Common Causes Of Back Pain
Two of the most common reasons for back pain are muscle strains or ligament sprains. Obesity and bad posture can put strain on your back and make it hurt. Arthritis and other changes in your spine as you get older can cause back pain. More serious causes of the condition include a ruptured disc or fractured vertebrae. Possible causes of back pain include:
Herniated disc, when the soft center of spinal disc slips out of place
Osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens bones including the vertebrae
Osteomyelitis, a bone infection
Ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis in the spine
Sacroiliitis, inflammation of the joint between the pelvis and lower spine
When Should I See My Doctor
If you have back pain and have lost feeling or movement in your limbs or are having problems controlling your bowels or bladder, call triple 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
You should see your doctor or other health care professional for further advice if:
- your pain bothers you
- your back pain doesnt improve after a few weeks or worsens
- you have symptoms such as weight loss, tingling or numbness in the legs, or problems with bladder and/or bowel control
- you have osteoporosis
You should see your doctor as soon as possible, if you have a history of cancer, are prone to infection, or use intravenous drugs.
For most people, back pain will resolve in a few weeks with appropriate self-care. After 2 months, 9 out of 10 people will recover from back pain.
How Orthopedic Treatment Can Help
Orthopedic spine specialists who don’t have a specialty in orthopedic surgery use non-surgical methods to treat patients who suffer from lower back pain. They specialize in musculoskeletal disorders that affect the lower back in people with sports injuries and other traumatic injuries, as well as disorders and diseases of the spine. They may work with other spine specialists mentioned above to manage the lower back pain and restore movement.
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When Is The Right Time To Seek Help For Your Pain
Dr. Dowdell says its rare that anyone comes to him after a week of back pain. Its more common that people have been living with pain for months or even years, and finally they decide theyve had enough.
As with many health conditions, though, the sooner you get seen by a doctor, the better. If you get help within the first few weeks or months of having ongoing pain, you might be able to prevent it from becoming a lifelong battle, he says.
Whats more, having spine pain for a long time can create pain pathways from your back to your brain, says Dr. Dowdell. As pain signals travel back and forth, the pathways get more and more well established, which can make pain harder to treat later on.
A final note from Dr. Dowdell: Whenever you decide to seek help, you should understand that treatment may be a bit of a journey.
Youre not going to walk into the doctors office and walk out with a quick diagnosis, he says. When youre in pain, that message can be hard to hear. But treating back pain is something that needs to be done one step at a time.
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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What Are The Treatments For Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days of rest, you can start to get back to your normal activities. Staying active increases blood flow to the area and helps you heal.
Other treatments for lower back pain depend on the cause. They include:
- Medications: Your provider may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Other medications relax muscles and prevent back spasms.
- Physical therapy : PT can strengthen muscles so they can support your spine. PT also improves flexibility and helps you avoid another injury.
- Hands-on manipulation: Several hands-on treatments can relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve posture and alignment. Depending on the cause of pain, you may need osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. Massage therapy can also help with back pain relief and restore function.
- Injections: Your provider uses a needle to inject medication into the area thats causing pain. Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Some injuries and conditions need surgical repair. There are several types of surgery for low back pain, including many minimally invasive techniques.
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.
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What Is The Treatment For Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain
Initial treatment is similar to sudden-onset attacks. That is, aim to keep as active as possible. Also, painkillers can help. In addition to the painkillers listed above, your doctor may advise a course of an antidepressant medicine in the tricyclic group – for example, amitriptyline. Tricyclic antidepressants have other actions separate to their action on depression. They are used in a variety of painful conditions, including back pain.
Also, a national guideline , referenced below) recommends one or more of the following treatments should be considered. Each of these treatments has some evidence from research trials to suggest that they will help to ease symptoms in some people :
- Structured exercise programme. This means a programme of exercise supervised by a professional such as a physiotherapist. This is likely to be in a group setting. Exercises may include aerobic activity, movement instruction, muscle strengthening, posture control and stretching. It typically consists of up to eight supervised sessions over 8-12 weeks with encouragement to keep on doing the exercises at home between sessions.
- Manual therapy. Typically this includes several sessions of massage, spinal mobilisation and/or spinal manipulation. With spinal mobilisation the therapist moves the joints of the spine around in their normal movement range. In spinal manipulation, the therapist moves joints beyond the usual range of movement.
- A course of acupuncture. It is not clear how this may work.
Er Average Wait Times
ER wait times are approximate and provided for informational purposes only. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
The ER wait time represents the time it takes to see a qualified medical professional, defined as a Doctor of Medicine , Doctor of Osteopathy , Physician Assistant or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner .
ER wait times represent a four-hour rolling average updated every 30 minutes, and is defined as the time of patient arrival until the time the patient is greeted by a qualified medical professional. Patients are triaged at arrival and are then seen by a qualified medical professional in priority order based on their presenting complaint and reason for visit.
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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.
Back Pain Treatment At Home
The good news is that, given time, most back pain gets better on its own. Over-the-counter pain medication may help ease your symptoms. You can also try applying hot or cold packs to reduce your back pain. Both heat and cold stimulate the nerves so use whichever you prefer and see what works best for you. Doctors more commonly recommend heat to relax tight muscles, but you may find ice reduces swelling. Use your heat or cold pack for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Dont apply the heat or cold treatment directly to skin. Rest and avoiding activities that especially put strain on your back may also help while you heal. However, doctors dont generally recommend bed rest when your back hurts.
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Should I Go To Emerald Coast Urgent Care For Back Pain Dont Wait Go Now
You dont want to mess around with back pain. If you are debating, Should I go to urgent care for back pain, then chances are you should. You know how bad your pain is, and putting off seeing a doctor will only make it worse.It is important to go to urgent care as soon as possible. Here at Emerald Coast Urgent Care, we help people with back pain all the time. Use our contact page to ask us any questions, or walk in today. No appointments necessary!
Where To Start With Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common complaints on the planet.
And when someone starts experiencing back pain it can be so frightening that we immediately want an expert that will somehow magically get rid of it.
Unfortunately, there’s just no unicorns and rainbows when it comes to solving back pain.
Realize that most back pain will resolve on its own. What I’m saying here is that your major ache or tweaked out back doesn’t require a specialist in most cases.
Some of the most common causes of acute or sudden back pain include an injury:
- to a muscle or tendon
- to a back ligament
- to a bulging disc .
And the reality is, many of these issues will eventually resolve on their own.
In my personal opinion, the first time someone starts to experience back pain, they should immediately start doing back extension exercises.
I would continue to do back extensions every 3-4 hours throughout the day for at least 3 days.
And if you notice that you’re feeling better, continue for another 1-2 weeks.
But if your low back pain doesn’t improve, then maybe there is something more serious happening.
More serious causes of back pain include:
- a narrowing of the spinal canal
- disc tears or herniations
- severe degenerative disc disease
- spinal infections
So if your back pain doesn’t improve with back extensions and modified activities, then you’d want to consider someone who is qualified to properly assess the situation.
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Lower Back Pain Causes
Nonspecific low back pain means that the pain is not due to any specific or underlying disease that can be found. It is thought that in some cases the cause may be an over-stretch of a ligament or muscle. In other cases the cause may be a minor problem with a disc between two spinal bones , or a minor problem with a small facet joint between two vertebrae. There may be other minor problems in the structures and tissues of the lower back that result in pain. However, these causes of the pain are impossible to prove by tests. Therefore, it is usually impossible for a doctor to say exactly where the pain is coming from, or exactly what is causing the pain.
To some people, not knowing the exact cause of the pain is unsettling. However, looked at another way, many people find it reassuring to know that the diagnosis is nonspecific back pain which means there is no serious problem or disease of the back or spine.
How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
A complete medical history and physical exam can usually identify any serious conditions that may be causing the pain. Neurologic tests can help determine the cause of pain and appropriate treatment. Imaging tests are not needed in most cases but may be ordered to rule out specific causes of pain, including tumors and spinal stenosis. Occasionally the cause of chronic lower back pain is difficult to determine even after a thorough examination.
Blood tests are not routinely used to diagnose the cause of back pain but might be ordered to look for signs of inflammation, infection, cancer, and/or arthritis.
Bone scans can detect and monitor an infection, fracture, or bone disorder. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and collects in the bones, particularly in areas with some abnormality. Scanner-generated images can identify specific areas of irregular bone metabolism or abnormal blood flow, as well as to measure levels of joint disease.
Discography involves injecting a contrast dye into a spinal disc thought to be causing low back pain. The fluids pressure in the disc will reproduce the persons symptoms if the disc is the cause. The dye helps to show the damaged areas on CT scans taken following the injection.
Electrodiagnostics can identify problems related to the nerves in the back and legs. The procedures include:
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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
When To See Your Doctor About Back Pain
Although rare, back pain can be a sign of a more serious condition. If you experience any of the following ‘red flag’ symptoms with your back pain then please see a doctor urgently.
‘Red flag’ symptoms see a doctor urgently if you have:
See your GP or physiotherapist if:
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All Studies Have Limitations
And this one is no exception. While this study suggests that chiropractic care may be helpful for low back pain, some aspects of the study make it hard to be sure. For example:
If any of these factors had been different, the results might have been different. For example, its possible that if an older population of people with chronic low back pain had been studied, “usual care” might have been the better treatment.
Fall Asleep Faster And Sleep Longer
When you have a restful nights sleep, your back will feel less sore during the day.7 A night of restorative sleep can have healing benefits and make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and less stressed.
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Try these natural sleep aids, one at a time, to see which one works best for you:
- Vitamins C and B6. The natural steroids in your body control your metabolism and promote good sleep.8,9 Supplements of vitamins C10 and B611 are known to help the body produce and regulate natural steroid hormones.
- Melatonin. Your natural sleep hormone, melatonin can be taken as a supplement to improve your sleep cycle.
- L-theanine. An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine may help some people feel relaxed and get better sleep.
- Valerian. Supplements made from the root of the valerian plant may help you sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Another option is cherry juice or cherry extractscherries contain certain enzymes that help promote better sleep.4
See Natural Remedies and Herbal Supplements as Sleep Aids
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