When To See A Specialist For Lower Back Pain
If you’re experiencing lower back pain that’s not responding to rest and self-care, it’s time to consider seeing a spine specialist.
“A spine specialist will likely perform a physical exam as well as one or more imaging scans to diagnose the root cause of your lower back pain. Depending on your diagnosis, he or she will then design a treatment plan aimed at alleviating your pain and preventing it from disrupting the everyday activities you enjoy,” says Dr. Palmer.
What Doctor Should I See For Back Pain
If your back pain is from a recent strain or mild injury, your primary care doctor can probably help. But if the pain is severe, ongoing, or accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness or tingling in your arms or legs, it may be time to see a back doctor. Start with someone who specializes in nonsurgical treatment for back pain. This can include a physiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, or orthopaedic physician assistant. They can evaluate your condition and offer appropriate treatment to help alleviate your pain. Depending on your circumstances, they might also refer you to another type of back specialist — for example, a pain management specialist or spine surgeon.
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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When Do Your Symptoms Need Urgent Treatment Not Just Rest
Most back pain is the result of simple muscle fatigue or strain and a period of rest/ treatment is all that is needed to get you back on your feet.
However, the spine is still one of the most important parts of the body and its pain signals should not be ignored in certain circumstances immediate medical treatment is essential. The question is when to see a doctor with lower back pain?
1.Severe Pain From Both The Lower Back And Stomach.
It is rare for lower back pain to cause severe abdominal pain, but not unusual for it to occur the other way around. In other words, whatever is causing the abdominal pain is also causing lower back pain as a symptom.
The bright side is it could be much more treatable, but if left untreated could also be potentially more dangerous, even life threatening. Possible causes of the stomach pain could be a serious infection, a cancer or even an aortic aneurysm, among other options.
There are even more possibilities for women to develop abdominal pain, including eptopic pregnancies all of which require immediate medical intervention.
Electrical impulses in the spinal carry vital messages around the body. Symptoms such as poor coordination, loss of feeling, fluctuating levels of consciousness and even temporary paralysis can all be examples of faulting signals in the spinal cord and an indication of something very seriously wrong.
3.Fever-like Symptoms That Do Not Respond To Over-The-Counter Medications
What Exactly Is The Lower Back Anyway
Your lower back is known as the lumbar region of the spine. It has a lot of heavy lifting to do: The lumbar spine carries the weight of your entire upper body, plus biomechanical stresses that occur with movement.
The lumbar spine has five vertebraebackbones. Each vertebra has a large disc cushiony gel wrapped in a tough membrane on its front side that acts as a shock absorber. Each vertebra also has two cartilage-lined facet joints on its back side. Working together, discs and facet joints allow the spine to safely bend and twist.
Your lower back also includes ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Ligaments are strong bands that hold the vertebrae and discs together. Tendons attach muscles to the vertebrae. These structures help limit excessive movement that could harm the spinal cord.
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You’re Running A Fever
The flu can definitely make you run a fever and achiness, including in your back. However, if the fever is unresponsive to standard OTC medications, you could have a serious infection that needs treatment immediately. If you go to a doctor and they find an infection, they may prescribe antibiotics and a few days rest.
Muscle Strain In Lower Left Back
Muscle strain is another type of injury that can cause left-sided lower back pain and affect your daily activities. The resulting pain from the lower back injury can be mild to severe, depending on the extent of strain to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments of the lower back.
According to research published in the journal BMJ, low back strain and pain in the lumbar region is the leading cause of missed days at work and is becoming a global epidemic. Many medical professionals point to carrying heavy bags as a common reason for lower back pain at work.5
Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that acute lower back pain on the left side can be lumbar strain caused by overuse of the back muscles, incorrectly lifting heavy items, or carrying heavy bags. This results in microscopic tears in the tissues in the lower back. This causes back pain in the lumbar region when walking, getting up from a chair or bending over.3
To treat acute and chronic back pain, you can find some useful ideas in my article on how to get rid of muscle soreness. You should also try to improve your posture to prevent back pain causing discomfort in your daily activities.
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Symptoms Of Low 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.
Symptoms Of Lower Left Back Pain
Conditions that result in back pain on your lower left side can also be associated with symptoms that can cause discomfort in other parts of your body.
Of course, if you have muscle problems or trapped nerves in your lower spine, it might be sore to stand in one place for a long time, bend over, or get up from a seating position. Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy on WebMD says that this type of pain can range from a dull ache to shooting back pains.1
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, lower back pain that just affects one side of your back can be caused by infection or inflammation in your internal organs. This can cause the pain to be so severe that it is crippling.2 Along with the back pain, you might have a burning sensation when you urinate, lower abdominal cramping pain, and cloudy urine. You may also have signs of a fever and feel nauseous.
Many women experience more lower left back pain than men because of issues with their menstrual cycle. For example, pregnancy can put more strain on the lower back and cause pain on both the left side and right side of the back. Or conditions like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or uterine fibroids can result in mild to severe aches in the lower left back along with irregularities in the menstrual cycle and irregular vaginal bleeding.
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Causes Of Chronic Lower Back Pain
Pain is taken into consideration persistent when it lasts for more than three months and exceeds the bodys all-natural healing process. Chronic pain in the low back typically includes a disc trouble, a joint issue, and/or an irritated nerve origin. Typical causes include:
Back herniated disc. The jelly-like center of a back disc can appear the tough external layer and also aggravate a close-by nerve root. The herniated section of the disc is full of healthy proteins that cause swelling when they reach a nerve root, as well as swelling, as well as nerve compression, trigger nerve root pain. The disc wall surface is additionally highly provided by nerve fibers, as well as a tear through the wall can cause severe pain.
Degenerative disc disease. At birth, intervertebral discs have lots of water as well as at their healthiest. As individuals age gradually, discs lose hydration as well as wear down. As the disc sheds hydration, it can not stand up to forces as well, as well as transfers force to the disc wall that might develop rips and create pain or weakening that can cause a herniation. The disc can additionally collapse and contribute to stenosis. Who To See For Lower Back Pain
What Can Cause Lower Back Pain
Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:
- Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
- Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.
- Sprains , strains , and spasms
- Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
- Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
- Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.
Nerve and spinal cord problems
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What Are Some Less Invasive Or Noninvasive Back Pain Treatments
Your doctor has a wide range of treatments that may help your lower back pain. In general, expect your doctor to take a stepped care approach. That means starting with simple, low-cost treatments and moving to more aggressive approaches later. Keep in mind that many treatments take time to reach their full effect.
Medications. When over-the-counter pills and topicals dont do enough to relieve back pain, your doctor may recommend a prescription drug. Examples include:
- Antiseizure medication, such gabapentin or pregabalin, for nerve-related pain
- Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen or carisoprodol
- Prescription NSAIDs, such as celecoxib, diclofenac, or fenoprofen
- Opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, on a short-term basis.
Physical therapy . PT for lower back pain involves passive and active therapies to help the patient build core muscle strength, improve spinal flexibility and range of motion, correct posture and more. Your physical therapy sessions may include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
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.
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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:
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.
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When To See A Doctor For Pain In Lower Left Back
Diagnosing the underlying cause of lower left back pain can be a challenge. Therefore, if you have back pain that lasts for more than 2 days and you cant get relief using home remedies for back pain, you should see a doctor.
According to Dr. Louise Chang on WebMD, some of the warning signs of lower left back pain that means you should see a doctor include the following:26
- Lower back pain or middle back pain accompanied by a fever.
- Trauma to your back that causes pain that lasts for more than a few days and doesnt get better.
- Numbness in your legs or constant tingling feeling down one or both legs.
- Loss of bowel or bladder function as a result of a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or fracture to the spine.
- Lower back pain on either side of your body that interferes with your daily activities or sleep.
- Lower back pain that becomes chronic and last for longer than 6 weeks.
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There Are Also 2 Other Guidelines By Which Help To Advise Us When To See A Doctor With Lower Back Pain
6.When its been bothering you for more than 6 weeks, despite trying rest/ massage/ hot compress etc.
7.If its actually getting worse after several days/ weeks of resting and treatment.
In either case again, the best option is to go and see your doctor and at least make sure it is nothing more serious.
Persistent Low Back Pain
Nonspecific low back pain is classed as chronic if it lasts for longer than six weeks. In some people it lasts for months, or even years. Symptoms may be constant. However, the more usual pattern is one in which symptoms follow an irregular course. That is, reasonably long periods of mild or moderate pain may be interrupted by bouts of more severe pain.
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A Recent Study On Chiropractic Care For Low Back Pain
A 2018 study published in JAMA Network Open is among the latest to weigh in on the pros and cons of chiropractic care for treating low back pain. Researchers enrolled 750 active-duty military personnel who complained of back pain. Half were randomly assigned to receive usual care while the other half received usual care plus up to 12 chiropractic treatments.
After six weeks of treatment, those assigned to receive chiropractic care:
- reported less pain intensity
- experienced less disability and more improvement in function
- reported higher satisfaction with their treatment
- needed less pain medicine.
While no serious side effects were reported, about 10% of those receiving chiropractic care described adverse effects . Five percent of those receiving usual care had similar complaints.
Lower Back Pain Causes: 8 Reasons For Sudden & Chronic Pain
Sometimes, you know exactly why your back is hurting. Maybe you lifted something awkwardly and felt the pain right away. Or maybe your doctor has been warning you for years that your bad posture would lead to lower back pain.
But other times, the source of back pain can feel like a mystery.
“Your lumbar spine, located in your lower back, plays a crucial role in supporting the weight of your upper body. It’s also responsible for everyday movements, such as bending, twisting and coordinating the muscles in your hips, pelvis legs and feet,” says Dr. Kenneth Palmer, orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery at Houston Methodist. “Due to heavy use, the bones, muscles, ligaments, disks and nerves found in your lumbar spine are quite susceptible to both injury and wear and tear over time causing pain in the lower back.”
Lower back pain symptoms include:
- Dull ache in your hips and/or pelvis
- Muscle spasms or tightness
- Sharp, tingling pain that starts in your lower back and travels down one leg
- Pain that worsens with sitting and quickly improves while walking
- Pain that is noticeably worse in the morning
“Typically, a person experiences some combination of these symptoms, which can develop suddenly or over time. In some cases, lower back pain can feel like it comes and goes flaring up now and then, but generally getting progressively worse over time,” explains Dr. Palmer.
Speaking of the various causes of lower back pain…
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