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What To Do When You Injure Your Lower Back

Stretches And Exercises For A Pinched Nerve In The Back

How to Fix Lower Back Pain off to the Side

Always discuss any stretches and exercises you may be considering with your doctor before you try them. You want to make sure you dont worsen your symptoms or do anything that causes more pain.

Use a yoga mat, towel, or carpet to lie on when engaging in these stretches. You should do two to three repetitions of these stretches each time, and make sure to take deep breaths while stretching.

How Can Back Sprains And Strains Be Prevented

It is not possible to prevent all back injuries, but you can take some steps to help lower the risk of a sprain or strain:

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to keep your bones and muscles strong.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts added stress on the structures of the lower back.
  • Exercise regularly, including stretching, to keep your joints flexible and your muscles in good condition.
  • Practice safety measures to help prevent falls, such as wearing shoes that fit properly, and keeping stairs and walkways free of clutter.
  • Use good body mechanics when sitting, standing and lifting. For example, try to keep your back straight and your shoulders back. When sitting, keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Dont over-reach, and avoid twisting movements. When lifting, bend your knees and use your strong leg muscles to help balance the load.
  • Stop smoking. Nicotine interferes with blood flow to the muscles.

When Should I See My Doctor

Apart from the signs of a serious back injury, you should see your doctor if:

  • your problems have not improved at all within a few days
  • your problems have not improved completely within 6 weeks

Your doctor may be able to help you manage any pain and may refer you for physiotherapy or other investigations.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.

Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.

Other symptoms of lower back pain include:

  • Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
  • Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
  • Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.

Dissipate Stressors During Everyday Activities

DO YOU HAVE BACK PAIN?

Even small amounts of stressing on the intricate structures in your lower back can add up and lead to degeneration and pain over time. Here are recommendations on how to reduce everyday stresses to concentrate on your lower back5:

  • Opening a door. While opening a door, stand straight in front of the doorâs handle and pull it perpendicular to your body. Avoid standing on the side of the handle and twisting your trunk while opening the door, which may injure your spinal ligaments.
  • Using a vacuum cleaner. While vacuuming, hold the vacuum cleaner in front of your body with both hands and use small arm movements while cleaning. Holding the vacuum to the side of your body with just one hand results in large arm movements and requires more twisting torque forces on your lower spine.
  • Shoveling snow or while gardening. While shoveling, rest one arm on your thigh while slightly bending the knees. This technique helps prevent large arm movements and prolonged stooping, which significantly loads your lower back.

Using spine-sparing principles such as these on a daily basis helps prevent chronic injury to the tissues.

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Types Of Back Pain After A Fall

Nearly 22,000 people visit the ER every day after having a bad fall, and those falls can create several different types of injuries:

  • Sprains & Strains Occur when ligaments and tendons are stretched or torn from an impact, bone displacement, or tissue tear
  • Tailbone Injuries Occur when direct impact from a fall causes pain, inflammation, or tenderness at the bottom of the spine
  • Discogenic Pain Occurs when an abrupt landing fractures, herniates, or dislocates the vertebrae and/or discs in the spine
  • Spinal CordInjuries Occur when the abrupt trauma is so powerful that it impacts the spinal cord, causing potentially permanent damage

When You Should Go To The Er For Back Pain

If your back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, head to your closest emergency room because you could be dealing with a more serious condition or injury:

  • Sudden spike in pain, discomfort, weakness or numbness
  • Loss of bladder function
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • The pain results from a fall or severe blow to your back

If you experience any of these symptoms, its a good idea to talk to your doctor so you can determine next steps for managing pain.

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Types Of Lower Back Strain

There are two common types of soft tissue injuries in the low back:

  • Muscle strain occurs when fibers in a muscle begin to tear from being overstretched or overused .
  • Lumbar sprain occurs when ligaments are overstretched or torn. Ligaments are tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones together.

A specific diagnosis of ligament sprain or muscle strain is usually not needed, as both have almost identical symptoms and receive the same treatment. This article refers mainly to lower back muscle strains, but applies to sprains or other soft tissues injuries as well.

Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather

How to Fix Your Lower Back Pain for Good

If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.

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Stop Trying Passive Treatments

Passive treatments like heat, ice or ultrasound may feel good, but their effect is usually only temporary. Most research indicates that active self-care exercise and postural correction is an effective remedy for low back pain.

A visit to your physical therapist can help determine which exercises are best for your specific condition.

Is My Back Weak

Weak back and especially core and abdomen muscles will be unable to support the back sufficiently leading to pain and tiredness.

Symptoms of a weak back include pain, tiredness, and stiffness in the lower back, which gets worse during the day, especially if you are standing for a long period of time as well as pain in the lower back after lifting.

A weak back can give pain in the lumbar region of the back. It is caused by the muscles in the back and abdomen not being strong enough to do their job of supporting the spine properly. Poor posture is also a contributory factor putting more strain on back muscles than is necessary. Back strengthening exercises, core strengthening, pilates, and improving posture are all options for improving back strength.

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How Is Lumbar Strain Diagnosed

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for low back pain may include the following. However, during many initial assessments and exams, specialized tests aren’t usually recommended.

  • X-ray. A diagnostic test that produces images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Computed tomography scan . This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. A CT scan shows detailed images of bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging . A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
  • Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
  • Electromyogram . A test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.

Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be

Can Back Pain Be Caused by Sitting?

Do you have lower back pain? You are not alone. Anyone can experience lower back pain at any time, even if you dont have a prior injury or any of the risk factors. It is not always serious and can often get better on its own. But in some cases pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt right.

Learn more about lower back pain and what causes it from rehabilitation physician Akhil Chhatre, M.D., who specializes in back pain in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Serious Back Injury

Severe back injuries include fractures , wounds, extensive bruising and damage to your spinal cord and internal organs.

Any of the following symptoms could indicate a severe back injury. You should see a doctor right away if you have:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • problems with urinating or passing stool
  • numbness or pins and needles to the arms, legs, hands or feet
  • fever
  • paralysis
  • blood in the urine

Seek medical assistance immediately by calling an ambulance on triple zero . Do not move the person unless they are in danger and advise the person to not move their back. Support their head, neck and spine and prevent twisting or bending movements.

Stop Listening To Back Pain Horror Stories

Stop listening to other peoples horror stories. You know the scenario: You are bent over in obvious pain, waiting to see the healthcare provider, and the person next to you tells you a 10-minute tale of how their Uncle Gordon had low back pain that required injections and surgery. But the pain still didnt go away.

Stop listening to these terrible stories. Most low back pain is short-lived and can be managed quite effectively with exercise and postural correction. Of course, some low back conditions are serious and require surgery, but that is a conversation you should have with your healthcare provider, not the guy in the waiting room.

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Left Side Low Back Pain

Many people experience muscle pain on only one side of their back. This can be due to compensating for a sore joint, like a hip or knee. For example, if one of your hip joints is weak, you may be putting strain on the opposite side of your lower back to make up for that.

However, lower back pain on your left side may also be due to:

If you do pull a lower back muscle, there are several things you can help relieve the swelling and pain.

Keep Moving Keep Stretching

Lower Back Pain? DONâT STRETCH! (What You Should Do Instead)

Scared to get back to your exercise routine? It makes sense. After all, you want to be careful and avoid things thatâll make you feel worse. But did you know that your chronic back pain will improve if you get moving? Exercise keeps your muscles strong and prevents spasms.

Studies show that people who stay active despite low back pain are more flexible than those who play it safe and stay in bed for a week. Exercises that both strengthen and stretch your body help the most. In addition to walking, you might want to swim, ride a stationary bike, or try low-impact aerobics.

Also, research shows that yoga and stretching can ease pain and improve back movement. Scientists divided 228 people whoâd had moderate pain for at least 3 months into three groups. Two groups took a 75-minute yoga or stretching class once a week for 12 weeks. The third group got a book of exercises and lifestyle changes they could make to ease their discomfort.

After 3 months, those who did yoga or intensive stretching fared better than those who didnât. A full 6 months later, they took less medicine for their back pain. They also said their pain was better or completely gone during follow-up appointments.

While exercise is one of the best things you can do to relieve back pain, it shouldnât hurt or make your pain worse. If so, check in with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure youâre doing the right exercise for you.

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Find A Physical Therapist

This can make a big difference, especially if youâve had the pain for more than 4-6 weeks. With techniques like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, heat, and muscle relaxation, these specialists help you get more mobile and flexible.

They can also teach you exercises to do on your own to keep your symptoms from coming back. These can help your posture and keep your back and abdominal muscles healthy.

What If My Pain Continues Long After The Injury Or Trauma

Some injuries or trauma, such as falling down the stairs or slipping, can sometimes lead to pain that persists for several monthschronic pain. When conservative therapies like medication and physical therapy don’t help to relieve the pain, there are other treatment options to consider, such as back surgery and chronic pain therapies. Talk to your doctor if your pain doesnt seem to go away.

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Rest Your Back After Prolonged Bending

When you bend forward for a long time, such as while weeding your garden, certain changes take place in your discs and ligaments. These changes last for a few minutes, during which time, the stability of your spine is reduced. The joints also become temporarily stiff during this period.5

Your lower back is at risk for sustaining a sudden injury after these tissue changes if you exert stress on your back immediately afterward, such as lifting a bag of soil right after youâve been bending and weeding for a long time.5

It is advisable to stand upright for a few minutes and allow the spinal tissues to recover and re-shape after prolonged stooping or bending before attempting strenuous exertions.5

Symptoms Of A Pulled Back Muscle

How To Treat a Back Injury

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
  • Headache

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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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:

Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain

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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Urgent Advice: Ask For An Urgent Gp Appointment Or Get Help From 111 If:

You have back pain and:

  • a high temperature
  • you’ve lost weight without trying to
  • there’s a lump or swelling in your back or your back has changed shape
  • the pain does not improve after resting or is worse at night
  • the pain is made worse when sneezing, coughing or pooing
  • the pain is coming from the top of your back , rather than your lower back

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