Lower Back Hurts When Walking Or Standing
Your lower back provides support and stability to your body when youre in an upright position. Each vertebra is separated by a jelly-filled disc that serves as a cushion. These discs can become inflamed when standing for long periods of time. They can also experience wear and tear with age. Standing or walking for extended periods of time may aggravate this inflammation, resulting in pain.
How Is Musculoskeletal Pain Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider starts a diagnosis by taking a thorough medical history. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions to determine:
- If you have other symptoms, such as a rash or fever.
- Whether your pain is acute or chronic.
- Which factors make pain worse or relieve it.
Then, your healthcare provider does a hands-on exam to look for the pains source. Your provider may touch or move the affected area.
Back Muscles That Cause The Most Back Pain
Back pain is one of the top reasons for missed work and second only to upper-respiratory infections for causing doctor visits.
Most of the time, back muscle pain is diagnosed then treated with little more than a prescription of rest, painkillers and muscle relaxants.
Follow this advice and youre taking one more step down the path to more serious back pain and possibly doctor-recommended back surgery to deal with it.
And its all because youve never been told why you have back muscle pain or how to get lasting relief by treating the cause rather than the symptoms.
That all ends today as we pull back the covers and see exactly what is going on why your back hurts which muscles are behind your back pain and most importantly, what you can do about it .
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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.
Nonsurgical Treatments To Help You Stand Straighter And Longer Without Pain
The talented team of professionals at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine can design a treatment program especially for you that may include one or more of the following injection approaches or interventions. It should be noted that very often such pain complaints can be successfully treated without any type of injection procedure as the judicious use of medications and a personalized physical rehabilitation program may well suffice:
- Spinal epidural injections administered under fluoroscopic guidance to target the site of your pain
- Facet joint injections to address painful joints of the spine for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and possibly radiofrequency denervation to address the nerves which carry pain signals from the painful segments
- Acupuncture in which tiny needles are inserted painlessly into the skin to increase energy flow and release endorphins that act as natural painkillers
- PEMF technology that uses varying frequencies of electromagnetic waves to diminish or eliminate back pain and accelerate healing
One of our experienced physiatrists can diagnose the cause of your pain precisely and prescribe a physical therapy program that will strengthen your back without doing you any harm. He or she can also provide a broad range of treatment options that may help to resolve your lower back issues so that you can once again enjoy socializing at parties or social events without being the person who always has to sit down.
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Can You Tell If Your Back Pain Is From Covid
Not necessarily. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the U.S., impacting eight out of 10 people in their lifetime, according to Medline Plus. Given how many people struggle with back pain, its tricky to know for sure if your pain is from COVID or one of the many other common causes that can lead to back aches, says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York.
The overwhelming number of people that have back pain do not have COVID, Dr. Russo says. But, he adds, its important to look at your back pain in the context of everything else thats going on with your health. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 in addition to back pain that are more common with COVID, such as respiratory tract symptoms and loss of taste and smell, that would be a signal that your back pain could be due to COVID, he says.
He also recommends suspecting COVID if you suddenly develop back pain and you know youve recently been exposed to someone with the virus. But back pain alone, without anything else, should not make you suspect COVID, Dr. Russo says.
Really, the only way to know if your back pain might be linked to COVID is to test yourself, Dr. Russo says. The best thing to do to ease your concerns is to go ahead and get tested, he says. Thats a way to evaluate this more objectively.
Back Pain Culprit: Chronic Conditions
Several chronic conditions can lead to low back pain.
- Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, which can put pressure on the spinal nerves.
- Ankylosing spondylitis inflames the joints of the spine, and sometimes the shoulders, hips, ribs, and other areas too. It causes chronic back pain and stiffness. In serious cases, spinal vertebrae start to fuse .
- Fibromyalgia causes widespread muscle aches, including back pain.
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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.
What Structures Make Up The Back
The lower backwhere most back pain occursincludes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.
Other regions of vertebrate are cervical , thoracic , and sacral and coccygeal segments.
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Take It Slow When Getting Up
Taking it slow when you get out of bed can be beneficial. You may want to use your arms to sit up slowly before moving your legs off the side of the bed. Once you plant your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart, you can stand up slowly, using your leg strength instead of your back to help you up.
After carefully standing, you can further relieve tension by reaching your arms up above your head and stretching slowly from side to side.
Change Up Your Sleep Position Or Mattress
Switching to a more supportive sleep position can reduce lower back pain. Also consider how you can use pillows or invest in a new mattress to support better spinal alignment and relieve lower back pain.
Research suggests medium firm mattresses are the best mattresses for back pain. In one study of people with low back pain, those who slept on medium firm mattresses reported lower pain scores both during sleep and upon getting up in the morning.
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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:
How Can I Prevent Low Back Pain
You can prevent low back pain with physical therapy, exercises, and stretching. Supports and back belts do not prevent low back pain.
Keep in shape, lose weight if you are overweight, and exercise regularly. Being inactive can lead to low back pain. Regular exercise like walking, swimming, or biking is good for your back. These activities put less stress on your back than sitting and standing.
Don’t lift heavy objects by bending over at the waist. Bend your hips and knees and then squat to pick up the object. Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. Don’t twist your body while you are lifting.
If you have to sit at your desk or drive for a long time, take breaks to stretch.
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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.
Possible Causes Of Pain When Standing
In some cases, your pain may be caused by a strain, a sprain, or simple muscle fatigue. If the pain has appeared after overexertion, an accident, or a sports injury, you may have stretched or twisted a tendon or ligament . Other causes of pain while standing include:
- Spinal stenosis a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on spinal nerves
- Hyperlordosis curvature of the lower spine
- Herniated disc when part of a disc that acts as a cushion between two vertebrae, slips out of place, possibly compressing a nerve
- Spondylolisthesis when a lumbar vertebra slips forward onto the bone beneath it
- Neuropathy damage to peripheral nerves that may cause weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands and feet
- Osteoarthritis damage to joints of the spine, known as facet joints, usually as a result of aging
- Pinched nerves resulting from pressure from bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons
- Sciatica pressure on the sciatic nerve that causes pain in the hips, buttocks, and legs
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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
Symptoms Of Low Back Pain
These might range from a dull ache to a stabbing or shooting sensation. The pain may make it hard to move or stand up straight. Pain that comes on suddenly is âacute.â It might happen during sports or heavy lifting. Pain that lasts more than 3 months is considered âchronic.â If your pain is not better within 72 hours, you should consult a doctor.
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Signs Your Back Pain Might Be An Emergency
In our 20s and 30s, normal back pain often can be attributed to factors of daily life, such as sitting too long, picking up children, or overdoing it while exercising.
In our 40s and older, work injuries and the beginnings of arthritis and degenerative conditions are more common.
Back pain is so common, in fact, that many patients shrug off symptoms that might indicate a medical emergency.
Approximately 80% of adults will experience back pain in their lives, so its important to be able to identify the severity of your symptoms and track how long the pain lasts.
If back pain can be associated with a specific activity, such as lifting or twisting wrong, and the pain goes away within 72 hours after resting and applying ice, its usually nothing to worry about. However, if pain creeps on gradually, appears suddenly, or doesn’t go away, you might have a more serious condition.
Upper Back Pain When Sitting
Many people experience pain in their necks and upper backs as a result of craning forward while sitting to look at a computer monitor or phone display. Although its tempting to sprawl out and watch television for hours, this can also easily throw your back out of alignment.
That uncomfortable feeling of stiffness when you finally do move or stand up is telling you something.
Better posture makes a difference.
Its likely your parents or teachers cautioned you to sit up straight when you were a child, and with good reason.
Sitting in one position too long isnt healthy. Doing it with your back rounded forward, slumped to one side, or leaning too far back can put stress on parts of your spine for an extended period. This can lead to pain, as well as other issues.
To help you sit straighter, position your body along an imaginary straight line extending the length of your back, out of your head, and up to the ceiling. Keep your shoulders level and dont let your pelvis rotate forward. Doing so causes a curve in your lower back.
If you sit up perfectly straight, youll feel the small of your back stretch and lengthen.
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When Is Lower Back Pain An Emergency
Most episodes of lower back pain eventually resolve on their own, but there are times when you should seek urgent medical attention. Some of these situations include:
- Patient is a child
- Pain is severe, constant, suddenly or progressively worsens, and/or doesnt go away
- Pain interrupts sleep
While some situations may warrant immediate intervention, most cases are not urgent and can be scheduled at a time convenient for the patient.
Exercise And Physical Therapy
Aside from aging, prolonged inactivity is a significant factor in developing sciatica. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle or dont get a lot of physical exercise, your joints and muscles will stiffen and freeze up. This can make standing, walking, or even sitting down painful.
Inactivity isnt solely caused by lifestyle choices either its also a frequent consequence of traumatic injuries or conditions that force the patient to stay in bed. Even after recovery, any kind of movement will be painful since the spine isnt used to bearing the bodys weight anymore.
Physical exercise is one of the best ways to address chronic pain. However, older patients need to balance the need for physical exercise with their special considerations. In cases like these, physical therapy is a better alternative since medical staff will be close by to assist them.
Exercise and physical therapy are two of the most effective ways to alleviate mild-to-moderate sciatica. Your therapist will put you through a strict training regimen designed to loosen your joints and strengthen your muscles, allowing your spine to better support your weight. They may also recommend some exercises that you can follow at home.
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