Risk Factors Of Developing Severe/chronic Low Back Pain In Older Adults
Although most LBP is self-limiting and begins to improve after a few days and resolves within a month , some patients are susceptible to chronic LBP that lead to significant disability. While age is a well-known risk factor for chronic LBP , other factors may perpetuate LBP in older adults . The understanding of these factors can help identify high-risk patients and improve their LBP management. Since older adults usually face both age-related physical and psychosocial issues, comprehensive assessments and treatments are needed to effectively manage LBP in seniors.
Factors affecting the development of severe or chronic low back pain among older adults
When To Contact A Medical Professional
- Back pain after a severe blow or fall
- Burning with urination or blood in your urine
- History of cancer
- Loss of control over urine or stool
- Pain traveling down your legs below the knee
- Pain that is worse when you lie down or pain that wakes you up at night
- Redness or swelling on the back or spine
- Severe pain that does not allow you to get comfortable
- Unexplained fever with back pain
- Weakness or numbness in your buttocks, thigh, leg, or pelvis
Also call if:
- You have been losing weight unintentionally
- You use steroids or intravenous drugs
- You have had back pain before, but this episode is different and feels worse
- This episode of back pain has lasted longer than 4 weeks
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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Is Lower Right Or Left Back Pain Worrisome
Pain on one side of the back is not particularly more worrisome than central pain. There are three main kinds of one-sided back pain:
Most of the anatomy of the low back and abdomen is symmetrical. Some of the guts are not symmetrical, and only some of those is a plausible cause of back pain on one side. Heres some of the key anatomy to consider:
The side of the pain on its own doesnt tell us much, and most of the one-sided sources of pain are viscera that usually cause abdominal pain instead of back pain, or in addition to it. In other words, the only reason to worry about right or left lower back pain is if it is otherwise worrisome: if you have other red flags or significant non-back symptoms.
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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.
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How Can I Manage My Symptoms
- Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice decreases pain and helps prevent tissue damage.
- Apply heat for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours, or as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Use massage to loosen tense muscles. Massage may relieve back pain caused by tight muscles. Regular massages may help prevent this kind of back pain.
- Ask about acupuncture for pain relief. Back pain is sometimes relieved with acupuncture. Talk to your healthcare provider before you get this treatment to make sure it is safe for you.
What Are Some Complementary Alternative And Emerging Treatments For Lower Back Pain
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
Platelet-rich plasma . PRP treatments use a small sample of your own blood that has concentrated amounts of blood building blocks known as platelets. Your doctor then injects the PRP directly into a damaged disc. The theory is that PRP injections use your own healing system to accelerate improvement of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. PRP treatment has a longer track record in knee osteoarthritis, but a recent review article in the Journal of Spine Surgery suggests it may have a useful role for back pain, too. PRP needs a lot more research before it can be considered a proven technique.
Stem cells. In this emerging treatment, your doctor injects stem cells harvested from your hip into the intervertebral disc or discs causing your pain. Doing so may lessen pain and the degenerative effects of aging, though, like PRP, more research is needed before stem cells for lower back pain could eventually become the standard of care.
Acupuncture. Your doctor probably doesnt perform acupuncture , but may support you trying it as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. This may stimulate the release of your natural pain-killing chemicals.
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When Should I Call My Doctor
- You have severe pain.
- You have new numbness, tingling, or weakness, especially in your lower back, legs, arms, or genital area.
- You lose control of your bladder or bowel movements.
- You have a fever or sudden weight loss.
- You have new or worse pain.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Lack Of Physical Activity
Not getting enough exercise is another major factor that makes people with COPD more prone to back pain. This is a risk for patients with advanced COPD, in particular, who often find it difficult to stay active because of their severe physical and respiratory symptoms.
Not getting enough physical activity causes your muscles to break down and can even weaken your bones and joints. It also hurts the flexibility of your back, which can cause stiffness and pain when you move.
Unfortunately, many people avoid exercise when they have back pain, which can end up making it even worse. This can start a vicious cycle where lack of physical activity causes back pain, and untreated back pain can causes patients to avoid physical acitivity even more.
Patients that live too sedentary a lifestyle can also develop disuse syndrome, a disorder that stems from not using your body enough. It can lead to back pain, other chronic pains, cardiovascular disease, and mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
One of the most direct ways that COPD can cause back pain is through chronic inflammation. This happens when your immune system’s inflammatory response stays active all the time, which is a very common symptom of COPD.
Inflammatory back pain gets worse when you don’t move around for long periods of time and improves with movement and exercise. It doesn’t get better with rest and tends to be more severe in the morning after you’ve been lying in bed all night.
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Bulging Or Ruptured Disc
Intervertebral discs are located between the bones of the spine and serve as shock-absorbing cushions. The discs can break down over time due to aging, trauma, obesity, repetitive stress, and smoking. When this happens, a disc can start to protrude outward, which is known as a bulging or slipped disc.
The disc can also tear, resulting in a ruptured disc. When this happens, the inner part of the disc will push out and compress nearby nerves, triggering nerve pain.
A ruptured disc in the low back can cause sharp pain that may move down into the buttocks, groin, and leg. A ruptured disc in the neck can cause pain that moves down an arm. It may also cause muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling.
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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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.
What Are The Causes Of Lower Back Pain
The vast majority of patients experience back pain because of mechanical reasons. They strain a muscle from heavy lifting or twisting, suffer a sudden jolt in a car accident, experience stress on spinal bones and tissues resulting in a , or suffer from osteoarthritis, a potentially painful degeneration of one or more spinal joints. Common causes for low back pain are:
- mechanical or functional injury
- active infection
- referred pain
To choose the safest and most effective therapy, doctors need to consider the full spectrum of possible underlying issues, such as inflammatory conditions, fracture, infection, as well as some serious conditions unrelated to the back that radiate pain to the back.
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What Causes Lower Back Pain
Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:
- Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
- Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions increase the risk of fractures.
- Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae . Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear . With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection .
- Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
- Disease:Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.
How Can Back Pain Be Prevented
In most cases, you can prevent back pain by making changes to your lifestyle.
Doing exercise helps to keep your back flexible and strong. Exercise improves your posture and helps your muscles to support your spine. Exercises that can help prevent back pain include:
- low-impact aerobic exercise
- strengthening exercises, such as lifting weights, climbing stairs or hiking hills
- stretching exercises, such as Pilates and yoga
Maintaining a good posture is important when you sit at home, in your workplace, or in your car. Try not to slouch, and use equipment that supports your back, such as a lumbar support or footstool if you need.
Keeping a healthy weight is also important. Excess fat can strain your back and lead to back pain, sciatica and inflammation.
Practise safe lifting in your home or workplace. Whenever you pick up a heavy load, squat down, hold the object close to your body, and lift with your legs.
- Quit smoking Smoking increases your chances of developing persistent back pain.
- Relax Learning relaxation techniques and mindfulness can help to reduce stress and muscle tension in your back.
- Avoid high heels wearing high heels can place strain on your back.
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Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain When Sitting
In addition to improving your posture when sitting, try these at-home remedies for lower back pain:
- Change your position. Consider a standing desk or one thats ergonomically designed to help you maintain good posture by allowing you to adjust the height of your monitor.
- Apply ice.Cold helps reduce inflammation that may be affecting your back. Leave the ice pack on for about 20 minutes, and then remove it. You can do this every hour or so.
- Use a heating pad. After any inflammation is under control , many people find heat soothing. It also promotes healing by bringing blood to your back.
- Take over-the-counter medication.Pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce discomfort and swelling.
- Use a support. Placing a rolled-up towel or special lumbar pillow at the base of your spine while sitting will help you remember to sit up straight and provide you with some stability.
- Get a massage. This can help loosen and relax tight muscles.
- Consider yoga.Yoga is known for its ability to stretch and strengthen the body. Many programs allow for modification of the poses as needed.
There are several exercises that will help strengthen your lower back. Try these three stretching exercises to help make your back stronger and better toned:
Stretches To Relieve Chronic Back And Hip Pain
Several exercises and stretches can relieve the chronic pain in these areas brought about by several factors and conditions. Trying these activities may greatly help in reducing the severity of the pain and difficulty experienced.
This stretch helps lessen the pain in the back and the hips through the opening of the adductor muscles as well as the hip flexors.
- In a standing position, point the toes at 45 degrees with the feet open and heels in.
- Squat low as if in a sitting position while placing the hands on the inner thighs.
- Press the thighs open and feel the stretch in the groin and thighs for about 30 seconds.
This is a basic stretch that involves the entire back. It helps in opening and moving up the hips through proper stretching of the glutes.
- In a tabletop position, bring the toes together while taking the knees out and the hips back.
- Lower the forehead to the ground with the hands positioned straight forward.
- Relax the arms and keep the shoulders away from the ears for about 30 seconds.
Figure 4 Twist
This stretch reduces the lower back and hip pain. It increases the external hip rotation, providing the pain relief.
This stretch helps in relieving the pain with the movements done on the flexors, quadriceps, and even the abdominal muscles.
Supine Figure 4
This stretch exercise helps reduce the pain in the hips. It stretches the glutes and other muscles.
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