How Do I Know If Back Pain Is Serious
Any time youre experiencing back pain that lasts longer than two weeks with no improvement, we strongly recommend you seek care. If you have sudden back pain or chronic back pain with certain symptoms, or if you have a history of cancer, the pain could be a sign of something more serious. These symptoms include:
- Unexplained fever
Age And Gender Issues
Age and gender are important factors to consider when diagnosing low back pain. In a young patient, a benign tumor of the spine called an osteoid osteoma may be the culprit. Inflammatory bowel disease in young people can be connected with spondylitis and sacroiliitis . Low back pain from disc disease or spinal degeneration is more likely to occur as people get older. Conditions such as abdominal aneurysm or multiple myeloma are also considered in older individuals.
Osteoporosis and fibromyalgia are much more common triggers of back pain in women than in men. Osteoporosis is a progressive decrease in bone density that leaves the bones brittle, porous and prone to fracture. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips.
Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
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How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
Heat Therapy And Cold Therapy To Help Back Pain
Heat therapy and cold therapy are two sides of the same coin. Heat therapy uses warm water or heating pads to relieve muscle pain, while cold therapy uses ice or cold water. In certain situations, using heat therapy and cold therapy can help relieve pain and promote healing.
For new or acute pain like pain caused by a fall or other pain that shouldnt last beyond six weeks cold therapy can be a great way to reduce swelling, decrease inflammation and numb pain.
For chronic pain pain thats expected to last or has lasted for more than six weeks heat is usually the temperature of choice for soothing pain and stimulating the healing process.
You might benefit from both hot and cold therapy. For instance, after exercise, immediate cold therapy can reduce muscle soreness. After 24 hours, switching to heat therapy can help your muscles heal faster.
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Avoid Prolonged Static Posture
It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:
- Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.
Inflammatory Lower Back Pain
Although comparatively few patients have low back pain due to a systemic inflammatory condition, the problem can be life long and can impair function significantly. The good news is that treatments can help essentially all patients, and can lead to major improvements.
Seronegative are a group of inflammatory diseases that begin at a young age, with gradual onset. Like other inflammatory joint diseases, they are associated with morning stiffness that gets better with exercise. Sometimes fusion of vertebrae in the cervical or lumbar regions of the spine occurs. Drugs called TNF-alpha blocking agents, which are used for rheumatoid arthritis, are also used to treat the stiffness, pain, and swelling of spondyloarthropathy, when the cases are severe and not responsive to traditional medications
People who have spondyloarthropathy have stiffness that is generally worst in the morning, and have decreased motion of the spine. They also can have decreased ability to take a deep breath due to loss of motion of the chest wall. Its important for the physician to look for problems with chest wall expansion in patients with spondyloarthropathy.
syndrome is one of the forms of spondyloarthropathy. It is a form of arthritis that occurs in reaction to an infection somewhere in the body, and it carries its own set of signs and symptoms. The doctor will look for:
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Weakness And Legs Giving Way With Back Pain
Sudden back pain or weakness that causes the legs to give way can be a sign of a serious underlying problem and should be evaluated right away by a healthcare professional such as a physical therapist. Common issues that may result in the legs giving way with back pain include:
- A herniated disc
- Peripheral neuropathy
A herniated disc develops when the gel-like fluid inside of spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae protrudes through a tear in the protective outer layer, causing pain. This complication may be due to an injury or degenerative changes that develop with age.
If the herniated disc begins to compress a nerve that is nearby, it can lead to back pain, numbness, burning, or tingling down the legs, muscle weakness, pain that worsens when sitting or standing, or weakness that causes the legs to give way.
Sciatica is characterized by lower back pain that is caused by a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine. The pain radiates along the sciatic nerve, which is one of the main nerves that runs down the lower back, the hips, buttocks, and the legs.
When sciatic pain develops, it typically affects one side, but both sides of the body may be impacted. The pain may extend to both legs as well. The pain that sciatica causes can feel like a constant, dull ache or a sharp burning sensation that worsens during inactivity .
Home Remedies: Treatments And Therapies For Back Pain
Most acute back pain gets better with a few weeks of home treatment. However, everyone is different, and back pain is a complex condition. For many, the pain doesn’t go away for a long period, but only a few have persistent, severe pain.
For acute back pain, over-the-counter pain relievers and the periodic use of heat might be all you need. But bed rest is not recommended. Keep moving. Continue your activities as much as you can tolerate. Certainly stop activity that increases pain, but don’t avoid activity out of fear of pain. If home treatments aren’t working after several weeks, your health care provider might suggest stronger medications or other treatments and therapies.
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There Are Many Different Reasons For Lower Back Pain But The Most Prevalent Is A Injury To The Muscle Or A Sprain
There are several causes of lower back pain, but the most frequent is a strain or sprain to the muscle. These injuries can result from lifting something that is heavy and sudden movements or long standing or sitting in one spot. In some cases, lower back pain can be caused by arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or a herniated disc. Muscle strains and strains are the most frequent causes of lower back pain.
The signs of a muscle strain or strain include stiffness, pain, or tenderness in the lower back. In some cases you may also experience muscle spasms. If you think that you be suffering from a muscle strain sprain, its important to visit a doctor so they can determine the cause for your pain and suggest the best treatment. Treatment for a muscle strain or sprain usually includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. In cases of extreme severity physical therapy may be recommended.
Exercises That Can Relieve Lower Back Pain In Just 10 Minutes
Lower back pain is a common pest that promises to suck the joy right out of just about anything.
But dont worry, you are not alone! Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal complaint worldwide, and it is estimated that up to 85% of all adults will experience low back pain at some stage during their lifetime.
Majority of lower back pain will be non-specific, meaning that there is pain in the absence of a specific underlying condition that can be reliably identified.
There are only a tiny percentage of adults with lower back pain due to a serious underlying condition.
There is strong evidence to suggest that bed rest is not helpful, and can actually worsen your outcomes long-term!
The key to a fast recovery and prevention of relapse is remaining as active as possible and to progressively increase your activity levels.
The good news is that the prognosis for acute lower back pain is excellent. Up to 90% of cases will improve within days to weeks with the right self care.
Below are 5 simple exercises you can try right now for lower back pain relief.
Your symptoms should not intensify as a result of doing the exercise. You should feel a slight stretch/ uncomfortable feeling. However, do not move into pain!
Without forcing the movement, perform each exercise slowly 2-3 times a day for best results. Be sure to breathe throughout the exercises!
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Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain
There are many things that can cause back pain. In fact, activities of everyday life contribute to it: Sitting at a desk at work all day, picking up children, carrying grocery bags With the passage of time, all of this stress takes a toll on the spine.
The problem could also be a result of herniated discs. In laymans terms, our spines are composed of vertebrae, all lined up one on top of the other. In between each vertebrae, theres cartilage to cushion the area between the vertebrae. Cartilage is shaped like a disc hence, the name. As years go by, these discs experience wear and tear, and as they degenerate, a person will experience pain.
In addition, there are other factors that would result in aches and discomfort in the area, such as:
The Lower Back Pain A Widespread Issue That Affects Millions Of People Each Year
Back pain that is lower in the back can be an atypical problem that affects millions of people every year. Although lower back pain can be result of a range of causes, including disc rupture or muscle strain The most frequent cause is bad posture. Our modern lives are sedentary, and many of us spend hours looking at phones or computers which put a lot of strain on the lower back. However, there are a number of lower back pain treatments that can assist in relieving the discomfort and improve your posture. Some of the most effective tips are wearing comfortable , well-padded shoes that offer good support and a comfortable mattress, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing. If youre experiencing lower back pain, talk to your doctor regarding the best options for treating you.
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When Are Diagnostic Tests For Lower Back Pain Necessary
Many patients do not need X-rays in the first few weeks of pain because their pain will end up resolving. Many more do not need CT scans or MRI imaging, which are overly sensitive and often reveal abnormalities not related to the patients pain. These forms of imaging can be extremely useful, however, if a person has chronic or severe pain, and/or neurological symptoms. Blood tests may be ordered if an infection or tumor is suspected.
What Is The Outlook For People With Lower Back Pain
The outlook depends on the cause of pain. Most people with back strains and sprains recover and do not have long-term health issues. But many people will have another episode within a year.
Some people have chronic back pain that doesnt get better after several weeks. Older people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may have symptoms that get worse over time. Surgery and other treatments are effective at helping people with a range of injuries and conditions live pain-free.
What Should I Know About Back Pain
Back pain is a very common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.
The good news is that in most cases it isnt a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament.
As far as possible, its best to continue with your normal everyday activities as soon as you can and to keep moving.
Being active and exercising wont make your back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help you get better. Taking painkillers can help you do this.
What Will This Summary Tell Me
This summary will answer these questions:
- What is low back pain?
- How is low back pain treated?
- Nonmedicine treatments such as heat, exercise, and massage
* Your health care professional may include your primary care doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, bone specialist , nerve specialist , a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist , physical therapist, or other therapist.
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Fractures And Lower Back Pain
are often very difficult pain problems and indicate the possible presence of . In patients with severe osteoporosis, spinal fractures can occur with no early warning and no significant trauma the patient does not have to fall to fracture a vertebrae.
Patients with spinal compression fractures experience spasms and, often, very high pain levels.
In patients with low back pain where the cause is difficult to determine, especially for elderly patients with osteoporosis, a fracture in the sacrum may be the cause of the pain. A standard X-ray or bone scan may not show a sacral fracture. Imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI can often reveal these fractures.
It is very important that patients with acute lumbar compression fractures be tested for osteoporosis. A bone density study is needed, unless the patient has no other osteoporosis risk factors and has had a very high impact fracture. Studies have shown that many patients with fractures in the U.S. are discharged from hospitals with no plans for management of their bone density problems, which then are left to worsen.
Although pain can be very intense, it is best for patients with lumbar fracture to resume activity as soon as possible. This is especially true for elderly patients, who can too easily become weakened, and develop other complications, if mobility is reduced for too long. may be needed for pain control, for as brief a period as possible.
Treating Back Pain At Home
Aside from such severe injuries or arthritis, most lumbar pain is short term and may respond well to home care, especially if its a recent occurrence and you suspect you know how you may have caused it. If the level of pain is mild, here are five things you can try at homebut if pain lingers or gets worse, discontinue your efforts and consult your doctor:
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