When Is Lower Back Pain An Emergency
Most episodes of lower back pain eventually resolve on their own, but there are times when you should seek urgent medical attention. Some of these situations include:
- Patient is a child
- Pain is severe, constant, suddenly or progressively worsens, and/or doesnt go away
- Pain interrupts sleep
While some situations may warrant immediate intervention, most cases are not urgent and can be scheduled at a time convenient for the patient.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Low Back Pain
The diagnosis of low back pain involves a review of the history of the illness and underlying medical conditions as well as a physical examination. It is essential that a complete story of the back pain be reviewed including injury history, aggravating and alleviating conditions, associated pain symptoms , as well as the duration and progression of symptoms. Aside from routine abdomen and extremity evaluations, rectal and pelvic examinations may eventually be required as well. Further tests for diagnosis of low back pain can be required including blood and urine tests, plain film X-ray tests, CAT scanning, MRI scanning, bone scanning, and tests of the nerves such as electromyograms and nerve conduction velocities .
Muscle Imbalances And Trigger Points
To help you sit, stand, walk, run and otherwise be active, the muscles, bones, and joints of the body have an uncanny way of “robbing from Peter to pay Paul,” so to speak. It’s all in the name of keeping you balanced and moving.
But for whatever reason the balance that’s established is often not the most ideal, leading to some muscles getting very tight, and others becoming overstretched and taut. In this case, you may develop painful spasms or trigger points on one side of the body or the other.
Muscles commonly affected include your quadratus lumborum which is your flank muscle and your gluteus medius which is located at the side of your hip, and plays a key role in keeping you from excessive side to side movement. Both can lead to pain on the right side of your back, depending on the nature of the imbalance.
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Complementary And Alternative Techniques Include:
- Acupuncture is moderately effective for chronic low back pain. It involves inserting thin needles into precise points throughout the body and stimulating them , which may cause the body to release naturally occurring painkilling chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
- Behavioral approaches include:
- Biofeedback involves attaching electrodes to the skin and using an electromyography machine that allows people to become aware of and control their breathing, muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature people regulate their response to pain by using relaxation techniques
- Cognitive therapy involves using relaxation and coping techniques to ease back pain
Spinal injections include:Trigger point injections can relax knotted muscles that may contribute to back pain. An injection or series of injections of a local anesthetic and often a corticosteroid drug into the trigger point can lessen or relieve pain.
What To Do If You Suspect Something Else
Theres only one major tiphere: See a doctor, whether it is your primary care physician or aspecialist. Each condition that mimics spinal problems comes with its own treatments,but the first step is an accurate diagnosis. For example, a nerve test such aselectromyography can help a doctor spot neuropathy, and a blood-flow testsuch as the ankle-brachial index can distinguish between spinal stenosisand peripheral arterial disease.
Its so important to look atall of your symptoms and history and do a thorough examination, Dr. Khalafsays. Its how we can tell the difference between a back issue and a medicalcondition.
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Is It Possible To Prevent Low Back Pain
Avoiding injury to the low back is a method of preventing low back pain. Additionally, conditioning exercise programs designed to strengthen the lumbar area and adjacent tissues can help to minimize risk of injury to the low back. Specific programs to relieve and prevent back pain can be designed with the help of physical therapists and other treating health care professionals.
What Are The Most Common Lower Back Surgery Procedures
Spine surgery is not necessary for most people who have lower back pain. If you do need it, your doctor will recommend an appropriate procedure to address your specific symptoms and medical situation. Common spine surgeries include:
Spinal Fusion. Two or more vertebrae are permanently fused together to limit excess spinal motion. Your surgeon will use a combination of bone, bonelike material, screws, plates and rods to hold the vertebrae together so they can heal into a single unit. Spinal fusion may be done to correct spinal deformities or to increase the spines stability in severe cases of spinal osteoarthritis or herniated discs.
Laminectomy and laminotomy. Laminectomy is a surgery in which your surgeon removes the back portion of one or more vertebrae to create more space for the spinal cord or other nerves. In people with severe arthritis, bone spurs within the spinal canal can grow large enough to press on the spinal cord, causing pain and limiting mobility. In a similar surgery known as laminotomy, your surgeon will remove a small piece of bone called the lamina from the back of the vertebra.
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Tips To Prevent Or Decrease Bowel Problems
- Make sure you eat regularly: take at least three meals spread across the day and no more than three to four snacks in-between.
- Take time to eat and chew well.
- Ensure that your food contains sufficient fibre .
- Drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.
- Go to the toilet on time, or even allocate a set time to go to the toilet undisturbed.
- Do not use laxatives without the permission of a doctor.
- Take sufficient and frequent exercise.
Can A Pelvic Fracture Cause Pain Above The Hip
According to researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, pelvic fractures can cause lower back pain above the right hip or left hip. Damage your pelvic area can also result in abdominal pain, pain when walking, or difficulty standing for a long period of time. 9
It can be difficult to know exactly what the pain in the right side of your pelvic region and abdominal area can mean. The pain on your right side could be due to your hip bone, pelvic bone, digestion issues, or spinal nerves.
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Muscle Sprain Or Strain
This is the most common cause of pain, particularly of the right or left side of your lower back, says Dr. Gharibo. It often pops up because of poor posture, body mechanics, and deconditioning .
Lifting something incorrectly or attempting to lift too much weight can lead to lower back pain, Dr. Gharibo says. You might feel a spasm when this happens, like your muscle is contracting quickly and painfully.
If you experienced an event that led to a strain or spasm, the obvious next step is to avoid repeating that same activity. Lying down for a short period of time will take the pressure off of your spine, which may help relieve some of the discomfort, according to Dr. Gharibo.
If you don’t have conditions that stop you from taking certain medications, Dr. Gharibo suggests taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, too. He recommends acetaminophen and ibuprofen taken together to help aid the aches. If one pill doesn’t work, two may better control the issue, he says.
Treatments For Back Pain From A Specialist
A GP, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they do not think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These may include:
- group exercise classes where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
- manual therapy treatments, such as manipulating the spine and massage, which are usually done by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
- psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , which can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with pain
Some people choose to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing a GP first. If you want to do this, you’ll usually need to pay for private treatment.
Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.
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What Is The Function Of The Low Back
The low back, or lumbar area, serves a number of important functions for the human body. These functions include structural support, movement, and protection of certain body tissues.
When we stand, the lower back is functioning to support the weight of the upper body. When we bend, extend, or rotate at the waist, the lower back is involved in the movement. Therefore, injury to the structures important for weight bearing, such as the bony spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, often can be detected when the body is standing erect or used in various movements.
Protecting the soft tissues of the nervous system and spinal cord as well as nearby organs of the pelvis and abdomen is a critical function the lumbar spine and adjacent muscles of the low back.
A Fat Wallet Can Trigger Piriformis
You might not think of too much cash as a source of pain, but a fat wallet can trigger piriformis syndrome. The condition can affect men who wear their wallet in the back pocket of their pants. This puts chronic pressure on the piriformis muscle and can aggravate the sciatic nerve over time. You can avoid this problem by keeping your wallet in a front pocket or jacket pocket.
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The Causes Of Lower Right Back Pain
The spine grants both strength and stability to the entire body. As the most common type of back pain, many people will experience lower back pain at least once in their lives. Some may experience mild back pain while others may live with severe chronic back pain that prevents simple daily functions. There are many types of back pain, as well as different causes. Conditions that affect the muscles, bones, nerves, or organs can all contribute to pain on the lower right side of the back. Understanding the cause of lower right back pain can help board-certified spine doctors identify the underlying conditions or injuries that are responsible for mild or severe pain. More importantly, this critical knowledge can help doctors devise effective treatment plans for optimal recovery.
What Causes Lower Back Pain And Pelvic Pain
This type of pain may be caused by: Pelvic pain can also appear with lower back pain. Possible causes include: If you have pudendal nerve entrapment, youll have pain in your pelvis and buttocks. The pain may spread to your hips. A pelvic injury can also lead to hip pain. A doctor will use different tests to diagnose your pain, including:
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L: Emotions Acceptance And Ancestral Support As A Spiritual Source Of Lower Back Pain
Moving up the spine, L4 is the seat of emotion, especially grief. It’s also your center for creativity, how you hold joy with your family, community, and world around you.
For people who grew up with the belief that it was not okay to express strong emotion, specifically around loss and tragedy, pain will often show up here. Likewise, if celebrations were not honored, or there was not a true outlet for expressing joy and connection, this part of the lower back can cause problems.
L3 is about acceptance from our family. People who donât feel accepted for their choice of a partner or for their sexual orientation may develop pain in this area of the low back. According to Naluai, pain here also represents ânot having familial support towards the decisions that you make and how that lineage conversation affects your attitudes towards communities. It’s about interrelationships that can be from the past, present, and future in your understanding.â
How Do The Intestines Work
The intestines are part of the digestive system and run from the abdomen to the anus. Most nutrients are absorbed in the intestines. The intestines are a few metres long. On average, the small intestine is 6 metres and the large intestine one and a half metres. Via peristaltic movements the small intestines transport undigested food to the large intestines. In the large intestines, this food is processed and various rotting and fermentation processes take place. This is where bowel problems, such as flatulence or wind, often occur.
In most of the cases, the cause of bowel problems is an incorrect lifestyle, such as smoking and lack of exercise. Also, food with too much fat and too few fibres may cause diarrhoea or constipation. To prevent or reduce bowel problems, it is recommended to ensure you eat high-fibre foods .
Fibres are parts of vegetable foods that your small intestines cannot digest or absorb. They go to the large intestines undigested. Due to a lack of fibres in food, there will be fewer indigestible material in the intestines. In the absence of sufficient bulk and the stimulating action of the food fibres, the intestines are insufficiently stimulated. This is detrimental for proper digestion of food. Moreover, too little fluid is absorbed causing hard stools and making bowel movements difficult.
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Lower Right Back Pain From A Herniated Disc
A herniated disc developers when a disc protrusion ruptures or herniates through the delicate wall of the intervertebral disc. As a result, the viscous material from the interior of the disc can spill into the spinal canal, thereby producing intense pain from impinging on sensitive nerves on one side of the body. In most cases, disc herniation originates from gradual, age-related wear and tear referred to as disc degeneration. Signs and symptoms of herniated discs depend on the location in the spine and if the disc is pressing on a nerve. The most common symptoms a patient will experience include pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf, numbness or tingling from the affected nerves, and muscle weakness affecting stability and the ability to lift or hold items.
Sharp Stabbing Pain In Lower Left Side Of Back
Lower back pain that is localized to one side of the body may feel like a constant ache or pain that flares up occasionally and then subsides. Pain in the lower left side of the back can be sharp, stabbing, and severe or a dull, consistent ache. In some cases, lower left side back pain stops or worsens with movement and may even change when pressure is placed on the back.
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Tips To Relieve The Pain
- Stay active and continue your daily routines. Resting is likely to make your pain worse.
- Apply heat or ice for about twenty minutes frequently throughout the day to ease your pain and any inflammation.
- Try exercises for back pain and activities including walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates.
- Take over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen.
- Stretch tight muscles for a few minutes every day.
- Keep good posture as this will ease the pressure on your lower back.
- Maintain a healthy weight to ensure an optimal load on your lower back.
- Ensure you lift safely by bending with your knees to a squat position and holding the load close to your chest.
- Drink plenty of water every day and limit your intake of animal protein and salt to reduce your risk of kidney stones.
- Wipe from front to back when going to the toilet to prevent infection from bacteria in your colon passing to your urinary tract.
- Give up smoking as the nicotine in tobacco can weaken your spinal bones and remove nutrients from your discs that may lead to spine problems.
When Should You Be Concerned
Many people experience headaches and mostly medical intervention is not required. Yet, here are some situations requiring medical visits:
- If the headache is more painful than previous headaches you have experienced in the past
- If the headache starts suddenly and aggressively
- If the headache is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting, fever, nausea, seizures, blurry vision, loss of consciousness, changes in speech, behavioral changes, weakness, etc.
- If the headache was brought about by physical exertion
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Complications Related To Sciatica
If you develop a loss of bladder or bowel control, contact your doctor right away. This can be a sign of a medical emergency that requires surgery to avoid permanent damage. Fortunately, this complication is rare. Most cases of sciatica go away within a few days or weeks and cause no lasting harm.
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.
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