Small Changes Can Reduce Low Back Pain
Back problems can be prevented most of the time. It is certainly easier to prevent a back injury by taking the appropriate measures, and small changes can reduce low back pain. Work every day to have good posture, watch how you lift things, take time to destress, and take good care of your body. These small steps can help you take control of your lower back pain.
Possible Causes Of Lower Back Pain When Walking
There are many possible causes of lower back pain when walking. Your posture and your form while walking can affect the way your back and spine feel. Injury factors like muscle sprain, muscle strain, sciatica, and disc injury can also cause discomfort.
Furthermore, certain chronic medical conditions can require medical attention, emergency care, or spine surgery. These include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Cauda Equina Syndrome
In order to assess the type of treatment you require, your doctor will need to determine what is causing your back pain. Here are some possible causes of lower back pain when walking.
Can Further Bouts Of Back Pain Be Prevented
Evidence suggests that the best way to prevent bouts of low back pain is simply to keep active and to exercise regularly. This means general fitness exercise such as walking, running, swimming, etc. There is no firm evidence to say that any particular back strengthening exercises are more useful to prevent back pain than simply keeping fit and active. It is also sensible to be back-aware. For example, do not lift objects when you are in an awkward twisting posture.
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Common Causes Of Chronic Lower Back Pain
“Chronic lower back pain is less likely to be caused by injury to your muscles and ligaments and more likely to be due to issues with the lumbar disks, nerves, joints or vertebrae,” says Dr. Palmer. “There are several potential causes of chronic pain in the lower back.”
In general, osteoarthritis and degenerative disk disease are the underlying cause of many types of chronic lower back pain. However, lower back pain can also be caused by accident-related trauma and acute stress.
Poor Quality Sleep And Insomnia Are Probably Major Causes Of Morning Back Pain
Dont get me wrong: some people sleep just fine and still have morning back pain. But poor quality sleep and pain tend definitely to go together,15 and mornings can be the roughest part of that link.
The more interesting question is the chicken/egg thing: which comes first? Pain or sleeplessness? Once you have both insomnia and pain, they surely cause each other, but one side of that equation is probably more important than the other, like a cyclist pushing much harder on one pedal than the other.
In 2017, Gerhart et al studied the which-came-first question of pain and insomnia in 105 chronic low back pain patients.16 Their subjects bravely filled out five detailed questionnaires per day for two weeks thats quite a lot of paperwork tracking and rating many aspects of their pain and sleep quality. The goal was to study lagged temporal associations: what tends to happen after what? Are bad sleeps often followed by bad days with back pain? Are rough days with back pain followed by lousy sleeps?
Yes and no to those two questions.
Poorer sleep was strongly linked to everything being worse which is about as surprising as a dog barking at a squirrel. Its the timing of that relationship that this study zoomed in on, and not only did a bad night clearly herald trouble across the board the next day more pain, more disability, more doom and gloom but especially during the early part of the day.
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You Need A New Mattress
Having a cozy sleep setup is also key to avoiding back pain after sleeping. Snooze on a comfortable, supportive mattress that holds your spine in a neutral position, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The fix: If you have an old or uncomfortable mattress, consider getting a new innerspring or foam mattress to support your spine, per the Cleveland Clinic, which may help you avoid mid-back pain after sleeping.
You can also opt for a foam mattress topper to take your current bedding to the next level.
What Can I Do For My Lower Back Pain
The first step in getting relief from your back pain is to identify its cause. For instance, the treatment for trauma-induced back pain may be something for which you need professional help, while tension-induced pain may be able to be treated at home.
In general, over-the-counter medications, ice, and heat can provide significant relief from run-of-the-mill lower back pain. At the onset of your back pain, apply a cold compress for about 15 minutes, 3 4 times a day. After the first few days, use a heating pad instead. Warm showers or baths may also help loosen your muscles and relieve your pain. In some cases, massage therapy may help alleviate your symptoms. However, make sure that you seek treatment from a qualified, certified, and experienced professional, as improper techniques may result in a worsening of your pain.
For back pain that is caused by more serious conditions, including disk problems or osteoarthritis, professional intervention may be needed. In some cases, surgery may be recommended, but there are many instances when less invasive techniques can be equally or even more beneficial. Dr. Williams is proud to offer the breakthrough Regenexx family of procedures to his patients suffering from chronic pain and other problems. During your initial consultation, Dr. Williams will thoroughly evaluate your case, begin the process of diagnosing your condition, and explain how Regenexx treatment may benefit you.
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Less Common Causes Of Low Back Pain
While considerably less common, low back pain may also be caused by:
Infection. Also called osteomyelitis, a spinal infection is rare but can cause severe pain and is life threatening if untreated. It can be caused by surgical procedures, injections, or spread through the blood stream. Patients with a compromised immune system are more susceptible to developing an infection in the spine.
Tumor. Most spinal tumors start in another part of the body and metastasize to the spine. The most common tumors that spread to the spine start from cancer in the breast, prostate, kidney, thyroid, or lung. Any new symptoms of back pain in a patient with a known diagnosis of cancer should be evaluated for possible spinal metastasis.
Autoimmune disease. Back pain is a possible symptom associated with autoimmune conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, crohns disease, fibromyalgia, and others.
This list includes the more common causes of back pain, but there are many more. Finding the optimal treatment for low back pain usually depends on obtaining a correct clinical diagnosis that identifies the underlying cause of the patients symptoms.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest and pain relievers. Back pain that doesnt go away may be a sign of a more serious condition.
See your provider if you have:
- Pain that doesnt get better after about a week of at-home care.
- Tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in your buttocks or legs.
- Severe pain or muscle spasms that interfere with your normal activities.
- Fever, weight loss, bowel or bladder problems or other unexplained symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Millions of people live with low back pain. Stiffness, pain and limited movement can have a major impact on quality of life. But you may be able to avoid lower back pain by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. Talk to your provider if back pain doesnt go away or if youre unable to do the activities you enjoy. Several treatments can relieve pain, help you move better and get more out of life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/18/2021.
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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.
Getting Rid Of Back Pain
The National Institute for Fitness and Sport has an excellent program for getting rid of low back pain due to APT. It includes:
- Lengthen the short hip flexors with stretches.
- Retrain the glutes and hamstrings to fire more efficiently.
- Strengthen the abs to help pull the pelvis into place.
Finding an exercise that strengthens your core and teaches you to use those muscles properly can be really helpful for many people to get rid of their low back pain. Some of these exercises are called corrective exercises, and one that has become popular recently is crawling. Breaking Muscle gives an explanation of how crawling can benefit anyone and how to do it.
Everyone finds different solutions to the back pain problem. Its important to safely try out different solutions until you find the one that works for you. Here are some of our top suggestions for those suffering from lower back pain:
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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…
What Is The Outlook
Most of us will have a bout of nonspecific low back pain at some point in our lives. The severity can vary. However, it is difficult to quote exact figures as to outlook . This is partly because it is so common and many people with back pain do not consult a doctor. Roughly, it is thought that:
- Most nonspecific back pains ease and go quickly, usually within a few weeks.
- In about 4 in 10 cases, the pain has completely gone within four weeks.
- In about 7 in 10 cases the pain has completely gone within one year.
However, once the pain has eased or gone it is common to have further bouts of pain from time to time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains on and off for quite some time after an initial bad bout of pain. In a small number of cases the pain persists for several months or longer. This is called chronic back pain.
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Main Causes Of Morning Back Pain
Why is back pain worst first thing in the morning, and what can you do about it?
I woke up with it is an amazingly common description of how low back pain started.
Why? Is sleeping dangerous? Probably not: waking up with back pain rarely indicates a serious problem. But both mornings and backs are unusually vulnerable to some common minor sources of pain.
This is mostly about chronic back pain thats at its worst in the morning, a common symptom pattern. People who are more or less pain-free during the day may still suffer for a while every day after waking up. But attacks of acute back pain are also much more common in the first few hours of the day see Steffens et al.2 and that phenomenon may be related to why chronic back pain tends to be bad in the morning.
Morning back pain is a tough problem to treat because most of it probably has several subtle chronic causes, but there may be some opportunities for treatment.
Is pain & stiffness your alarm clock? Do you bail out of bed early every morning with low back pain, neck pain & more?
What About Nocturnal Intervertebral Disc Swelling
This is one of the classic theories about why people seem to be more vulnerable to back pain in the morning.
Between every pair of vertebrae is a bit of padding, the infamous disc. They probably swell up a wee bit overnight. There are two studies that suggest this2930 . A 2016 paper speculates that disc swelling is why astronauts probably suffer from more disc herniations than they should.31 Weightlessness is undoubtedly like resting your spine, but its another long-term effect, so Im not sure how relevant the astronaut angle is its just a fun angle on the topic.
I saved this idea for last because its too speculative to be really satisfying.
Discs may swell, but that doesnt mean swelling discs hurt. Mild swelling is hardly a concern in itself, and most people dont wake up in pain, so its unlikely that swelling alone is a problem. Swollen discs may hurt more in the morning if theres already something wrong with them, such as annular tears,32 but such discs might well be uncomfortable regardless. Mildly herniated discs might swell and effectively be more herniated in the morning but many herniations are painless, so thats hardly a smoking gun.
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Lumbar Sprain Or Muscle Strain Could Be To Blame
Your lower spine is supported by a network of soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. If you feel irritation, muscle spasms, or tightness across your lower back, hips, or buttocks when walking, the tissues may be damaged. This can lead to lumbar sprain or muscle strain.6
What are the Symptoms of Lumbar Sprain and Muscle Strain?
When you sprain or strain your lumbar spine, the soft tissues in your back can become aggravated and inflamed. The pain can range from slight to debilitating. Depending on the extent of the injury, you may experience:
- Muscles spasms
- Stiffness or soreness in your lower back
- Restricted range of motion
- Tightness in lower back muscles
- Pain that radiates from your back to your buttocks7
Possible Causes Of Lumbar Sprain And Muscle Strain
You can strain your lower back by pulling or twisting your lower back muscles suddenly or awkwardly. Chronic strain can occur if you overuse muscles in a repetitive fashion.
Remember the old saying, Lift with your legs, not with your back? You can also experience muscle strain by lifting something improperly or by putting too much stress on your back muscles.
Lumbar sprain can occur when one or more ligaments in your back are stretched beyond their normal range.
This can happen after a fall, an unexpected twist, or a forceful blow to your body.
Excessive activity from aerobic exercise or low-impact exercise can cause a sprain. Displaying incorrect form while exercising can also be troublesome.
How Do You Treat Inflammaging Lifestyle Medicine
No one really knows, but its probably all about just being as fit and healthy as possible, and reducing biological vulnerabilities . Systemic inflammation is almost synonymous with being out of shape and all the bad habits that tend to go with it so these very general approaches to health can be considered inflammation treatments specifically. But they are also a sensible everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to treating any health problem we dont understand .
Their superpower is that its hard to actually waste your time doing this stuff. Its all good for you, whether it helps morning back pain or not.
What about more specific inflammation treatments? There are many. Obviously there are OTC anti-inflammatory drugs. They arent a long-term solution those drugs are too hard on the GI tract for anything but taking the edge off now and then. But they might do that, and if they do its also good diagnostic evidence that the issue is caused by inflammation. Inflammation can also be nuked by some more potent drug therapies, but those cures are definitely worse than the disease of morning back pain.
I have an article specifically about inflammation that goes into more detail about managing inflammation:
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