The Truth About Back Pain
When it comes to lower back discomfort, it’s often not the lower back at all that’s causing the problem. Lots of different muscle groups are connected to the lower back, and when one of those muscles is tight it can pull on the lower back and cause pain.
For example, tight hamstrings are a common cause of low back pain. Sitting all day can cause the hip flexor muscles on the front of your pelvis to become shortened, which can also lead to lower back pain. This is why simply doing lower back stretches, although they may provide temporary relief, isn’t the best way to treat your lower back pain and tightness.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome And/or Fibromyalgia
There are two common causes for widespread moderate body pain, both somewhat mysterious and controversial, both known for affecting the back more than other areas, and both known for their morning hijinks:
Theres likely lots of overlap between these conditions. Fibromyalgia isnt really an explanatory diagnosis it just labels a common pattern of symptoms that could have several different causes. MPS is a hypothetical problem with muscle tissue that is a possile explanation for some body pain, and that type of pain is extremely common in fibromyalgia patients.
Fibromyalgia is associated with morning back pain because:
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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What Is The Outlook For People With Lower Back Pain
The outlook depends on the cause of pain. Most people with back strains and sprains recover and do not have long-term health issues. But many people will have another episode within a year.
Some people have chronic back pain that doesnt get better after several weeks. Older people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may have symptoms that get worse over time. Surgery and other treatments are effective at helping people with a range of injuries and conditions live pain-free.
Diagnosis Of Nerve Damage Causing Coldness In The Neck And Back
If you are feeling the cold sensation on the neck and the back make sure to check with the doctor. If you are a diabetic then it is even more important to check with the doctor immediately. The doctor will make you go through a number of different tests that will determine the nerve damage that has been caused. According to the results, the next course of action will be decided. In most of the cases, the nerve damage is reversible with the help of medication.
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Misunderstandings You Must Correct To Stop The Pain In The Morning
If youve been struggling with countless times of waking up with a very sore back, you are not alone.
Have you reached the point where rest and medication are no longer a suitable option? Even though it seems like you are feeling better, the very next time you awaken becomes yet another ordeal.
I have found that there are a lot of mistakes that we all make to cause this. At least 8 of them so far! But the best way to overcome the morning struggle is to tackle them one at a time.
Spine Muscles In Pain Myofascial Pain Syndrome May Be To Blame
You might not know what myofascial pain syndrome is, but youve likely experienced it. Myo means muscle and fascia refers to the bands of tissue that cover and connect the various muscles or organs. If youve ever felt tightness, twitching trigger points, or a painful knot in your neck or back, myofascial pain syndrome may be the cause.
Myofascial pain syndrome is very commonresearchers estimate it affects approximately 44 million people in the United States alone.1 This article will answer the most common questions related to myofascial pain syndrome in the spine, including how you can prevent this type of pain from recurring.
Illustration typifies myofascial trigger points in a man’s neck, mid-back and low back musculature. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
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Is It Normal To Wake Up With Back Stiffness
YES. YES. YES. Now just because its normal doesnt mean its optimal. The normal American diet consists of processed and fast foods, though we all know that those foods are not the best for us. Plenty of people wake up in the morning with stiffness in the neck and low back. In fact, I see it every day. Is it healthy for your body to wake up stiff and in pain? Not particularly. Does it mean there is something catastrophically and irreversibly wrong? No. Fortunately, just like our diets, we have control over the state of well-being in our bodies, and there ARE ways we can prevent this pesky morning back stiffness. But first, we must identify the causes
Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
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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:
Whenyour Back Pain Could Be A More Serious Medical Problem
There are a few ways to tellthe difference between spinal stenosis and something more serious:
- Pain that gets worse when going uphill is more common with peripheral arterial disease, a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels leading to the your limbs.
- Arterial disease patients dont get relief from the grocery cart position.
- If your symptoms are worse at night but better with exercise, neuropathy may be to blame.
- In younger people, morning stiffness that lasts longer than 30 minutes and gets worse with stillness may be a sign of inflammatory arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis.
- Other unexplained symptoms such as weight loss and fatigue may be signs of a cancerous growth very rare, but absolutely worth looking into.
Serious issues such asmalignancies or abdominal aortic aneurysms rarely present with spine symptoms,Dr. Khalaf says, but sometimes they do. Theyre serious enough that rulingthem out is important.
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Don’t Skip The Stretch
During exercise, you repeatedly contract and relax your muscles and tendons. If you do not take the time to stretch properly before and after exercise, your tendons can remain shorter and less flexible, causing discomfort, pain and increasing your risk of injury.
Proper stretching increases blood flow and removes wastes from muscles and tendons, so it benefits you even if you’re not an athlete, according to an article published by Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. Before you begin your stretches, it’s important to warm up your muscles and tendons with light exercise such as walking or slow jogging.
Trigger Points: Stepping Stones To Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Myofascial pain is unique in that its associated with trigger pointsareas of tenderness and stiffness within the muscle tissue that reduce your range of motion. Myofascial pain syndrome can occur when you have several areas of active trigger points.2
People often refer to trigger points as knots, as they feel tight and bundled to the touch compared to the suppler surrounding muscle. As the muscle becomes tight, it can cut off its own blood supply, which can trigger muscle tenderness, pain, and further spasm or tightness in the muscle.
Trigger points can form in muscles all over your bodyincluding those in your neck, mid-back, and low back.
One of the common characteristics of trigger points is that they cause referred pain, or pain that travels or spreads to a nearby location . They may also twitch when prodded.
Almost everyone has trigger points, but not every trigger point causes symptoms. Latenttrigger points may reduce your range of motion but will only cause pain when directly palpated or compressed, whereas active trigger points can be painful at any timeeven when youre resting. Lifestyle factors, such as stress and poor posture, can cause a latent trigger point to turn active.
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If Stretching Wont Relieve My Tightness What Will
Lets go back to the example of your shoulder, upper back and neck feeling tight after using a mouse for a few hours. Using a mouse isnt difficult, but it will eventually cause muscle fatigue which induces the sensation of tightness.
But if you strengthen the muscles involved, these minor activities which would usually tire them out become no big deal because you have increased their endurance and strength capacity, that means the muscle is no longer overworking when performing the previously challenging task.
Time and time again, Ive seen patients who were once tight and stiff feel almost complete relief from their symptoms after some targeted strength training.
This leads to an important note about strength. Being strong doesnt necessarily mean youre highly athletic or built like a superhero. Strength is personal, its your capability to comfortably meet the physical demands of your life.
Everyone should be strength training, whether you work at a desk, need to keep up with your kids or want to be able to stay active as you age.
So, if youre always feeling stiff or tight, its not time for you to stretch, its time for you to get stronger!
Ice Heat And Medication Are Enough
I Usually Recover Well with this Method
This method is effective for the immediate treatment of an injury. It does not treat the causes. It merely returns you to a less severe state just before your episode. Causes are less obvious and more complicated to treat.
This method will not prevent it from happening again as it only treats injury and soreness. These are warning signs and not causes. Warning signs give us the opportunity to learn and investigate more into what may be the actual cause. This allows us the opportunity to seek proper treatment necessary for long-term recovery.
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Here Are A Few Other Tips That Might Make It Easier For You To Get Through The Day:
- Morning Stretching: Wake up your muscles and joints by gently stretching before you get out of bed. Bring your knees to your chest to get a lower-back stretch. Also, stretch your arms above your head and reach your feet in the opposite direction. Pay attention to the tight areas of your body, then talk to a physical therapist or doctor about the stretches that could help your situation.
- Core Strength: Building the muscles in your core can improve your overall body structure, helping to reduce the back pain you are experiencing. No, were not talking about hundreds of crunches each day because certain ab exercises can exacerbate the problem. A physical therapist can provide personalized recommendations, which might include planks, stretching, gentle cardio, and other tips to support the overall structure of your body.
- Medications: When the pain is intense, then medication can provide immediate relief to dull the discomfort. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs or acetaminophen. For severe back pain, prescription medications can sometimes be used. But you need to be careful to avoid dependence on these pain relievers. Medication should be used as a short-term strategy until you can address the root problem.
Do Not Ignore Your Calves Feeling Tight
Dr. Kristal Nelson PT
You go for every ball on the court, you play hard. When sore/tight calves are the result thats ok, but when it begins to linger this is a warning. Never take it lightly. Its time to take a look at some things to make sure you are not setting the stage for an Achilles tendon rupture, a devastating injury that can require surgery and take 9-12 months to rehab. So if this has happened to you or if you just want to know how to improve performance and avoid lower leg injury then read on
Achilles Tendon rupture most commonly occurs in young male patients 20-39 years old but the largest rise in incidence occurs in males and females between the ages of 40-59. Playing sports is the most likely mechanism of injury.
Problem 1: THIS IS A BIG ONE listen up! The most common problem related to the lower extremity is the lack of ankle dorsiflexion joint mobility. There is widespread consensus that restricted ankle dorsiflexion can be the cause of multiple orthopedic conditions such as Achilles injuries, knee pain, foot pain, and ACL tears. Here is how you can test your ankle mobility.
During the test, if you feel tight in the front of the ankle, then you have ankle dorsiflexion joint restriction or stiffness. If you feel tight in the calf muscle, then you have muscle tightness .
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Stretches To Reduce Tightness In Your Hamstring
What do you do if the tightness is in the hamstrings instead?
One hamstring stretch that helps reduce pain and stiffness is a lying hamstring stretch. This movement involves lying on your back and lifting the leg with the tight muscle in the air as much as you can. Also keep the extended leg as straight as you can. Use a resistance band or even the wall if you need help getting your leg to fully extend.
You can also do a sitting hamstring stretch. It is the same principle as the lying stretch except you do it in a sitting position. Slowly bend forward at the hip and reach for your feet. If it is too uncomfortable having both legs outstretched, bend one knee and place that foot against the inner thigh of your other leg.
A standing hamstring stretch is a great stretch for runners because you can do it right before you hit the track or trail. To do it, stand with one heel rested against the ground, your toes pointed toward the sky. Place your hands on that legs knee and bend forward at the hip. You should feel it in your hamstring muscle.