Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
How Do I Get Back Pain Relief
Back pain is best initially assessed by a general practitioner . They will make an assessment and make sure there are no warning signs for something serious.
If they suspect something more serious is causing back pain, they may do some scans or blood tests and send you to see a pain specialist or a neurosurgeon or spinal surgeon.
If the back pain is mild or improving, GPs may:
Reassure that there is no serious cause for concern and advise that the back pain should improve with physical activity and simple pain medications.
If the back pain persists or returns GPs may:
Use stronger pain medications
Suggest management by an expert pain physiotherapist
Refer to a pain specialist physician to provide more comprehensive back pain management using options like joint and nerve blocks, sympathetic blocks and radiofrequency ablation , pulsed radiofrequency or nerve stimulation and neuromodulation using spinal cord stimulation
Refer to a neurosurgeon or spine surgeon for an opinion
Contact us to book an appointment with a pain specialist.
Be Proactive About Your Back Pain Treatment Plan
If the current treatment plan for your back pain isn’t working, consider researching various spine specialists on your own. There may be a different type of health professional who is better suited to treat your condition.
Before you see a specialist, write down a clear description of your symptoms and the treatments you’ve tried. This written record can help you to better communicate with your new doctor. Also, don’t be shy about seeking a second opinion if you think it will help alleviate your back pain.
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Best Doctors For Back Pain
Since you shouldn’t try to diagnose your own back pain, make your first call to a professional who can assess your problem, such as a primary care physician or a chiropractor.
Both can serve as an entry point for back pain.
Generally speaking, your primary care provider will only offer pain medications or injections designed to reduce pain, but not necessarily correct the issue.
Chiropractors on the other hand, have much more training when it comes to addressing back pain.
A chiropractors training contains over 150 more hours of education in biomechanics, while medical students learn more about pharmaceuticals.
Chiropractors use posture exercises and hands-on spinal manipulation to relieve back pain, improve function, and help the body heal itself.
According to Harvard Health, the most positive research on chiropractic therapy has focused on spinal manipulation for low back pain.
Here’s a few quotes including the scientific journal reference discussing chiropractic care for back pain:
âFor patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially selectnon-pharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction , tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation .â
American College of Physicians
Goertz et al. , Spine
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
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Where To Start With Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common complaints on the planet.
And when someone starts experiencing back pain it can be so frightening that we immediately want an expert that will somehow magically get rid of it.
Unfortunately, there’s just no unicorns and rainbows when it comes to solving back pain.
Realize that most back pain will resolve on its own. What I’m saying here is that your major ache or tweaked out back doesn’t require a specialist in most cases.
Some of the most common causes of acute or sudden back pain include an injury:
- to a muscle or tendon
- to a back ligament
- to a bulging disc .
And the reality is, many of these issues will eventually resolve on their own.
In my personal opinion, the first time someone starts to experience back pain, they should immediately start doing back extension exercises.
I would continue to do back extensions every 3-4 hours throughout the day for at least 3 days.
And if you notice that you’re feeling better, continue for another 1-2 weeks.
But if your low back pain doesn’t improve, then maybe there is something more serious happening.
More serious causes of back pain include:
- a narrowing of the spinal canal
- disc tears or herniations
- severe degenerative disc disease
- spinal infections
So if your back pain doesn’t improve with back extensions and modified activities, then you’d want to consider someone who is qualified to properly assess the situation.
Should You See A Chiropractor For Low Back Pain
If youve ever seen a doctor for back pain, youre not alone. An estimated 85% of people experience back pain severe enough to see a doctor for at some point in their life. Yet despite how common it is, the precise cause of pain is often unclear. And a single, best treatment for most low back pain is unknown. For these reasons, doctors recommendations tend to vary. “Standard care” includes a balance of rest, stretching and exercise, heat, pain relievers, and time. Some doctors also suggest trying chiropractic care. The good news is that no matter what treatment is recommended, most people with a recent onset of back pain are better within a few weeks often within a few days.
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Warning Signs Of More Serious Back Problems
In some instances, pain can indicate more serious back problems. These problems might include cancer, fractures, infection, severe nerve compression and ankylosis spondylitis.
If there is cancer in the bones of the spine, this usually means metastases .
Fractures of the spine can be caused by a direct hit, fall, accident but sometimes can occur without trauma, called spontaneous fractures. Spontaneous fractures, usually can occur in elderly people with osteoporosis or those who may be taking medications that weaken the bone.
Infections of the spine tend to occur if patients have a weakened immune system from any cause or medical condition. Sometimes infections of the spine can occur if there is an infection elsewhere in the body. People with spinal infections usually feel unwell and can have sweats and a fever.
Nerve compression, called myelopathy, where there is a dangerous compression of the spinal cord in the neck. Myelopathy could cause symptoms that might include, weakness or problems with coordination in the legs or feet.
Ankylosing spondylitis is progressive arthritis of the spine and can cause widespread inflammation, pain and stiffness throughout the spine, including back pain.
Seek urgent and specialist medical advice if you have:
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Chronic Low Back Pain Of No Specific Origin
Low back pain is defined as pain, tightness, and stiffness between the lower end of the rib cage and the buttocks. “Chronic” means the pain has lasted for twelve weeks or longer, and “no specific origin” means the pain cannot be traced to any specific cause, incident, or injury.
Most susceptible are individuals who perform heavy physical work, especially when there is ongoing anxiety, depression, and emotional stress at the same time. The longer the stress and back pain continue, the more difficult it is to ease the symptoms and return the patient to normal functioning.
Treatment involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes opioid medications for pain, though both have risks when used long term. Antidepressants may also be tried, along with psychological counseling.
Corticosteroid injections for the back are effective for some patients, and fusion surgery is sometimes attempted. Lifestyle changes in the form of improved diet, exercise, and stress management are very helpful in most cases.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, unintentional weight loss, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, involuntary defecation
Symptoms that always occur with chronic low back pain of no specific origin: lower back pain
Symptoms that never occur with chronic low back pain of no specific origin: thigh numbness, buttocks numbness, lower back pain from an injury
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Can Lower Back Pain Be A Sign Of Something Serious Like Cancer
Lower back pain can be related to cancer. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms of prostate cancer when it metastasizes and creates lesions. Almost any cancer can spread to the back and some, like sarcoma, can originate in the back. Be cautious, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms besides lower back pain. Talk to your doctor if you have additional symptoms or concerns.
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When Should I See A Doctor About Back Pain
About 80% of adults experience back pain at some time in their lives. It’s one of most common reasons people see a doctor or miss work. The pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, sudden and debilitating pain.
For most people, back pain is mechanical in nature, which means the elements of your back and how they move together has changed.
Possible back conditions could include:
Muscle or ligament strain
Heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain the muscles or ligaments in your back. Also, if you are overweight or in poor physical condition, the constant strain on your back can cause muscle fatigue and muscle spasms.
Bulging or ruptured disk
Disks are the cushions between the bones in your spine. You can have bulging or ruptured disks that may or may not cause pain by compressing a nerve root and causing pain that radiates into the leg.
Disks may narrow over time and cause your vertebrae to grind together resulting pain.
Most back pain even severe back pain goes away on its own in four to six weeks with self-care, such as rest, heat or ice, over-the-counter pain medication and exercise.
Surgery often is effective to correct a spinal deformity or instability issue. Surgery also is helpful to treat pain radiating down a leg due to compression of a nerve root in the spine if other conservative treatments have failed. However, surgery is not considered a good treatment for generalized back pain.
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When Should I See A Doctor If I Have Lower Back Pain
In many cases lower back pain stops on its own. But if it doesnt, here are some guidelines on when you may want to start seeking professional help:
- If the pain lasts four weeks or longer
- If the pain keeps getting worse as time goes by
- If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, major weight loss or weight gain, loss of function or weakness in extremities, bladder problems, etc.
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How To Tell If Your Lower Back Pain Is Muscle
by Dr. Don DuffAug 20, 2019
The low back is a fairly complicated structure, so its no wonder the majority of peopleexperts estimate up to 80% of usexperience pain in this area of our bodies at some point in our lives. In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctors office.
The key to relieving back pain is understanding the cause. But diagnosing the of a patients pain isnt always a straightforward exercise. It could be muscle, joint, or disc-related in some cases, it may even arise from issues unrelated to the back. So how can you tell if your back pain is muscle- or disc-related, or attributable to something else entirely? Well cover all the possibilities in this post.
Lower Right Back Pain Symptoms
The back provides both strength and stability to the entire body, leaving it vulnerable to many kinds of injury. It’s possible for even severe back pain to be confined to just one side of the back. When the pain is entirely on the lower right side, it may suggest a specific type of injury or illness, and it’s important to have it examined. Low back pain is also called lumbago or sciatica.
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Common Treatments For Low Back Pain
Combining information from the patients medical history, physical exam, and possible diagnostic tests, the healthcare provider will recommend a course of back care that fits the patients needs.
Non-surgical treatments for low back pain will be recommended first. Common non-surgical treatments include:
- Physical therapy, which typically works to strengthen muscles and mobilize joints in order to better support the spine and minimize painful movements.
When To Get Medical Help And Advice
Nine out of 10 people find their lower back pain improves within four to six weeks. You may find that you feel better sooner than this, in a few weeks. But contact your GP if the pain is severe, getting worse over time or isnt improving after four to six weeks. Also, contact your GP urgently if you feel unwell or have a high temperature. And if you have had cancer or osteoporosis, your GP may want to check that there isnt a more serious cause.
Seek medical attention right away if you:
- have numbness or tingling around your bottom or genitals
- cant control when you pee or cant go at all
- lose control of your bowels
- are unsteady when you walk, your legs feel weak or your foot is dropping or dragging
These may be signs that the nerves at the bottom of your spine are being squashed. This is called cauda equina syndrome and needs urgent treatment.
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When Should I See My Doctor
If you have back pain and have lost feeling or movement in your limbs or are having problems controlling your bowels or bladder, call triple 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
You should see your doctor or other health care professional for further advice if:
- your pain bothers you
- your back pain doesnt improve after a few weeks or worsens
- you have symptoms such as weight loss, tingling or numbness in the legs, or problems with bladder and/or bowel control
- you have osteoporosis
You should see your doctor as soon as possible, if you have a history of cancer, are prone to infection, or use intravenous drugs.
For most people, back pain will resolve in a few weeks with appropriate self-care. After 2 months, 9 out of 10 people will recover from back pain.
Should You See A Neurologist For Back Pain And Neck Pain
People manage chronic back and neck pain in different ways. Some try stretching or alternating heat and cold at the source of the discomfort. Others turn to over-the-counter pain medicine and a stoic demeanor. Acute pain often goes away without medical treatment, but dont ignore chronic and persistent pain that lasts for weeks, months, or years. Weakness, numbness, tingling or pain radiating into an arm or leg are important symptoms that need evaluation by a physician. Talk to your doctor to determine the cause of the problem. Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, to help determine the cause of your back pain.
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Common Causes Of Back Pain
Two of the most common reasons for back are muscle strains or ligament sprains. and bad posture can put on your back and make it hurt. and other changes in your spine as you get older can cause back pain. More serious causes of the condition include a ruptured disc or . Possible causes of back pain include:
, when the soft center of spinal disc slips out of place
, a disease that thins and weakens bones including the vertebrae
, a bone infection
, arthritis in the spine
Sacroiliitis, inflammation of the joint between the pelvis and lower spine
Back Sprain Or Strain
Symptoms typically include:
- Muscle spasms, cramping, and stiffness.
- Pain in the back and sometimes in the buttock. It may come on quickly or gradually. It most often occurs in episodes. Certain movements make it worse, and doing light activities such as walking makes it feel better. The worst pain usually lasts 48 to 72 hours and may be followed by days or weeks of less severe pain.
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