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What Lower Back Pain Means

Nonspecific Low Back Pain

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This is the most common type of back pain. The majority of cases of sudden-onset low back pain are classed as nonspecific. This is the type of back pain that most people will have at some point in their lives. It is called nonspecific because it is usually not clear what is actually causing the pain. In other words, there is no specific problem or disease that can be identified as the cause of the pain. The severity of the pain can vary from mild to severe. This type of back pain is discussed further below.

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

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.

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When Surgery Is Necessary

When conservative treatment for low back pain does not provide relief or neurologic symptoms are worsening or severe, surgery may be needed. Candidates for surgery present any of the following:

  • Reasonably good health
  • Back and leg pain limits normal activity or impairs quality of life
  • Progressive neurologic deficits develop, such as leg weakness, numbness or both
  • Loss of normal bowel and bladder functions
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Medication and physical therapy are ineffective

If surgery is recommended, neurosurgeons have a variety of options available to help relieve pressure on the nerve roots. If several nerve roots and discs are causing the pain or if degeneration and instability exist in the spinal column, the neurosurgeon may choose: a minimally invasive approach a more open decompression or fusing the vertebrae together with bone grafts and stabilizing them with instrumentation, including metal plates, screws, rods and cages, depending on the extent of disease. After such surgery, patients may gain restored mobility in the back, including the ability to bend over. In addition, patients may require postoperative physical therapy.

The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against the risks. Although a large percentage of patients with low back pain report significant pain relief after surgery, it is not guaranteed that surgery will help.

Whenback Pain Is Likely Spinal Stenosis

Non

Spinal stenosis is one of themost common causes of spinal pain not related to injury. This narrowing of thespace around the spinal cord puts pressure on the nerves. If you have thefollowing symptoms, spinal stenosis may be to blame:

  • A heavy feeling in the legs, which may lead to trouble walking.
  • Increased pain going downhill.
  • Symptoms that get worse with activity.
  • Relief from the grocery cart position bending forward like youre leaning on a shopping cart.

However, Dr. Khalaf notes howcommon false positives are. Around 21% of asymptomatic people over age 60will show signs of spinal stenosis on an MRI, she says. And sometimes spinalstenosis and peripheral arterial disease co-exist. Thats why you need aphysical exam, and possibly other tests, to get a clear diagnosis.

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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.

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

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What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain In Women

Pain in the lower back area can be acute or chronic . Paying attention to all symptoms you experience at the time can make management significantly easier. Symptoms of lower back pain in females depend on the cause.

As shown above, causes of pain in this area are numerous. In most cases, an affected person experiences a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Dull or aching pain: refers to the pain that remains in the low back area. Pain can be stinging, burning, or sharp and it is usually accompanied by muscle spasms, pain in pelvis and hips, and decreased range of motion
  • Pain feels better when changing positions: patients usually discover that some positions only enhance the pain in lower back while other positions alleviate it
  • Pain gets worse after prolonged sitting: this symptom occurs in most cases of low back pain because sitting puts pressure on discs in your spine
  • Pain is worse after waking up: a vast majority of patients who experience lower back pain report the discomfort is enhanced the first thing in the morning. However, pain decreases after getting up and moving
  • Pain traveling to butt, legs, and feet: in some instances the pain doesnt remain in low back area, but it travels through your buttons down the legs and feet i.e. you experience symptoms of sciatica

If your lower back pain is accompanied by the following symptoms, you should seek immediate care:

  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Reproductive organs

Muscle Strain Or Sprain

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A muscle strain or sprain is the most common cause of low back pain.

A strain is a tear or stretching in a tendon or muscle, while a sprain is a tear or stretching in a ligament.

Sprains and strains usually happen when you twist or lift something improperly, lift something heavy, or overstretch your back muscles.

These injuries can cause swelling, difficulty moving, and back spasms.

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Unexplained Acute Low Back Pain

Unexplained low back pain means chronic pain that comes on gradually, over time, with no specific injury, event, or illness causing it.

Common causes:

  • Prolonged sitting and lack of fitness can weaken back muscles and cause pain from lack of support.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis.
  • Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Certain types of cancer, in rare cases.

Those most susceptible are over 30, overweight and/or pregnant, and not physically fit. Smoking interferes with healing after any sort of stress to the back.

If there are additional symptoms, medical care should be sought: fever, unexplained weight loss, leg weakness or numbness, or trouble urinating.

An exact diagnosis is made through blood tests and through imaging such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI.

Once more serious causes are ruled out, treatment may include medications to ease pain, swelling, and inflammation. Steroid injections are useful in some cases.

Overall, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can be very helpful with easing chronic low back pain.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, back pain

Symptoms that always occur with unexplained acute low back pain:lower back pain

Symptoms that never occur with unexplained acute low back pain:buttocks numbness, thigh numbness, involuntary defecation, fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

Seeking Help For Lower Back Pain

You may not need to seek help from a health professional for lower back pain. Most people find their lower back pain improves by itself within a few weeks. But if there’s no improvement after two to three weeks or the pain is getting worse, seek advice from a GP or physiotherapist. It’s also worth seeking help if your back pain is stopping you from doing normal activities, or if it goes on longer than six weeks.

Physiotherapists are often best placed to help with back pain. In some areas, you may be able to self-refer to a physiotherapist on the NHS, whereas in others you need a referral through your GP. You can also choose to pay for private physiotherapy.

There are some circumstances when you should always see a doctor straightaway for back pain though. These include if:

  • you have numbness or tingling around your bottom or genitals
  • you cant control your bladder or bowels
  • youre unsteady when you walk, or your legs or feet feel weak, you have sudden, severe lower back pain
  • youve been in a major accident, such as a traffic collision or fall
  • you have osteoporosis
  • theres a visible deformity in your back
  • the pain continues when youre lying down or overnight, disturbing your sleep
  • you have a history of cancer or have had a recent bacterial infection
  • you also have a fever, chills or unexplained weight loss

These can be signs of more serious problems.

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What Is The Outlook

Most of us will have a bout of nonspecific low back pain at some point in our lives. The severity can vary. However, it is difficult to quote exact figures as to outlook . This is partly because it is so common and many people with back pain do not consult a doctor. Roughly, it is thought that:

  • Most nonspecific back pains ease and go quickly, usually within a few weeks.
  • In about 4 in 10 cases, the pain has completely gone within four weeks.
  • In about 7 in 10 cases the pain has completely gone within one year.

However, once the pain has eased or gone it is common to have further bouts of pain from time to time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains on and off for quite some time after an initial bad bout of pain. In a small number of cases the pain persists for several months or longer. This is called chronic back pain.

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Lower Back Pain Causes: 8 Reasons For Sudden & Chronic Pain

Managing Lower Back 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…

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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.

What Can Cause Lower Back Pain

Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:

Congenital

  • Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
  • Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.

Injuries

  • Sprains , strains , and spasms
  • Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.

Degenerative problems

  • Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
  • Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
  • Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.

Nerve and spinal cord problems

Non-spine sources

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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.

Rare And Unusual Causes

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Rare and unusual causes of dull lower back pain may include the following.

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm : This is a life-threatening enlargement of the aorta, the main blood vessel supplying blood to the abdomen. It can cause pain throughout the abdomen or lower back. While gradual expansion may cause a dull pain, sudden leakage or rupture is associated with severe, often sharp pain, and signs of shock.
  • Tumors: Cancer may originate in another part of the body and spread to the back. Chronic low back pain can be a symptom of testicular, ovarian, or colon cancer. Tumors can also be benign but otherwise affect structures of the lower back, causing pain.

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

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What Structures Make Up The Back

The lower backwhere most back pain occursincludes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.

Other regions of vertebrate are cervical , thoracic , and sacral and coccygeal segments.

When To See A Specialist For Lower Back Pain

If you’re experiencing lower back pain that’s not responding to rest and self-care, it’s time to consider seeing a spine specialist.

“A spine specialist will likely perform a physical exam as well as one or more imaging scans to diagnose the root cause of your lower back pain. Depending on your diagnosis, he or she will then design a treatment plan aimed at alleviating your pain and preventing it from disrupting the everyday activities you enjoy,” says Dr. Palmer.

Next Steps:

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What Does It Mean If Lower Back Pain Is Shooting Into Legs

Lower back pain can radiate to other parts of the body: up or down from its place of origin. Sometimes lower back pain can be on one side of the back, which is also normal.

If the pain is shooting from the lower back into one or both legs, it could be sciatica , but its not always the case. There are many parts in the lower back that may cause the pain to radiate into the legs, such as facet joints, sacroiliac joints, muscles or inflammation of the bursa.

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