Stretch And Strengthen Your Back
When you no longer have acute pain, you may be ready for gentle strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, and perhaps for some stretching exercises. Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain but also may help you recover faster, prevent reinjury to your back, and reduce the risk of disability from back pain.
Walking is the simplest and perhaps the best exercise for the low back. Your doctor or a physical therapist can recommend more specific exercises to help your back muscles get stronger. These may include a series of simple exercises called core stabilization. The muscles of your , or core, support your spine. Strengthening these muscles can improve your posture, keep your body in better balance, and decrease your chance of injury.
Why Does My Back Hurt
There are various causes of back pain, including muscle pain with or without muscles spasms, disc pain, joint pain, or nerve pain. In most cases, these are not harmful or dangerous.
Muscle pain is the most common acute back pain. The period of acute pain is usually limited and may be treated at home or by primary care doctors. Sometimes, these patients may be referred to doctors who specialize in back pain. Some back pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem, like a fracture, infection, or cancer in the spine, said H. Michael Guo, MD, a Duke physiatrist who specializes in spine care. These patients should be seen by spine doctors. Fortunately, spine infections and cancer are very rare and usually only affect people with special risk factors. Spine fractures are also rare and may be associated with thinned spine bones or injuries.
Are Scans Necessary For Low Back Pain
If you have had back pain for less than 12 weeks X-rays and other scans such as CT and MRI are not required. If after four weeks your sciatica is severe, your doctor may recommend scans.
There are some exceptions to these rules and if your doctor has particular concerns, scans may be requested at an earlier stage. Further information about why scans may or may not needed see the scans and low back pain page.
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Ways To Address Leg Pain
There are a few recommendations for leg pain that can ease the pain and discomfort greatly. If your pain is not related a serious cause, doctors suggest the following methods of pain relief
When To Visit The Er For Back Pain
- When to Visit the ER for Back Pain
While many people tolerate occasional aches and pains in their back, severe back pain may indicate a larger problem. But how do you know if your back pain, or that of a loved one, has reached the point that it requires an emergency department visit?
If at any point you feel that your condition is serious enough that it can’t wait for a visit with your primary care physician, you should visit the emergency department. However, if you’re not sure whether your back pain requires emergency care, consider these guidelines.
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Two Back Pain Situations You Should Take Seriously Right Away No Delay
These two back pain scenarios might be medical emergencies. They do not necessarily mean something horrible is wrong, but its important to make sure.
Isnt it rather obvious that a potential spinal fracture is an emergency?
Youd think so. But consider this story of a motorcycle accident: many years ago, a friend hit a car that had pulled out from a side street. He flew over the car & landed on his head. Bystanders showed their ignorance of spinal fracture by, yikes, carelessly moving him. In fact, his thoracic spine was significantly fractured yet the hospital actually refused to do an X-ray because he had no obvious symptoms of a spinal fracture. Incredible! The next day, a horrified orthopedic surgeon ordered an X-ray immediately, confirming the fracture & quite possibly saved him from paralysis.
Pain + weakness in both legs as symptoms of cauda equina syndrome or not
That said, obviously you should be checked out if you are experiencing true saddle numbness.17 Even if its not CES, any significant malfunction of your plumbing should be taken seriously.
Seeking An Explanation: Will You Get Scans And Tests
If you go to emergency, you may have blood and urine tests, because theyre a good way to rule out anything nasty. They can quickly detect markers that tell doctors if you are fighting an infection, or theres a significant change to any of the systems that keep you alive, and if thats why youre hurting. They are there to rule out an emergency.
People almost always expect that they will get a scan or x-ray. The expectation that these tests will explain your pain, and why its severe today is not correct. Unless youve had a fall, a car accident, or some other trauma, or there are red flag symptoms present, you likely wont get scans, and probably wont gain much from a trip to the ED.
Emergency departments have limited resources, like MRI scanners, and they need to be available for emergencies. If someone comes into the ED with a possible stroke, and the scanner is being used by someone with back pain, theres a 30-60 minute wait for someone who is in a life and death situation.
What scans and x-rays tell doctors about pain is usually minimal. Its unusual for someone with back pain to have something thats found on a scan that changes the treatment and advice we usually give people.
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You Cant Control Your Bladder
Back pain combined with bladder or bowel incontinence, or a feeling of increasing weakness or numbness in the legs, pelvis, and hips, could be serious, says S. Adam Ramin, MD, a Los Angeles-based urologist, medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists, and assistant professor of surgery at City of Hope National Medical Center. These symptoms can indicate a variety of illnesses and conditions that need immediate attention including multiple sclerosis, some types of cancer, nerve damage, or an infection, he says. Another symptom of this type of nerve injury is if you have no feeling when you wipe with toilet paper.
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
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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Emotional Support Is Important
You may have to lean on friends and family when facing difficult situations caused by chronic pain or other problems. Your loved ones can play an important role in supporting your recovery. Your doctor and community also may give you extra support.
Asking for support from others is not always easy. It can be hard to tell someone about your problems. But don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Where you can get support
- Family. Family members can help you cope by giving you comfort and encouragement.
- Friends. Building strong relationships with others is important for your emotional well-being. Helping is a big part of friendship. At times you may be the one who encourages a friend.
- Counseling. Professional counseling can help you cope with situations that interfere with your life and cause stress. Counseling can help you understand and deal with your pain. You can learn ways to stop negative thoughts. See the topic .
How friends and family can help
Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis of the spine the slow degeneration of the spinal joints is the most frequent cause of lower back pain. All of us experience wear and tear as we age, and it is normal for your lower back to start acting up as you get older. As the cartilage breaks down between the spinal joints, surrounding tissues may become inflamed. The inflammation and the thinning of cartilage increase friction in the joints, which may cause pain in the lower back.
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Visit The Spine & Rehab Group Ny For Your Back Pain
Urgent care allows doctors and specialists to monitor patients for illnesses and conditions that are not necessarily life threatening. If you want to be absolutely sure that your back pain is not a cause for concern, visit The Spine & Rehab Group.
Our doctors are board-certified spine and pain specialists with over 15 years of experience. We aim to provide our patients quick, accessible, and excellent care to help them with their pain. Schedule an appointment with us at any of our New York clinics today.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Whether you’re seeing your primary care doctor or sitting in the emergency department, a clinician is going to tell you what they think is the best path for your treatment. They might suggest certain diagnostic tests, medication, or action steps based upon their understanding of the issue. But it’s important to remember that health care is a team effort requiring the participation of the patient: you. MCG experts highly suggest that you ask questions so that you and your clinician can make empowered, informed decisions together. Here are some questions that you can bring with you to your clinic or hospital visit:
- What is this test for?
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- When will I get my results?
- Why do I need this treatment or drug?
- Are there any alternatives?
- Will this medicine interact with any meds I’m currently taking?
- When and how should I take my medicine?
- What should I do if I miss my dose?
- What are the possible complications or side effects?
- What can I do to help manage my care?
- What should I avoid doing to prevent my back pain from getting worse?
- What should I do if my symptoms start?
- Where and when should I get help if I get worse?
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list so if there are any questions that come up for you before, after, or during the appointment, don’t be afraid to ask. Back pain is frustrating, but you don’t have to suffer alone.
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How Can You Prevent Low Back Pain From Returning
After you’ve had low back pain, you’re likely to have it again. But there are some things you can do to help prevent it. And they can help you get better faster if you do have low back pain again.
To help keep your back healthy and avoid further pain:
- Practice good posture when you sit, stand, and walk. “Good posture” generally means your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line.
- Get regular, low-impact exercise. Walk, swim, or ride a stationary bike. Stretch before you exercise.
- Sleep on your side.
- Watch your weight.
- Don’t try to lift things that are too heavy for you. When you must lift, learn .
If you sit or stand for long periods at work:
- Sit or stand up straight, with your shoulders back.
- Make sure your chair fits you and has good back support.
- Take regular breaks to walk around.
If your work involves a lot of bending, reaching, or lifting:
- Talk to your human resources department to see if there are other ways you can do your work.
- Don’t depend on a “back belt” to protect your back.
Other Types Of Back Pain
There are lots of other types of back pain, maybe you’ve lifted something, you’ve got a back strain or a sprain, maybe you’ve got a herniated disc. We do see lots of people with chronic back pain where it flares up. These are all things that could probably be treated through your primary care doctor or even through an urgent care. But in terms of the things that are really serious, those are the things I recommend watching for.
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Back Sprain Or Strain
Symptoms typically include:
- Muscle spasms, cramping, and stiffness.
- Pain in the back and sometimes in the buttock. It may come on quickly or gradually. It most often occurs in episodes. Certain movements make it worse, and doing light activities such as walking makes it feel better. The worst pain usually lasts 48 to 72 hours and may be followed by days or weeks of less severe pain.
Certain Medical Conditions Accompanied By Back Pain May Require An Er Visit
For individuals with the following medical conditions, back pain may indicate a more serious issue. If you are experiencing severe or chronic lower back pain and have any of these medical conditions, you should visit an emergency department:
- Any recent injury or trauma, especially in the elderly
- History of cancer
- Recent immunosuppression, either from surgery or prescribed drugs
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Back Pain Paired With Leg Weakness
Nobody likes back pain, but if that pain is paired with other symptoms, it is even worse. After a trauma, some people also experience leg problems. This can include numbness or tingling, or even severe pain in your legs, even though you didnt injure your legs. In extreme cases, people are even unable to walk.If the pain is spreading, or affects other areas of your body, its important to get your back checked.
Pain In The Ed: What To Really Expect
The ED is the place to go when youre having a medical emergency.
Back pain can hurt a lot. So much, that it can be overwhelming and feel like an emergency. But pack pain is almost never an emergency, and should not be considered one unless it is present with the symptoms described above. Moreover, the emergency department cant deliver the kind of help that people with back pain need.
If youre thinking of a trip to the emergency room, youre probably expecting that youll be able to get relief from your pain and have the cause of the pain identified. You expect the doctors there to run certain tests , give you a diagnosis, and then give you a shot or a pill that relieves your pain, at least temporarily.
With all the amazing technology and powerful drugs we have now days, its easy to think that all of this is possible, but its usually not. And so, people often leave the ED disappointed, with their expectations unmet. We have realized that many of these traditional ways of treating back pain simply dont work, and sometimes they can even make your pain worse in the long run.
If you have back pain, the best thing the emergency room will be able to do is make sure you dont have an emergency health condition. Once an emergency is ruled out, some simple education, reassurance, and guidelines for getting moving again are the best help we can give you. Usually, people expect to receive pain relief, and they are often disappointed.
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Treatment For Standard Back Pain
To treat more common cases of back pain, your general practitioner will likely recommend several self-care solutions and perhaps a referral to a or . Hot or cold compresses may help reduce aches and and provide you with a better range of motion. Your physician may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, topical pain relievers, or injections. He or she might tell you to exercise more once the pain has subsided, since exercise is thought to be one of the most effective ways to speed recovery from while strengthening back and abdominal muscles. In the most serious cases, when the condition does not respond to other therapies, surgery may relieve pain caused by back problems or serious musculoskeletal injuries.