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.
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.
What Can I Do To Help With The Pain
Try not to do things that make the pain worse, like sitting for a long time, lifting heavy objects, or bending or twisting.
Stick to your normal activities as much as you can. Gentle exercise like walking helps you get better more quickly.
Some over-the-counter medicines can help pain or swelling. These include ibuprofen , naproxen , and acetaminophen . Your doctor may give you medicine to help with pain or muscle spasms.
Try using heating pads or taking a warm bath or shower.
Your doctor can show you some gentle exercises to help stretch your back and make the muscles stronger.
A physical therapist, massage therapist, or chiropractor may help with your pain and make you feel better.
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Why Do I Have Lower Back Pain When Im Sick With The Flu
The most common question people ask is: Why does the flu cause pain in the back when back pain is not a commonly accepted symptom of influenza?
Its no secret that aches and pains are common with the flu its why we feel drained and achy constantly.
But prolonged and severe back pain just isnt considered typical.
Its exactly those same aches and pains associated with the flu that actually cause such excruciating back pain for some.
When you have the flu, you have elevated levels of molecules known as cytokines and chemokines, which are created by cells affected by flu.
Both cytokines and chemokines are pro-inflammatory. That means they encourage inflammation.
When the levels of both of these molecules are elevated higher than usual with influenza, severe back pain is often the result.
But there are other factors, too.
One of the most common symptoms of the flu is a persistent cough.
Severe bouts of coughing could cause you to pull a muscle in your back, which can obviously cause pain.
Additionally, one of the most serious complications of the flu most common in older adults is pneumonia, which can cause pain in the middle back.
Key takeaway: The flu causes an inflammatory response in your body, which can cause back pain. But flu-related back pain can also be the result of a pulled muscle due to coughing or pneumonia.
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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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.
Why Does My Back Hurt When I Walk
The spine fulfills two important roles in how the body works: its flexible to allow a wide range of movement, but its also the central support column that holds up the body. This means that it can be subjected to a significant amount of strain from daily activities, with some actions being more stressful than others.
Your spine is also the main pathway of your nervous system, so any pain around your back can be significantly more painful than other parts of your body. And since your spine acts as your bodys primary support, any pain or discomfort it experiences can start a cascade of problems.
Additional weight, poor posture, and lifestyle habits are some primary reasons patients develop back pain. These factors put significant stress on your spine in areas where its not built to handle it, which results in acute back pain when you walk. Even your general health affects how your lower back can hold up to pressure: osteoporosis, smoking, and diabetes are all health conditions that can affect your spine.
Another factor to consider is your sleeping position. Because your spine is built to flex and it follows a normal curvature the wrong sleeping position can cause your joints to freeze or twist unnaturally. If you experience a lot of back pain after waking up, your sleeping position may be the cause.
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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.
Back Pain Culprit: Your Bag
Although you may wear your purse, backpack, or briefcase over your shoulder, it is the lower back that supports the upper body — including any additional weight you carry. So an overstuffed bag can strain the lower back, especially if you carry it day after day. If you must tote a heavy load, consider switching to a wheeled briefcase.
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More Advanced Care Options
Surgery When other therapies fail, surgery may be considered to relieve pain caused by worsening nerve damage, serious musculoskeletal injuries, or nerve compression. Specific surgeries are selected for specific conditions/indications. However, surgery is not always successful. It may be months following surgery before the person is fully healed and there may be permanent loss of flexibility. Surgical options include:
Implanted nerve stimulators
- Spinal cord stimulation uses low-voltage electrical impulses from a small implanted device that is connected to a wire that runs along the spinal cord. The impulses are designed to block pain signals that are normally sent to the brain.
- Dorsal root ganglion stimulation also involves electrical signals sent along a wire connected to a small device that is implanted into the lower back. It specifically targets the nerve fibers that transmit pain signals. The impulses are designed to replace pain signals with a less painful numbing or tingling sensation.
- Peripheral nerve stimulation also uses a small implanted device and an electrode to generate and send electrical pulses that create a tingling sensation to provide pain relief.
Complementary And Alternative Techniques Include:
- Acupuncture is moderately effective for chronic low back pain. It involves inserting thin needles into precise points throughout the body and stimulating them , which may cause the body to release naturally occurring painkilling chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
- Behavioral approaches include:
- Biofeedback involves attaching electrodes to the skin and using an electromyography machine that allows people to become aware of and control their breathing, muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature people regulate their response to pain by using relaxation techniques
- Cognitive therapy involves using relaxation and coping techniques to ease back pain
Spinal injections include:Trigger point injections can relax knotted muscles that may contribute to back pain. An injection or series of injections of a local anesthetic and often a corticosteroid drug into the trigger point can lessen or relieve pain.
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The Lumbar Spine What Can Go Wrong
The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides mobility for everyday motions such as bending and twisting. Muscles in the low back are responsible for flexing and rotating the hips while walking, as well as supporting the spinal column. Nerves in the low back supply sensation and power the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
Most acute low back pain results from injury to the muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. The body also reacts to injury by mobilizing an inflammatory healing response. While inflammation sounds minor, it can cause severe pain.
There is a significant overlap of nerve supply to many of the discs, muscles, ligaments, and other spinal structures, and it can be difficult for the brain to accurately sense which is the cause of the pain. For example, a degenerated or torn lumbar disc can feel the same as a pulled muscle both creating inflammation and painful muscle spasm in the same area. Muscles and ligaments heal rapidly, while a torn disc may or may not. The time course of pain helps determine the cause.
Types Of Low Back Pain
If your back pain is short-term — meaning it lasts a few days or a few weeks — doctors call it âacute.â If it has gone on for 3 months or more, itâs considered chronic.
You may hear the term âmechanicalâ low back pain. That means the problem involves the moving parts of your back — disks, vertebrae, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Other names for low back pain include lumbar syndrome and lumbago.
How your back pain feels can vary. You might describe yours as:
It may also radiate down into your butt, hips, or thighs.
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Muscle Injury Damage And Death
Individuals who overwork the muscles can be particularly prone to a condition called rhabdomyolysis. This is characterized by the death of muscle tissue usually as the result of very strenuous activity.
The muscles of the back are some of the most utilized muscles in the body. Simple activities like standing, sitting, walking, and other, seemingly mundane postural actions all require the engagement of the lower back muscles. Combine this with demanding activities like heavy lifting and muscle injury and subsequent damage are certainly a risk.
Individuals who are most at risk of this type of overworking the back muscles are athletes and manual laborers who are consistently pushing their muscles to their limits.
If the muscles are overworked, not only can this lead to back pain and even fevers, but the tissues can die and breakdown, resulting in a release of toxins throughout the system. These toxins and muscle break-down products then enter the bloodstream which can significantly burden the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and in severe cases, potentially even kidney failure,
Treatment of rhabdomylosis depends on the severity of the case. In minor cases, the condition can be addressed with rest and fluid intake to help normalize the blood chemistry. In severe cases that lead to kidney damage, however, hospitalization may be necessary.
It Is Normal Comes With Age And Is Manageable
Not everyone regardless of age wakes up with this particular issue. Age is a factor but is only one of many. Lifestyle, diet, activity, genes, disease, injury and others come in to play. Although almost everyone suffers from occasional pain, but not everyone has the chronic form.
This is a very specific injury. Those without it dont always know why their own back is less affected as compared to yours. There may be some fundamental differences between what your spine needs at this time and what theirs does.
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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.
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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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