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What To Do If You Have Lower Back Pain

Herniated Disk In The Lower Back

Lower back pain treatment: What type of lower back pain do you have?

The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, moderate back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that gets worse when sitting, leg weakness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Back Pain And Pregnancy

Back pain during each trimester of your pregnancy can be common, and several causes are to blame. However, you should be sure to talk with your doctor about what youre experiencing, in case the pain may be part of a bigger problem.

Here are a few reasons why you may be experiencing back pain during pregnancy:

Shifting center of gravity

As your baby grows, the center of your bodys gravity moves outward. Your spine and back arch to make up for the change in balance. This put extra stress on the lower lumbar spine.

Weight gain

Weight gain can be a healthy part of pregnancy, but even the little bit youre likely to gain during those 9 months can put more stress on your back and core muscles.

Hormones

As your body prepares to deliver the baby, it releases hormones that loosen the ligaments that stabilize your pelvis and lumbar spine. These same hormones can cause the bones in your spine to shift, which may lead to discomfort and pain.

More Advanced Care Options

Surgery When other therapies fail, surgery may be considered to relieve pain caused by worsening nerve damage, serious musculoskeletal injuries, or nerve compression. Specific surgeries are selected for specific conditions/indications. However, surgery is not always successful. It may be months following surgery before the person is fully healed and there may be permanent loss of flexibility. Surgical options include:

Implanted nerve stimulators

  • Spinal cord stimulation uses low-voltage electrical impulses from a small implanted device that is connected to a wire that runs along the spinal cord. The impulses are designed to block pain signals that are normally sent to the brain.
  • Dorsal root ganglion stimulation also involves electrical signals sent along a wire connected to a small device that is implanted into the lower back. It specifically targets the nerve fibers that transmit pain signals. The impulses are designed to replace pain signals with a less painful numbing or tingling sensation.
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation also uses a small implanted device and an electrode to generate and send electrical pulses that create a tingling sensation to provide pain relief.

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Tips To Strengthen Your Back

Flexion and extension exercises are commonly used to prevent low back pain. Be sure to review with the doctor any program you are considering.

Easy Low Back Exercises

  • Ankle Pumps: Lie on your back and move ankles up and down.
  • Heel Slides: Lie on your back and bend then straighten the knees one at a time.
  • Wall Squats: With your back flat against a wall, sit like you would in a chair with your knees lined up over your ankles. Gently press against the wall, keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Hold for five seconds.
  • Single Knee to Chest Stretch: Lying down with back flat, pull your knee into the chest.

Symptoms Of Low Back Pain

Lower Back Pain: 10 Causes of Lower Back Pain

These might range from a dull ache to a stabbing or shooting sensation. The pain may make it hard to move or stand up straight. Pain that comes on suddenly is âacute.â It might happen during sports or heavy lifting. Pain that lasts more than 3 months is considered âchronic.â If your pain is not better within 72 hours, you should consult a doctor.

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Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain And 5 Ways To Treat It

Wondering why your back hurts? It might be simpler than you think.

An estimated 29 percent of Americans suffer from back pain each year, yet the cause of back pain remains a mystery for many people.

That’s likely due in part to the fact that back pain has so many potential underlying causes, but it’s also because many people would rather pop over-the-counter pain pills instead of work to identify the actual cause of their back pain. And that’s a shame, because often back pain can be fixed with some simple efforts.

If you’ve been struggling with back pain, the solution might be simpler than you think. Learn how to get rid of back pain through stretching, exercise and other drug-free treatments.

Our Health & Wellness newsletter puts the best products, updates and advice in your inbox.

Hot Or Cold Therapy For Low Back Pain

Hot or cold packs may help ease pain and reduce symptoms. The soothing relief from heat, or the dulling relief from a cold pack, is only temporary and will not treat more serious causes of back pain. However, they may provide greater mobility for people with acute, subacute, or chronic pain, allowing them to get up and get moving.

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Less Common Causes Of Low Back Pain

Inflammation of the joints of the spine sometimes causes back pain. Osteoarthritis is the common form of arthritis and usually occurs in older people. Ankylosing spondylitis is another form of arthritis that can occur in young adults and which causes pain and stiffness in the lower back. Rheumatoid arthritis may affect the spine but you are likely to have other joints affected too.

Various uncommon bone disorders, tumours, infection and pressure from structures near to the spine occasionally cause low back pain .

The rest of this leaflet is mainly about nonspecific low back pain – the common type of low back pain.

Understanding The Lower Back

3 Types of Lower back pain (What Do You Have?)

The lower back is also called the lumbosacral area of the back. It is the part of the back between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the legs.

Most of the lower back is made up from muscles that attach to, and surround, the spine. The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The discs between the vertebrae are a combination of a strong fibrous outer layer and a softer, gel-like centre. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible.

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How Is Back Pain Diagnosed

Most people who develop low back pain that comes on suddenly have nonspecific low back pain. If there are no other associated symptoms and the pain is not too bad, many people are confident to just ‘get on with it’ and treat it themselves – and indeed most get better quickly. However, if in doubt, see your doctor for a check-over and advice.

A doctor will usually want to ask questions about your symptoms and to examine you. Basically, the symptoms are usually as described above, with no other worrying symptoms to suggest anything serious or another cause of back pain . The examination by a doctor will not detect anything to suggest a more serious cause of back pain. Therefore, a doctor can usually be confident from his or her assessment that you have nonspecific back pain.

As a general guide, if any of the following occur then it may not be nonspecific low back pain, and there may be a more serious underlying cause. But note: the vast majority of people with low back pain do not have any of the following symptoms or features. They are included here for completeness and as an aid to what to look out for and to tell your doctor should they occur.

  • Symptoms that may indicate cauda equina syndrome. The main ones are, in addition to back pain:
  • Numbness around the back passage – the saddle area.
  • Bladder symptoms such as loss of bladder sensation loss of bladder control, incontinence, loss of sensation when passing urine.
  • Incontinence of stools .
  • If you inject street drugs.
  • The Big Three Signs That You Should Investigate For An Ominous Cause Of Persistent Low Back Pain

    You shouldnt worry about low back pain until three conditions have been met:

  • its been bothering you for more than about 6 weeks19
  • its severe and/or not improving, or actually getting worse
  • there is at least one other red flag
  • The presence of the big three does not confirm that something horrible is going on. It only means that you need to check carefully.

    Andy Whitfield as Spartacus

    At his physical peak, not long before getting sick. The first sign of his cancer was steadily worsening back pain. He may have already been in pain at this time.

    The story of actor Andy Whitfield is a disturbing and educational example of a case that met these conditions for sure the first two, and probably the third as well if we knew the details. Whitfield was the star of the hit TV show Spartacus . The first sign of the cancer that killed him in 2011 was steadily worsening back pain. Its always hard to diagnose a cancer that starts this way, but Whitfield was in the middle of intense physical training to look the part of historys most famous gladiator. Back pain didnt seem unusual at first, and some other symptoms may have been obscured. Weight loss could have even seemed like a training victory at first! It was many long months before he was diagnosed not until the back pain was severe and constant. A scan finally revealed a large tumour pressing against his spine.

    Is back pain a symptom of COVID-19?

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    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.

    What Research Is Being Done

    DO YOU HAVE BACK PAIN?

    The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.

    As a primary supporter of research on pain and pain mechanisms, NINDS is a member of the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to promote collaboration among the many NIH Institutes and Centers with research programs and activities addressing pain. On an even broader scale, NIH participates in the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that coordinates research across other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

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    What Happens When I Visit A Back Doctor

    We gather a full medical history of your back problems and perform detailed physical examinations, said Dr. Guo. That includes checking for tenderness, spine range of motion, strength, sensation, and reflexes. Depending on your symptoms, we may perform provocative tests to find out what triggers your pain. We may order imaging studies, such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. We may order electromyography and a nerve conduction study, which assess whether you have muscle and/or nerve problems that may cause your symptoms. We use all the information to help identify the cause of your back pain and associated symptoms, and provide the most appropriate treatments for you.

    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.

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    How Can You Prevent Lower Back Pain

    While you cant stop aging or change your genetic makeup, lifestyle changes can help manage and prevent lower back pain. Having a healthy lifestyle may make you less likely to suffer an accidental injury, too.

    Improve your physical fitness. People who are not physically fit are more likely to develop lower back pain because strong core muscles help support the lower back.

    Stay active. People who lead sedentary lives may be more likely to injure themselves when they do exert themselves. As far as back health is concerned, its better to do a smaller amount of physical activity most days of the week than to sit all week and over-exert yourself on the weekends.

    Lose weight if necessary. The more you weigh, the more pressure you have on your lumbar vertebrae. Being overweight or obese can put stress on the back and lead to lower back pain.

    Lift heavy objects the right way. Be sure to squat while lifting so that your hips and knees do much of the work. Keep the load close to your chest while you lift.

    Your legs, not your lower back, should be the main driver when you’re lifting something heavy.Make your workspace as ergonomic as possible. If you sit at a desk, make sure your chair has plenty of low-back support and your hips are at a right angle to the floor.

    Dont use tobacco products. In addition to all the other health problems tobacco use causes, it can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.

    Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain

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    There are three major lifestyle factors that may affect your chances of developing lower back pain:

    • Multiple studies have established a link between smoking and lower back pain. Smoking raises inflammation inside the body and hinders the body from healing itself.
    • Obesity is also associated with several types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. In people with high body mass index , the stress on the spine increases, contributing to even more wear and tear.
    • Your level of physical activity can also play a role in your lower back health. While a sedentary lifestyle could increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so can excessive or strenuous physical activity. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ideal level of physical activity.

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    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 spondyloarthropathies 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:

    What Causes Lumbar Inflammation

    There could be many reasons for inflammation in your lower back:

    But, for practical purposes, it doesnt really matter why your lower back is inflamed.

    inflammation is inflammation, no matter where its located and what causes it

    Natural inflammation-reducing methods can be very effective and you can eliminate your lower back pain at home, by yourself, without depending on pills and without any medical bills.

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    Exercising With Back Pain

    As with any injury, you need to be careful and know your limits.

    If your back pain symptoms persist for a few weeks, are severe, and dont improve with rest, the pain spreads down your legs, the pain causes weakness or numbness in your legs, or is accompanied with unexplained weight loss, contact your doctor .

    That being said, a certain type of exercise is tougher on your back health than others.

    They can cause more strain, tightness, create discomfort and lead to even more pain.

    Naturally, this means if you are experiencing acute low back pain, youll want to avoid those kinds of exercises.

    Here are 7 exercises to avoid and an alternative to try instead!

    Heat And Cold Therapy

    What to Do If You Have Lower Back Pain Trouble When Walking

    For temporary relief from back pain, try using a heating pad or cold compress. Cold reduces inflammation and constricts blood flow, while heat relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels. Both can treat back pain depending on the cause. A good rule of thumb to remember is that heat works best for soreness and cold works best for injuries.

    TENS units like the Omron Avail can temporarily relieve chronic pain.

    Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a type of therapy that stimulates nerves at pain sites. Using electrodes placed on your skin, a TENS device emits gentle electric signals that mask or intercept the pain signals your body sends to your brain.

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