Do Lumbar Supports Work
Research into lumbar supports yields mixed results.
A investigated the effects of flexible lumbar supports on lower back pain in assembly-line workers. It found no significant difference in reported pain measures between participants in the experimental group versus the placebo group.
However, a separate suggests that wearing flexible lumbar support may slightly decrease back pain. The study authors found that participants who wore an abdominal belt reported less pain after 1 week compared with participants who did not wear the belt.
Signs That Its Time To Call A Doctor For Your Back Pain
Most people have experienced back pain at some point in their lives. It’s actually the leading cause of disability worldwide and the most common reason people call out of work. Back pain can come in many different forms, ranging from a dull ache that lasts only a few days to severe pain that lasts for weeks.
Depending on the intensity of the pain, there are many treatments you can try at home to help. But how do you know when it’s time to stop home remedies and see a physician?
If any of the following applies to your back pain, then it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
When Should I Wear A Back Support Belt
A back support belt is not designed for long-term or all-day use. A person who wears a back support belt too frequently can actually weaken their core muscles, or cause them to atrophy, which could worsen their back problems. Spending too much time in a back support belt can irritate the skin, causing chafing or sores.
It can be helpful to wear a back support belt when doing strenuous activities or anything a person knows might make their back hurt. It is best to limit use of a back support belt to a few hours a day, for a few days, or under the guidance of a physician.
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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.
How Is Upper Back Pain Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your medical history, activity level and symptoms. They will also ask you questions about your pain. These questions may include:
- When did the pain start?
- Where does the pain hurt the most?
- Does anything you do make the pain feel better?
- Does anything you do make the pain feel worse?
Your healthcare provider may do a physical exam. They may have you lift or bend your legs to see how moving affects your pain. Your healthcare provider may test your muscle strength and reflexes.
Depending on what your healthcare provider finds, they may order additional tests. These tests may include:
- Spine X-ray: Uses radiation to produce images of the bones in your spine.
- Magnetic resonance imaging scan: Uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of your bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues in your spine.
- Computed tomography scan: Uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of the bones and soft tissues in the spine.
- Electromyography : Tests the nerves and muscles in your spine and checks for nerve damage , which can cause tingling or numbness in your legs.
- Blood test: Can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain.
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Can Back Pain Lead To Complications
The good news is that most people recover from back pain within a few weeks.1 See your doctor if you experience additional symptoms, such as:
- loss of bowel and/or bladder control
- severe pain that gets worse instead of better over time
- problems with passing urine or bowel movements
- numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation in your legs, back or elsewhere
- unexplained weight loss
- back redness or swelling
For some people, back pain becomes an ongoing problem. Around 1 in every 2 people who experience back pain will experience it again, and for 1 in 5 people, back pain may last beyond 8 to 12 weeks. Possible complications that result from persistent, long-term back pain include:
- dependence on strong pain medicines, such as opioids
- reduced quality of life
- more difficulty finding work and keeping active
See your healthcare professional if your back pain is unresolved and limits your movement and activities. A health care professional can help you find ways to manage your pain and regain a better quality of life.
Muscle Strain And Ligament Sprain
A low back sprain or strain can happen suddenly, or can develop slowly over time from repetitive movements.
- Strains occur when a muscle is stretched too far and tears, damaging the muscle itself.
- Sprains happen when over-stretching and tearing affects ligaments, which connect the bones together.
For practical purposes, it does not matter whether the muscle or ligament is damaged, as the symptoms and treatment are the same.
Common causes of sprain and strain include:
- Lifting a heavy object, or twisting the spine while lifting
- Sudden movements that place too much stress on the low back, such as a fall
- Poor posture over time
- Sports injuries, especially in sports that involve twisting or large forces of impact
While sprains and strains do not sound serious and do not typically cause long-lasting pain, the acute pain can be quite severe.
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Who Gets Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain however, several factors increase your risk. Risk factors increase your chance of developing back pain and can include:
- Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. For example, weak back and stomach muscles may not properly support the spine. Back pain is also more likely if you exercise too strenuously after being inactive for a while.
- Weight gain: A diet high in calories and fat, combined with an inactive lifestyle, can lead to obesity. This can put stress on the back.
- Job-related risk factors: Jobs that require heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or twisting can injure the back. A desk job may also play a role, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in an uncomfortable chair.
- Age: Back pain becomes more common with age, particularly after the age of 45.
- Heredity: Genetics play a role in some disorders that cause back pain.
Why You Shouldnt Ignore Lower Back Pain
The jarring sensations in your lower back may be fleeting and simply a nuisance. But sufferers of chronic back pain should not ignore their symptoms. Occasional back pain may indicate a much larger issue. Our trained professionals can analyze back pain with X-ray equipment, computed tomography , resonance imaging or an electromyogram .
Back and neck problems making daily life painful? Spine INA should be your first choice with our expertise in pain management options. Learn more:
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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.
How Will My Provider Determine The Cause Of Flank Pain
Your provider will examine you and gently feel the sensitive area. They will ask you where you feel pain and if it gets better or worse with certain activities. Tell them about any symptoms youre having in addition to flank pain.
Your provider may order several tests to look for signs of kidney stones, infection, injuries or disease. These tests include:
- Basic metabolic panel to be sure your kidney function remains normal and that there is no obstruction from a kidney stone.
- Complete blood test and urine tests, to see how your organs are working, check for infection and detect signs of cancer and other disease.
- CT scan or ultrasound, to look for kidney stones and check their size and shape.
- Cystoscopy, to diagnose problems in the lower urinary tract.
- Spine X-ray or MRI, to see detailed images of injuries or abnormalities in your spine.
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When Can I Get Back To My Normal Activities
Talk to your healthcare provider about a timeline regarding when you can get back to daily activities. You may need to take time off work to rest, or you may be able to go as long as you follow your providers recommended treatments. Dont guess about when youll be ready confirm it with your provider.
Constipation And Back Pain: Is There A Link
Digital composite of Highlighted spine of woman with back pain
When you suffer from constipation, it can lead to the intestines swelling up due to unpassed fecal matter.
This situation can cause bloating and cause your stomach to look bigger than normal. Plus, when your intestines swell like this, it can lead to discomfort and pain in your lower back.
This type of pain is usually a dull aching kind of pain that we classify as “general back pain.”
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How Does My Back Work
To understand your back pain, its helpful to know a little about how your back works.
Your back is a complex structure that provides support for your pelvis, legs, ribcage, arms and skull. The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are stacked together to form a loose S-shaped column.
Each vertebra is cushioned by spongy tissue called intervertebral discs. These discs act as shock absorbers and give your spine its flexibility. Vertebrae are joined by pairs of small joints known as facet joints. A mesh of connective tissue called ligaments holds the spine together.
Complex layers of muscle provide structural support and allow you to move. Your spinal cord runs through the centre of the vertebral column and connects your brain to the rest of your body.
When To Call A Doctor
Consult your doctor if you have back pain thats intense, worrisome, or that doesnt go away with self-care measures. Its also important to call your doctor if your lower back pain is making it hard for you to go about your daily activities.
Most cases of lower back pain on the right side are not medical emergencies. However, dont hesitate to get immediate medical help if you experience back pain thats accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- loss of bladder or bowel function
- sudden, severe pain
- weakness or loss of sensation in your lower body
- pain accompanied by fever, clammy skin, a rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, or any other concerning symptoms
The appropriate treatment for lower back pain emergencies depends on the cause. If the source of the pain isnt obvious, you may need one or more of the following screenings to determine the right course of action:
- an MRI to check your spinal cord, nerve roots, and other soft tissue
- an X-ray to look at your spine and other joints for signs of fracture or other concerns
- blood tests to check for markers of inflammation
If nerve or muscle problems are the cause of lower back on the right, epidural injections of corticosteroids may be necessary if the pain and loss of mobility and function are severe.
If appendicitis is diagnosed and it cant be managed by antibiotics, then emergency surgery to remove the appendix may be necessary.
- nerve compression in your spine
- disc degeneration
- an abdominal aortic aneurysm
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Best Back Brace For Active Lifestyles: Flexguard Back Support
- List price: around $25
- Sizes: extra small, small/medium, large, XL
- Advantage: may be more suitable for long periods of wear
- Disadvantage: some reviewers state it does not give enough shoulder support
This back support provides a combination of posture correction and lumbar support. The cushioned shoulder straps straighten the back, while the supportive waistband provides compression on the lower back.
Its sleek and discreet design allows users to wear it under clothing. It has flexible and breathable fabric to prevent irritation and itchiness when moving and wearing it for long periods. This may make it suitable for people with active lifestyles.
This brace has the following features and specifications:
Can I Prevent Neck And Back Pain
The following may help to prevent back and neck pain:
Practice correct lifting techniques: avoid heavy lifting when you do lift something, bend your legs, keep your back straight, and then slowly lift your body and the object.
Properly use telephones, computers, and other equipment.
Maintain correct posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping.
Exercise regularly. Learn specific back-strengthening exercises to keep your back muscles strong. Warm up with stretching exercises before doing back exercises.
Do exercises that improve your balance.
Reduce emotional stress, which may cause muscle tension.
Make sure you have enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet.
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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.
Causes Of Chronic Lower Back Pain
Pain is considered chronic once it lasts for more than three months and exceeds the bodys natural healing process. Chronic pain in the low back often involves a disc problem, a joint problem, and/or an irritated nerve root. Common causes include:
Lumbar herniated disc. The jelly-like center of a lumbar disc can break through the tough outer layer and irritate a nearby nerve root. The herniated portion of the disc is full of proteins that cause inflammation when they reach a nerve root, and inflammation, as well as nerve compression, cause nerve root pain. The disc wall is also richly supplied by nerve fibers, and a tear through the wall can cause severe pain.
Degenerative disc disease. At birth, intervertebral discs are full of water and at their healthiest. As people age over time, discs lose hydration and wear down. As the disc loses hydration, it cannot resist forces as well, and transfers force to the disc wall that may develop tears and cause pain or weakening that can lead to a herniation. The disc can also collapse and contribute to stenosis.
Facet joint dysfunction. There are two facet joints behind each disc at each motion segment in the lumbar spine. These joints have cartilage between the bones and are surrounded by a capsular ligament, which is richly innervated by nerves. These joints can be painful by themselves, or in conjunction with disc pain.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About My Back Pain
See your provider and get treatment soon so that you dont have to suffer from back pain. Some of the questions you may want to ask them include:
- Whats causing my back pain?
- Is there a name for my type of back pain?
- Will my pain go away on its own?
- Whats my best treatment option?
- What can I do at home to help treat my pain?
- Do I need to see a specialist?
- Can I work/go about my usual activities?
- How can I prevent the back pain from coming back?
Treatment Options For Lower Back Pain
If you see a physiotherapist or GP for lower back pain, they will probably encourage you to try the self-help measures outlined above first. They can also advise you on what exercises you can do to help your back, or may refer you to a group exercise programme. But if your pain doesnt improve, they may be able to recommend other options you can try. They can also refer you to a specialist if necessary.
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You’ve Been In Pain For Over A Week
Most back pain will subside after a few days, but if you’ve been experiencing pain for over a week, then it’s time to call a doctor. Your doctor will perform any examinations or tests required to help get to the bottom of your pain before it could become a bigger problem. As is the case with many health conditions, prevention and addressing problems early is key.