What Does It Mean If Lower Back Pain Is Shooting Into Legs
Lower back pain can radiate to other parts of the body: up or down from its place of origin. Sometimes lower back pain can be on one side of the back, which is also normal.
If the pain is shooting from the lower back into one or both legs, it could be sciatica , but its not always the case. There are many parts in the lower back that may cause the pain to radiate into the legs, such as facet joints, sacroiliac joints, muscles or inflammation of the bursa.
Chronic Lower Back Pain
When back pain continues for more than three months, it is considered chronic. Although for most people an episode of back pain is over by that time, in some cases it progresses and can have a major impact on ones ability to function. For some patients, physical therapy with local heat or ice application , combined with a home exercise program and education in proper positions for lifting and other movement techniques can make a major difference. Patients must learn to tolerate a certain degree of pain, or they may allow themselves to become more disabled than necessary. Patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery have had success with graded exercise to work through the pain, gradually increasing the exercise quota at each session so they can learn to tolerate more exercise in spite of the pain, and get back to work and activities. Read more detail on this topic in .
What Are The Symptoms Of Lumbar Strain
. Each person’s symptoms may be different. Symptoms may include:
- Sudden lower back pain
- Spasms in the lower back that result in more severe pain
- Lower back feels sore to the touch
Some of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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When To See A Doctor
There is not always an obvious cause of lower back pain, and it often gets better on its own. Resting, trying hot or cold therapy, taking OTC pain relievers, and gently stretching may help speed up recovery.
However, a person should see a doctor for lower back pain that is severe, does not seem to be getting better, or occurs alongside other concerning symptoms, such as tingling or numbness down the legs.
People with lower back pain should seek immediate medical attention if they also have any of the following symptoms:
- difficulty walking or moving the legs
- loss of bowel or bladder function
- loss of sensation in the legs
- very severe pain
A doctor can help a person identify potential causes of lower back pain and recommend appropriate treatment.
Do Springs Cause Sagging
An uneven mattress, or sagging mattress can occur when an open coil spring unit is present. This is a spring unit whereby all springs are interconnected and donât work independently. Because of this all springs compress under the weight of your body all of the time, and lose their âspring reflexâ more quickly than a pocket sprung unit.
Image courtesy of beddingcomponents-intl.com
In a pocket spring mattress, each spring sits in its own pocket, and works independently from all other springs. Because of this, as you move into different positions through the night less springs are compressed less often. Allowing each spring to keep its âspring reflexâ and support your body fully, for longer, when its turn to do so arises. Its unusual for a pocket spring mattress to cause you back pain because of failure in the springs.
Image courtesy of beddingcomponents-intl.com
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Muscle Strain: The Most Common Cause
Following a slip on the ice, a night of sleeping in a contorted position, or perhaps after swinging a golf club, you may feel a sharp pain in the lower left side of your back. This pain is likely from an overstretched or torn muscle, and this kind of injury is known as a muscle strain.
A muscle strain is the most common cause of lower left back pain, so your doctor will likely want to begin the diagnosis process by testing for this type of injury. She or he will ask for a comprehensive medical history, and then may perform a physical examination to check for the following:
- Localized tenderness
- A defect that signals a rupture in the muscle
- Discomfort during range of motion exercises
- Muscle weakness
While your pain may be severe, the silver lining is that lower left back pain caused by muscle strain will typically clear up in a few days .
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Are Restless Leg Syndrome Multiple Sclerosis Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Plantar Fasciitis Shingles Or Bursitis Related To Sciatica
While all these conditions affect either the spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments or joints and all can cause pain, none are directly related to sciatica. The main causes of these conditions are different. Sciatica only involves the sciatic nerve. That being said, the most similar condition would be carpal tunnel syndrome, which also involves a compression of a nerve.
A final word about sciatica. . . .
Most cases of sciatica do not require surgery. Time and self-care treatment are usually all thats needed. However, if simple self-care treatments do not relieve your pain, see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can confirm the cause of your pain, suggest other treatment options and/or refer you to other spine health specialists if needed.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2020.
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A Guide To Lower Left Back Pain
Low back pain is sometimes felt only on one side of the body, either as a constant pain or as an ache that flares up for a time then subsides. Lower left back pain may be severe, sharp, and stabbing, or it may be a dull but constant ache. Some lower left back pain is alleviated or worse with movement and sensitive to pressure.
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
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Getting Out Of Bed Improperly
How a person gets out of bed can be vital to preventing early morning aches and pains. Even if a person is well-rested, rising too quickly or bending too far forward when getting out of bed can place a strain on the back.
To reduce the risk of morning back pain and stiffness, a person should follow these steps:
- Begin by moving slowly to the edge of the bed.
- Using the arms for leverage, transfer to a sitting position with the legs dangling off the side of the bed.
- After taking a few seconds to adjust to this position, slowly place the feet on the floor and stand up.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Serious Problem
Very rarely back pain or pain that travels down the leg is a sign of a serious problem.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention:
- difficulty controlling or passing urine
- loss of control of your bowels
- numbness around your back passage or your genitals
- serious weakness in your legs so you find standing really difficult
- severe and ongoing back pain that gets worse over several weeks.
The above symptoms could potentially be linked to a rare but serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.
When To Call A Doctor
Consult your doctor if you have back pain thats intense, worrisome, or that doesnt go away with self-care measures. Its also important to call your doctor if your lower back pain is making it hard for you to go about your daily activities.
Most cases of lower back pain on the right side are not medical emergencies. However, dont hesitate to get immediate medical help if you experience back pain thats accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- loss of bladder or bowel function
- sudden, severe pain
- weakness or loss of sensation in your lower body
- pain accompanied by fever, clammy skin, a rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, or any other concerning symptoms
The appropriate treatment for lower back pain emergencies depends on the cause. If the source of the pain isnt obvious, you may need one or more of the following screenings to determine the right course of action:
- an MRI to check your spinal cord, nerve roots, and other soft tissue
- an X-ray to look at your spine and other joints for signs of fracture or other concerns
- blood tests to check for markers of inflammation
If nerve or muscle problems are the cause of lower back on the right, epidural injections of corticosteroids may be necessary if the pain and loss of mobility and function are severe.
If appendicitis is diagnosed and it cant be managed by antibiotics, then emergency surgery to remove the appendix may be necessary.
- nerve compression in your spine
- disc degeneration
- an abdominal aortic aneurysm
Complementary Alternative Emerging Treatments
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered current standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
. 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.
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.
. 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 Are Diagnostic Tests For Lower Back Pain Necessary
Many patients do not need X-rays in the first few weeks of pain because their pain will end up resolving. Many more do not need CT scans or MRI imaging, which are overly sensitive and often reveal abnormalities not related to the patients pain. These forms of imaging can be extremely useful, however, if a person has chronic or severe pain, and/or neurological symptoms. Blood tests may be ordered if an infection or tumor is suspected.
Look For Zoned Support
Some mattresses like the Level Sleep mattress offer zoned support or zoned firmnesses so that you can experience more support around your lower back and greater pressure relief around your shoulders and head.
This can help to promote better posture and reduce pressure more effectively when compared to a mattress that has the same amount of support/firmness across the entire surface area of the mattress.
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Why Does My Back Hurt 10 Common Causes Of Back Pain
Jul 8, 2019 | Chiropractic Care
If you wake up each morning and find yourself asking why does my back hurt? youre not alone. Chronic back pain is a major issue affecting more than 29 percent of the population ages 18 and over.
Unfortunately, pinpointing what causes your back pain can be tough. Its rare that anyone can identify precisely what causes their back pain to flare up. But if you can recognize the common causes, youll be better able to prevent that pain from coming back.
Here are some of the most common causes of back pain.
Causes Of Osteoarthritis In The Lower Back
Internal injury to the facet joints is the most common cause of osteoarthritis of the spine. Smooth cartilage lines the surfaces of the facet joints to allow for mobility as the two sides of the joint rub against each other. However, the following procedures can cause discomfort in the joint:
- One side of the facet joints cartilage is injured. The damaged cartilage grinds against its neighbor every time the spine flexes, producing friction and additional inflammation on both sides.
- Inflammation is caused by joint injury and friction.
- The inflamed facet joints provide a pain signal through a single nerve that travels through the facet joint.
- The back muscles spasm as a result of this signal.
- Low back pain is caused by a combination of muscle spasms and joint inflammation.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the lower backs facet joints. When compared to the amount of bodyweight they support, the joints are fairly small. The accompanying tension and strain put them at risk of cartilage damage and injury. The joints degrade as a result of the accumulation of damage throughout a lifetime.
Torn discs can also result in facet joint failure. The spines discs serve as shock absorbers. They feature a hard exterior and a soft inside. The stress is absorbed by the soft inner section. Degeneration or damage can cause the rigid outer layer to tear. Due to the inability of torn discs to absorb tension and strain, excessive force is delivered to the facet joints.
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Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain
There are three major lifestyle factors that may affect your chances of developing lower back pain:
- Multiple studies have established a link between smoking and lower back pain. Smoking raises inflammation inside the body and hinders the body from healing itself.
- Obesity is also associated with several types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. In people with high body mass index , the stress on the spine increases, contributing to even more wear and tear.
- Your level of physical activity can also play a role in your lower back health. While a sedentary lifestyle could increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so can excessive or strenuous physical activity. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ideal level of physical activity.
You Wake Up With Pain
Nearly two out of five American adults feel back pain, making it one of the most common pain types in the United States. Though women and older adults are more susceptible to these aches, all children and adults could be at risk, depending on the source.
If your bed is to blame for your back pain, youll likely start feeling it upon waking up or getting out of bed. It may feel like a centralized pain point or a more generalized, dull ache. While some sleep-related pain could be due to your sleep position or the previous days activities, its time to evaluate your sleeping arrangements if the pain lingers or worsens throughout each day.
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When To Worry About Back Pain Thats Only On The Left Or Right Side
Unless you experienced an obvious cause, like a fall, you probably arent dealing with a fracture that requires special care, says spine specialist Russell DeMicco, DO. Rarely do you need to worry just because your pain is only on the left side or right side of the back.
The exceptions are:
- Age: An older adult may experience a minor injury that results in a more serious condition either because they have low bone density, or they developed arthritis that causes pain.
- Athleticism: Athletes may experience greater musculoskeletal wear and tear than the general population. Theyre often more vulnerable to fractures, herniated disks or arthritis.
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Changes In The Mattress Structure
If there are visible sagging, body impressions, and/or indentations in your mattress deeper than 1.5-2 inches then these changes in the structure of your mattress could be a signal that your mattress is the root cause of your back pain.
In particular, if the integrity of the lower support core has been compromised then this is a strong indicator that your mattress is causing your back pain because the support cores primary function is to uphold your body weight and maintain good posture.
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Low Back Pain Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with a specific cause of low back pain is the first step to getting treatment. If you land in your doctors office hoping for back pain relief, theyll use a variety of diagnostic tools and methods, such as:
A thorough medical history including any recent injuries, other diagnoses, family history of disease, and your job, activities and other lifestyle considerations
Physical exams, which may include manipulating the painful area or reflex or other neurological tests
Electromyography, which measures muscle and nerve function
ImagingX-rays can show bone spurs and damage to bone, while CT scans and MRIs can depict damage to soft tissue like discs or ligaments