Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be
Do you have lower back pain? You are not alone. Anyone can experience lower back pain at any time, even if you dont have a prior injury or any of the risk factors. It is not always serious and can often get better on its own. But in some cases pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt right.
Learn more about lower back pain and what causes it from rehabilitation physician Akhil Chhatre, M.D., who specializes in back pain in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The Lumbar Spine What Can Go Wrong
The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides mobility for everyday motions such as bending and twisting. Muscles in the low back are responsible for flexing and rotating the hips while walking, as well as supporting the spinal column. Nerves in the low back supply sensation and power the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
Most acute low back pain results from injury to the muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. The body also reacts to injury by mobilizing an inflammatory healing response. While inflammation sounds minor, it can cause severe pain.
There is a significant overlap of nerve supply to many of the discs, muscles, ligaments, and other spinal structures, and it can be difficult for the brain to accurately sense which is the cause of the pain. For example, a degenerated or torn lumbar disc can feel the same as a pulled muscle both creating inflammation and painful muscle spasm in the same area. Muscles and ligaments heal rapidly, while a torn disc may or may not. The time course of pain helps determine the cause.
How Is Back Pain Evaluated And Diagnosed
In many cases, your healthcare provider may get all the information they need from interviewing you about your symptoms, health history and lifestyle and then doing an exam. However, sometimes image tests are necessary. These may include:
- A medical spine provider who specializes in back pain.
- An orthopaedic provider who specializes in bones and joints.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend a therapist or psychiatrist if youre struggling to cope with your pain.
You May Like: What Can You Do For Back Pain At Home
Who Should Use A Back Support Belt
A 2018 study investigated the effectiveness of a back brace among 22 female participants with chronic back pain. In this study, participants who wore a back brace for 8 weeks experienced significant improvements in back muscle stabilization and a significant reduction in pain compared to participants who did not wear a brace.
Back support belts may also help with the following conditions:
- post-operative healing
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about back support belts.
Why Would A Doctor Order A Ct Scan Instead Of An Mri
Magnetic resonance imaging produces clearer images compared to a CT scan. In instances when doctors need a view of soft tissues, an MRI is a better option than x-rays or CTs. MRIs can create better pictures of organs and soft tissues, such as torn ligaments and herniated discs, compared to CT images.
Also Check: Is Naproxen Good For Back Pain
You’re Having Problems With Your Bowels Or Urination
If your back pain is paired with a loss of control over your bowels or urination, then it’s 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.
Could Lower Back Pain Be Kidney Pain
It absolutely can. Kidneys are located on the back side of your body and kidney pain can sometimes feel like back pain. The only true way to tell the difference is to visit a doctor who can conduct a thorough examination.
Back Pain Causes and Treatments Webinar | Stephanie Van, M.D.
Chronic back pain is a persistent source of discomfort for many adults. In this webinar, our expert Stephanie Van, M.D., discusses common causes of back pain along with strategies for relief.
Recommended Reading: How To Cure Lower Back Pain Naturally
What Is Active Physical Therapy
Active physical therapy involves movement-based activities like: stretching, range of motion exercises, and targeted spine strengthening and conditioning exercises.
The movements and exercises are designed to address those underlying causes of chronic back pain so you can strengthen your back, condition your muscles and improve your mobility.
Whats The Outlook For People With Back Pain And Cancer
Less than 10 percent of spinal tumors actually start in the spine, according to the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Even if a spinal tumor is present and causing lower back pain, the tumor isnt always cancerous.
If the lower back pain is related to metastatic cancer, its important to talk to your doctor about your treatment outlook. When cancers start to spread, this may indicate a poorer prognosis.
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.
How Do I Know If I Have This
Back pain is experienced by people in the population and having mid-back pain does not mean you have pancreatic cancer. However, if you are experiencing mid back pain that is not normal for you, there is no harm in checking with your GP especially if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms described here.
Also Check: How Do I Treat Lower Back Pain
Try The Worlds #1 Enzyme Supplement Free
With a high-quality proteolytic enzyme supplement, you can restore your youthful enzyme levels. In a way, you are turning back the clock on your heart health.
And unlike many vitamins and drugs , you literally cannot get too many enzymes. You can and absolutely should take them every day.
When you consider how powerful they are for reversing damage in your cardiovascular system, youll realize its not just a good idea to find a high-quality proteolytic enzyme supplement for daily use
And you should know that proteolytic enzymes do a lot more than protect your heart.
Most of the chronic conditions we experience as we age from arthritis to cancer to diabetes are caused by inflammation.
Because of their unmatched anti-inflammatory properties, proteolytic enzymes can be used to treat dozens of conditions.
And heres something else you should know
Unlike many miracle supplements, proteolytic enzymes are NOT all hype. Science shows they actually work. And theyve been a standard treatment for many conditions in Europe and Asia for decades.
Now, you dont need a prescription for enzymes, but youll want to make sure you choose the best, most effective supplement on the market.
Here at the Healthy Back Institute®, weve taken the guesswork out of the process for you. Weve done the research, and weve developed the worlds most potent proteolytic enzyme supplement available anywhere.
Its called Heal-n-Soothe®
You May Like: Is Aleve Or Ibuprofen Better For Back Pain
Muscle Strain And Ligament Sprain
A low back sprain or strain can happen suddenly, or can develop slowly over time from repetitive movements.
- Strains occur when a muscle is stretched too far and tears, damaging the muscle itself.
- Sprains happen when over-stretching and tearing affects ligaments, which connect the bones together.
For practical purposes, it does not matter whether the muscle or ligament is damaged, as the symptoms and treatment are the same.
Common causes of sprain and strain include:
- Lifting a heavy object, or twisting the spine while lifting
- Sudden movements that place too much stress on the low back, such as a fall
- Poor posture over time
- Sports injuries, especially in sports that involve twisting or large forces of impact
While sprains and strains do not sound serious and do not typically cause long-lasting pain, the acute pain can be quite severe.
You May Like: What Can Cause A Burning Pain In The Lower Back
Is A Soft Mattress Bad For Your Back
A mattress that is too soft can cause back pain because it doesnt provide enough support for your spine. A study conducted by Harvard showed that people who slept on too-soft mattresses were more likely to experience back pain than those who slept on firmer mattresses. According to the Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, the softest mattresses allowed the spine to sink too far into the mattress, putting strain on the back. Conversely, firmer mattresses provided more support and were less likely to cause back pain. The ideal mattress for lower back pain is somewhere in the middle not too soft and not too firm .If youre not sure what type of mattress is right for you, its best to consult with a doctor or physiotherapist. They will be able to assess your individual needs and make a recommendation based on your health and sleep habits.
What Tests Are Used To Stage Melanoma
There are several tests your doctor can use to stage your melanoma. Your doctor may use these tests:
- Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: Patients with melanomas deeper than 0.8 mm, those who have ulceration under the microscope in tumors of any size or other less common concerning features under the microscope, may need a biopsy of sentinel lymph nodes to determine if the melanoma has spread. Patients diagnosed via a sentinel lymph node biopsy have higher survival rates than those diagnosed with melanoma in lymph nodes via physical exam.
- Computed Tomography scan: A CT scan can show if melanoma is in your internal organs.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan: An MRI scan is used to check for melanoma tumors in the brain or spinal cord.
- Positron Emission Tomography scan: A PET scan can check for melanoma in lymph nodes and other parts of your body distant from the original melanoma skin spot.
- Blood work: Blood tests may be used to measure lactate dehydrogenase before treatment. Other tests include blood chemistry levels and blood cell counts.
Read Also: Does Running Help Lower Back Pain
You May Like: Why Does My Back Pain Move Around
Joint Pain: The Most Common Non
About 30 percent of people with ulcerative colitis experience joint pain, according to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, making it the most common non-GI symptom of the disease. Joint pain often occurs in the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists. Its usually joint pain thats symmetrical, meaning both knees or both ankles, says Dr. Rubin. This type of joint pain tends to parallel bowel activityso if you fix the intestine, the joint pain goes away.
However, ulcerative colitis is also related to inflammatory joint conditions that affect your spine, like ankylosing spondylitis. This type of joint pain can be independent of your bowelso your bowel can be completely in remission, and your back or your pelvis is inflamed, and you can have joint damage, says Rubin.
The good news: Some medications used to treat ulcerative colitis are also used to treat inflammatory joint conditions like ankylosing spondylitis. Its not that fixing the bowel makes these joints betterits that the medication that works on the bowel also works on these joint conditions, says Rubin. So if youre experiencing joint pain, its important to work with your doctor to understand what type of joint pain you have and get proper treatment. In some cases it may be necessary to see a doctor who specializes in the joints, a rheumatologist, to work with your IBD doctor.
Read Also: What To Do When Ulcerative Colitis Flares
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Back Pain
Low back pain is classified as acute and chronic. Acute low back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute low back pain will resolve on its own. Chronic low back pain lasts for more than 3 months and often gets worse. The cause of chronic low back pain can be hard to find. These are the most common symptoms of low back pain. Symptoms may include discomfort or pain in the lower back that is:
- Protruding or herniated disk
Read Also: How To Relieve Lower Back Stress
Best For Posture Support: Riptgear Back Brace
The RiptGear Back Brace is a unisex belt available in black or blue, and in sizes ranging from small to 3XL.
The brace contains comfortable and lightweight and breathable materials, including neoprene, nylon, and spandex. As such, the belt is suitable to wear for extended periods.
RiptGear states that the brace is firm, flexible, and adjustable, and notes that it contains four back support stabilizers for extra support. The company recommends the brace for people who require lumbar and posture support.
At the time of publishing, the RiptGear Back Brace has a list price of around $39.
Key product characteristics
How Your Back Works
The spine, which is also called the backbone or spinal column, is one of the strongest parts of the body and gives us a great deal of flexibility and strength.
Its made up of 24 bones, known as vertebrae, one sitting on top of the other. These bones have discs in between and lots of strong ligaments and muscles around them for support. There are also the bones in the tailbone at the bottom of the back, which are fused together and have no discs in between.
On either side of the spine, running from top to bottom, are many small joints called the facet joints.
The spinal cord passes inside the vertebrae, which protect it.
The spinal cord connects to the brain through the base of the skull and to the rest of the body by nerves that pass through spaces between the bones of the spine. These nerves are also known as nerve roots.
As you grow older, the structures of your spine, such as the joints, discs and ligaments, age as well. The structures remain strong but its usual for your back to get stiffer as you get older.
Don’t Miss: Is Erase My Back Pain Legit
Are There Tests To Diagnose The Cause Of Back Pain
Your healthcare provider will perform a thorough physical examination to determine the cause of your back pain. They may order tests to provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, which could include:
- Blood tests look for signs of infection, inflammation, or arthritis.
- Bone scans detect fractures, infection, cancer, or bone disorders.
- Electromyography tests muscles and nerve signals.
- Imaging tests such as computerized tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , and X-rays take detailed pictures of the spine and surrounding tissues to look for abnormalities.
Make Your Soft Mattress Firmer
Research shows that more than 80% of people who sleep on a soft mattress experience back pain.If your soft mattress is causing back pain, there are a couple of things you can do about it. For starters, you can get a firm mattress topper. This will add an extra layer of support to your mattress and wont make it feel less like youre sinking into quicksand. Another way to make your soft mattress firmer is to flip it over. Mattresses can get softer with time and use. If your mattress is flippable, simply flip it over and enjoy the firmer side. Finally, you can place plywood between the mattress and the bed frame or box spring. This will help to distribute your weight more evenly and prevent you from sinking too deeply into your mattress. Of course, you can always keep doing these things if you have the money and the time. A cheaper and quicker method is simply investing in a new firmer mattress.
You May Like: What To Do For Back Pain During Pregnancy
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.