancer.
Ready To Address Your Back Pain
The University of Maryland Spine Network can help you put your pain behind you. With convenient locations throughout the state, the UM Spine Network is home to the region’s leading spine surgeons and specialists that can help you identify the source of your pain and put an end to it for good.
Put an end to your back pain. Find a spine specialist near you.
In This Section:
Recommended Reading: Is Aleve Or Ibuprofen Better For Back Pain
What Causes Low Back Pain
The exact cause of low back pain can be hard to determine. Back pain may be a symptom of many different causes, including any of these:
- Overuse, strenuous activity, or improper use
- Degeneration of vertebrae
- Poor muscle tone in the back
- Muscle tension or spasm
- Joint problems
- Protruding or herniated disk
Lower Back Pain Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment
The lumbar spine, or low back, is a remarkably well-engineered structure of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles all working together to provide support, strength, and flexibility. However, this complex structure also leaves the low back susceptible to injury and pain.
This article presents a model for understanding symptoms, physical findings, imaging studies, and injection techniques to come to a precise diagnosis.
Once an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the lower back pain is attained, treatment options can be selected based on todays best medical practices.
Don’t Miss: Advil Or Tylenol For Back Pain
The Ache Wont Go Away
Youve tried the DIY treatments, gotten massages, and maybe even bought a new mattress. If your upper back pain is persistently hurting, it may very rarely be a sign of a lung tumour. The American Cancer Society points out that advanced lung cancer may contribute to bone pain. Weight loss, chest pain and weakness are also signs of lung cancer. If your back pain hasnt gone away and wakes you up at night, see your doctor.
Low Back Pain Symptoms And Signs
Pain in the lumbosacral area is the primary symptom of low back pain.
- The pain may radiate down the front, side, or back of your leg, or it may be confined to the low back.
- The pain may become worse with activity.
- Occasionally, the pain may be worse at night or with prolonged sitting such as on a long car trip.
- You may have numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve.
- This can cause an inability to plantar flex the foot. This means you would be unable to stand on your toes or bring your foot downward. This occurs when the first sacral nerve is compressed or injured.
- Another example would be the inability to raise your big toe upward. This results when the fifth lumbar nerve is compromised.
Don’t Miss: Aleve And Back Pain
Your Pain Extends To Other Body Parts
If you’re experiencing severe back pain that is coupled with pain in other areas such as shooting pain down your leg then you should see a doctor. This could be a sign that you have sciatica, a form of pain that affects the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back and through the buttocks before branching down each leg. This condition usually results from a herniated disk. A doctor will be able to offer a variety of ways that you can relieve this pain.
Back Pain As An Early Sign Of Pregnancy
When trying to get pregnant, you become acutely aware of how your body is feeling. Some women wonder if lower back pain can be a sign that you are pregnant.
Considering the lifestyles we have, lower back pain is pretty common whether you are pregnant or not. It also isn’t specific to women. Everyone ends up with back pain at some point or another. In very early pregnancy, there are much more reliable early pregnancy symptoms.
Symptoms like mild cramping, fatigue, breast tenderness, having to pee ALL THE TIME, and nausea are better indicators that you may have successfully conceived this month. The most significant sign that you are pregnant will be when your period does not arrive.
Also Check: Ibuprofen For Back Pain Dosage
The Pain Is Persistent
If your discomfort remains active for more than a few days or requires the constant use of pain medicine, its advisable to be seen by a doctor. Continuous pressure around the sensitive nerves can cause fluid buildup. In turn, the nerves can become permanently damaged. Additional symptoms, such as worsened pain, scarring, and swelling, may also arise.
In time, severe spinal pain can impose lifestyle limitations. It may become challenging to do light activity, including what were once enjoyable activities.
Eventually, long-term pressure on the neck may also induce neck pain and vice-versa. Other severe conditions that may result from severe uncorrected back pain include cervical arthritis, headaches, respiratory complications, and vertebral bone spurs.
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.
Recommended Reading: Mayo Clinic Low Back Pain Exercises
If You Have Frozen Shoulder Or Shoulder Pain
With a frozen shoulder, we call it adhesive capsulitis, says Underwood. We dont know what causes it. One theory suggests that there may be an autoimmune component to the process, where the body attacks healthy tissue spiralling into a growing inflammatory response.
It is characterised by pain and stiffness in the shoulder, but its difficult to tell it apart from problems with the rotator cuff or with the ligaments that move the shoulder. Either way, the treatment is the same and it usually gets better whatever you do. Advice for a frozen shoulder? Its back to ibuprofen and keep moving, says Underwood. Some doctors recommend a steroid injection into the joint. But they probably only have a short term effect.