When Is Not Helpful
Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a health care provider. The good news is that the pain often goes away on its own, and people usually recover in a week or two. Many people want to stay in bed when their back hurts. For many years, getting bed rest was the normal advice. But current studies recommend no bed rest at all and stress that staying in bed longer than 48 hours not only wont help but it may, in fact, actually delay your recovery. Heres why:
Staying in bed wont help you get better faster.If youre in terrible pain, lying down for a day to help ease the distress may seem like a good idea, but moderating your activities and staying active in a limited way is a more effective way to control your symptoms. Research suggests that if you can find comfortable positions and keep moving, you may not need bed rest at all.Research shows that:
- Lying down longer than a day or two day isnt helpful for relieving back pain.
- People can recover more quickly without any bed rest.
- The sooner you start moving, even a little bit, or return to activities such as walking, the faster you are likely to improve.
Will My Piriformis Ever Heal
The piriformis muscle presses against the sciatic nerve in the presence of piriformis syndrome. The condition can cause numbness or tingling in your hip, butt, or leg. It usually goes away with simple treatments and rest in a few days or weeks.
Donât Stretch Your Piriformis If Itâs Hurting
Unless you have a serious medical condition, you should not engage in the stretching exercises outlined in this article. Avoid activities that aggravate muscle injuries or irritation, as this will help you avoid piriformis syndrome. If you experience pain, you should consult a doctor to rule out any underlying issues.
How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, tests for low back pain may include:
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Mechanical Lower Back Pain
Because it represents 97% of cases, mechanical low back pain deserves to be discussed first. To determine the factors that bring out the pain, the doctor will consider the following causes of mechanical low back pain:
- Spondylolisthesis .
- Osteoarthritis .
- Spinal stenosis .
Low back pain that gets worse with sitting may indicate a herniated lumbar disc . This is because certain positions of the body can change the amount of pressure that an out-of-place disc can press on a nerve. This is one reason we suggest to people with low back pain to periodically get up and stretch or walk around rather than continually stay sitting. Acute onset, that is, pain that comes on suddenly, may suggest a herniated disc or a muscle strain, as opposed to a more gradual onset of pain, which fits more with osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis.
When Will My Lower Back Strain Feel Better
Recovery time depends on how serious your low back strain is. Mild cases may resolve in a couple of days. It can take many weeks for more serious strains. Remember that everyone heals at a different rate.
Once the back pain is gone, your doctor will probably want you to start a regular exercise routine. This will get your back muscles stronger and more limber. It will help you recover, and reduce your odds of low back strain in the future. Your doctor will probably want you to take up low impact sports, like swimming or using a stationary bike.
Whatever you do, don’t rush things. Don’t try to return to your previous level of physical activity until:
- You can move as easily — without stiffness — as you did before your injury.
- You feel no pain when you bend, twist, walk, run, and jump.
If you start pushing yourself before your low back strain is healed, you could end up with chronic back pain and permanent injury.
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What Does A Neurologist Do For Sciatica
During this procedure, a neurosurgeon uses specialized microscopes to remove damaged discs or herniations from the disc. A disc that is impinging on the sciatic nerve may be enough to alleviate the sciatica.
Sciatica: When To See A Neurologist
If you believe you are suffering from sciatica and are experiencing symptoms that cause significant disability, you should seek immediate medical attention. Your neurologistâs diagnosis will allow you to better manage your condition and gain a better understanding of it.
Treating A Pulled Back Muscle In 8 Steps
No matter where a pulled muscle is in the body, the steps to treat it are generally the same. However, its important to talk to a medical professional before treating an injury because symptoms of other injuries, such as disc problems or a broken bone, may resemble strains and sprains. After talking to a professional, try the following steps:3
Apply cold. Cold helps reduce inflammation, which is the primary source of pain in the first few days. The faster you can apply cold to a pulled back muscle, the faster you may reduce pain, help control swelling, and start the healing process. Apply a cold pack for 15-20 minutes as soon as the injury occurs. Take a break of at least 20 minutes between each cold application.
Use compression. Applying compression bandages or using an active compression system may help reduce swelling and edema so the damaged tissues can repair themselves more quickly.
Rest. Right after a muscle strain, it is important to limit your activity level and avoid movements that increase pain. After the initial pain subsides, returning to previous level of activity may help prevent the muscles from growing weak.
Stretch. According to Kojo Hamilton, MD, as you return to activity, gentle stretching exercises may improve tissue healing by bringing more blood flow to the injured area. Applying heat to the area prior to stretching may also be beneficial. Ask a doctor about the right stretches for your condition.
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When To Call A Professional
Contact your doctor if:
- Severe back pain makes it impossible for you to do your normal daily activities.
- Your back pain follows significant trauma.
- Mild back pain gets worse after a few days or persists more than a week or two.
- Back pain is accompanied by weight loss, fever, chills or urinary symptoms.
- You develop sudden weakness, numbness or tingling in a leg.
- You develop numbness in the groin or rectum or difficulty controlling bladder or bowel function.
- You have had cancer previously and you develop persistent back pain.
Forward Head And Neck
If youre wondering what muscles cause neck pain, these are some of the culprits. Forward head posture and shoulders rounded forward are common signs of this set of muscle imbalances.
For every inch your head moves forward out of alignment from your shoulders, your neck effectively carries an additional ten pounds of weight. Forward head and neck postural dysfunction is a frequent cause of neck and upper back pain, not to mention headaches, shoulder pain and more.
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Is Pilates Good For The Low Back Muscles
woman doing advanced Pilates
Pilates is a beneficial form of exercise for increasing control and strength in the lower back muscles. Pilates engages core muscles and increases strength throughout the movements of the body. As with yoga, in Pilates, you should start slow and work up to increase difficulty levels. A skilled instructor is helpful when beginning a Pilates program. If you have low back pain, consulting a physical therapist may be helpful before beginning a Pilates program.
Pulled Back Muscle Treatment
Learn about muscle anatomy and the symptoms of lower back strain. WatchLower Back Strain Video
Aggressive chiropractic manipulation should be avoided at the onset of treatment. It is best to restore health in a very gradual and dedicated process, watching for worsening symptoms versus improvement.
Ultimately, the severity of a muscle injury will determine what kind of treatment is necessary.
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When To See A Doctor
If the pain has not eased after 12 weeks, a person should see a doctor.
In some circumstances, a person may need to go to the emergency department or call 911. It is important to seek medical help if:
- a person hears a crack when they sustain the injury
- the injured part of the back is numb, discolored, or cold to the touch
- sit in a chair with lumbar support
The following tips may also be beneficial:
Did I Pull A Lower Back Muscle How Do You Treat A Pulled Muscle In The Lower Back
True muscle strains are rare. Most muscle pain in the lower back is due to muscle spasms from other Lumbar spine injuries. Disk injuries are more likely. If there is muscular pain, consider trying a warm shower or even an ice pack initially. Gentle movement exercises may help, such as lying on the back, bending both knees, and gently rotating them together to each side, without pushing into pain. Start with 5 to 10 reps. Gentle yoga may be helpful once the acute symptoms improve. Modalities such as ice or heat can certainly stop the back muscles from going into a spasm.
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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
When Should You Get Back Pain Checked Out
If your back pain lasts more than two weeks and keeps you from participating in normal, daily activities, see your family doctor. If your pain is severe, you should see a doctor.
If you have a viral infection, you should seek urgent medical care. below)
- Severe pain in your lower back
- A change in bowel or bladder control
- Difficulty swallowing
or legs the symptoms of a spinal cord injury such as numbness or tingling in the hands or feet weakness in one or both legs loss of feeling in both arms or one leg
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Lower Back Pain And Cancer
Cancer involving the lumbar spine is not a common cause of back pain. However, in people who have a prior history of cancer, for example, in the breast or prostate, or who have weight loss or loss of appetite along with back pain cancer needs to be considered.
Night pain can be a clue to cancer in the spine. A benign tumor called osteoid osteoma, which most often affects young people, causes pain that tends to respond well to aspirin. Multiple myeloma is a malignancy that occurs when the plasma cells in the bone marrow begin spreading uncontrollably. It is most common in older people, and can cause pain in many parts of the spine. When tumor or infection are suspected, blood tests may be ordered, including a CBC , sedimentation rate , and protein electrophoresis .
Symptoms Of A Pulled Back Muscle
Symptoms of a pulled back muscle depend on where the injury is. The spine is divided into three major sections: the neck, upper back and shoulders, and lower back.
For a pulled muscle in the neck, you might experience:3
- Pain in the neck and upper back area
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain radiating to the shoulders or arms
Pulled muscles in the shoulders and upper back may cause:
- Pain in the area between the spine and shoulder blade
- Muscle spasms in the upper back
- Knots and tightness in the upper back and shoulders
- Pain when moving the shoulders
In lower back strain injuries, many people experience symptoms such as:3
- Aching and stiffness in lower back muscles
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Pain that radiates to the hips and legs
- Limited range of motion
- Muscle spasms in lower back area
- Pain when sitting, standing, or walking
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Sciatica And Piriformis Syndrome: Causes Of Lower Back And Leg Pain
Sciatica and piriformis syndrome are two conditions that can cause pain in the lower back and legs. Sciatica is caused by a pinched nerve in the spine, and piriformis syndrome is caused by a muscle spasm in the buttocks. Both conditions can be treated by a doctor who specializes in pain management.
A sciatica diagnosis reveals that the condition is more severe than the typical back and leg pain. When an injured or inflamed sciatic nerve causes this condition, it is referred to as sciatica. Pregnant women may experience sciatica as well as one-time injuries or pregnancy-related issues. After a few days of simple at-home care, it is common for sciatica to go away in many mild cases. With ice packs, you can help relieve early symptoms by using them for up to 20 minutes at a time. If you lose all sensation or movement in your leg, you should seek immediate medical attention. Many people can reduce their pain by receiving regular chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy.
People who have sciatica frequently seek medical attention from a neurologist. X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging are likely to be used in diagnosing a neurologist. The first step in developing a treatment plan for orthopedics is to look for non-invasive options. Our team of spinal professionals at AICA Marietta is dedicated to your spinal health.
Because of its prevalence, this condition is relatively common. According to estimates, about 5% of cases of sciatica are caused by piriformis syndrome.
Exercise To Loosen Muscles
Although it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when lower back pain is causing you grief, the right kind of movement can help eliminate the discomfort. Its always important to consult your physician before you engage in exercise when you have pain, but this conversation is well worth having if youre suffering.
First, you should keep in mind that not all exercise is beneficial in combating back pain. Try to avoid toe-touch exercises and sit-ups, which may add to the stress on your spine instead of relieving it. Leg lifts are another exercise to stay away from when you are hurting. If your core is not strong, leg lifts could be too demanding on your body if youre already experiencing pain.
Several types of exercises can be useful when you need to relieve back pain. Partial crunches can aid in strengthening your core without applying too much pressure to the area. Slow and controlled wall-sit exercises may also be useful. Other repetitions to consider include bringing each knee to the chest in succession, pelvic tilts, and swimming.
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When & How To Seek Medical Care
If low back pain lasts for longer than one to two weeks, seek medical care. First, make an appointment with your primary care physician.
Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present in addition to back pain:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Unexplained fever
- Loss of control of your bowels or bladder
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.
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Common Causes Of Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back painis usually age-related, but can also result from a prior injury. The mostcommon causes include:
- Arthritis of the spinethe gradual thinning of the cartilage inside the spine
- Spinal stenosisnarrowing of the spinal canal that may lead to nerve pain
- Disc problems, such as a herniated or bulging disc
- Myofascial pain syndromeunexplained muscle pain and tenderness
In some cases, its difficult to pinpoint the cause of chronic back pain.If your doctor has exhausted all diagnostic options, its time to seek asecond opinion from a back pain specialist, recommends Nava. Itsimportant not to make rushed decisions or undergo extensive medicalprocedures until the origin of the pain is found. Not only may they nothelp they could make the pain worse, warns Nava.
If the source of the pain is not known or cant be treated, your bestoption may be to work with your doctor on reducing the flare-ups and makingthe pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments.
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.