Friday, November 25, 2022
HomeEditor PicksWhy Is Back Pain So Painful

Why Is Back Pain So Painful

Is Lower Right Or Left Back Pain Worrisome

Why so many of us struggle with back pain

Pain on one side of the back is not particularly more worrisome than central pain. There are three main kinds of one-sided back pain:

  • Back pain that could occur on either side, but just happens to be on the right or the left exclusively. This is very common. Most ordinary back pain dominates one side of the back.
  • Back pain that comes specifically from structures that exist only on one side. This is a small category.
  • Most of the anatomy of the low back and abdomen is symmetrical. Some of the guts are not symmetrical, and only some of those is a plausible cause of back pain on one side. Heres some of the key anatomy to consider:

    The side of the pain on its own doesnt tell us much, and most of the one-sided sources of pain are viscera that usually cause abdominal pain instead of back pain, or in addition to it. In other words, the only reason to worry about right or left lower back pain is if it is otherwise worrisome: if you have other red flags or significant non-back symptoms.

    Did you find this article useful? Interesting? Maybe notice how theres not much content like this on the internet? Thats because its crazy hard to make it pay. Please support independent science journalism with a one-time donation or RECURRING donation.

    See the donation page for more information & options.

    Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

    Sometimes a pain may develop immediately after you lift something heavy, or after an awkward twisting movement. Sometimes it can develop for no apparent reason. Some people just wake up one day with low back pain.

    Although nonspecific back pain is sometimes called simple back pain, simple does not mean that the pain is mild. The severity of the pain can range from mild to severe. Typically, the pain is in one area of the lower back but sometimes it spreads to one or both buttocks or thighs. The pain is usually eased by lying down flat. It is often made worse if you move your back, cough, or sneeze. So, nonspecific low back pain is mechanical in the sense that it varies with posture or activity.

    Most people with a bout of nonspecific low back pain improve quickly, usually within a week or so, sometimes a bit longer. 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 .

    Muscle Spasms Are The Real Culprit

    Another reason sciatica is associated with intense pain is not related to nerve compression at all: muscle spasms. When a patient with sciatic symptoms is hunched over and cant stand up straight, thats a sign the patient has had a back spasm because of the nerve irritation. As sciatica affects your lumbar spine, the muscles that may spasm following nerve damage are the large, postural back muscles. Because these muscles are so large, youll feel them when they spasm. On the other hand, if you compress a neck nerve root, you wont notice a potential quite as much because the muscles near the cervical spine are much smaller.

    Recommended Reading: Aleve Good For Back Pain

    Ask Your Doctor About Biofeedback

    In recent years, biofeedback a type of mind-body technique that uses electrical sensors to help you make subtle changes in your body has grown in popularity as an effective way to manage back pain. A suggested that biofeedback could reduce the intensity of back pain and muscle tension, both as a standalone treatment and when combined with other treatments.

    What Should I Know About Back Pain

    Back Pain: Why Is It So Common?

    Back pain is a very common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.

    The good news is that in most cases it isnt a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament.

    As far as possible, its best to continue with your normal everyday activities as soon as you can and to keep moving.

    Being active and exercising wont make your back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help you get better. Taking painkillers can help you do this.

    Read Also: Is Aleve Good For Back Pain

    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.

    The Tricky One: Cancer As A Cause Of Low Back Pain And The Necessity Of Testing Just In Case When The Symptoms Justify It

    Sorry I have to use the C word I know its kind of a bummer. But C happens.

    A few cancers in their early stages can be hard to tell apart from ordinary back pain a bone cancer in the vertebrae, for instance and these create a frustrating diagnostic problem. They are too rare for doctors to inflict cancer testing on every low back pain patient just in case. And yet the possibility cannot be dismissed, either! This is an unsolveable problem.

    Most cancers and ominous problems will inevitably start to cause other, distinctive, ominous symptoms, and it wont be long before someone catches on that theres more going on than just back pain. So it truly is an extraordinary circumstance for back pain to be ominous without causing other symptoms that raise the alarm.

    For example, in 2017, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a creepy case of slowly growing neurological deficit caused by a very stealthy cancer, which took a lot of diagnostic effort to solve.25shudder So sneaky cancers happen but they are crazy rare.

    This is an unholy combination of factors: the exact same symptoms can have either an extremely rare but serious cause, or an extremely common but harmless cause that can be greatly aggravated by excessive alarm!

    My favourite epitaph: I told you I was sick!

    Recommended Reading: Mayo Clinic Low Back Pain Exercises

    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.

    References

    Why Does Pain Hurt

    Why do so many people suffer from low back pain?

    How an evolutionary wrong turn led to a biological glitch that condemned the animal kingdom you included to much louder, longer pain

    This is an article about one of the best examples of how pain is weird. And it truly is weird. There are an astonishing number of relatively unknown ways to hurt, and we can probably even learn to hurt as a reflexive response pain as a bad habit, basically.1 At the other extreme, there are all kinds of purely biological mechanisms for pain.

    Some amazing research from the University of Calgary explains that immune cells unnecessarily swarm sterile injury sites, causing damage and pain with no direct benefit a biological glitch with profound implications about why some painful problems are so severe and stubborn.2 Its old news that inflammation often seems like overkill, but we now have a key piece of the puzzle the precise reason for it and confirmation that it is in fact pointless in principle, a lose-lose situation imposed by evolution.

    Biology making your life uncomfortable since you were born!

    Don’t Miss: Advil Vs Ibuprofen For Back Pain

    Can Back Pain Be Prevented

    Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy

    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.

    Also Check: Does Aleve Help With Back Pain

    Why Wouldnt We Evolve Our Way Out Of Such A Crappy Situation

    This is simple but not necessarily obvious: we havent evolved out of this one because the only thing worse than neutrophils that over-react is neutrophils that under-react. Given biology as it is, they have to be the way that they are. Evolution does not dare mess with that over-sensitivity. If neutrophils dont react to mitochondria, then they wouldnt react to real invaders either. And that would be very, very bad.

    So were stuck with the situation. Neutrophils: cant live with em, and cant live without em.

    Awful catch-22s like this are actually quite common in evolution. There are many trade-offs: adaptations that help in one way, but sacrifice something else. As long as there is a net improvement in breeding, evolution is happy with the solution, and some of these trade-offs work out amazingly well: elegant optimizations to serve different goals simultaneously as well as possible, exactly the sort of thing you might say must have been intelligently designed. But many other evolutionary compromises are awkward and ridiculous, and could have been avoided entirely by a designer even a stupid one. Some prominent examples include:

    • the inelegance of a quadrupeds spinal column adapted for use in bipeds15
    • the pure molecular evil of the ATP-binding cassette transporter and its role in multi-drug resistance
    • the eye-roller of our inside-out retina17
    • the septic trap of the appendix18

    Achieve A Healthy Weight

    Why Is Back Pain So Common?

    More than 70 percent of people in the U.S. are overweight and nearly 40 percent are considered obese. Carrying extra weight can significantly strain your back muscles and spine.

    Losing weight can be difficult however, doing so can help control your back pain, prevent the condition from getting worse, and even potentially eliminate the need for pain medication or surgery. If you need help losing weight, request an appointment.

    “There are many alternative treatments for back pain, many of which are easy to do at home and affordable, with no doctors prescription necessary.”

    Carlos Bagley, M.D.

    Don’t Miss: Aleve For Lower Back Pain

    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.

    Back Pain Conditions That Mainly Affect Women

    SeeLower Back Pain Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

    Several conditions are more common in women. Back pain-related problems are typically seen in the post-menopausal age . Read on to learn more about the common causes of back pain in women and the reasons why they occur.

    Pain originating from spasms in your piriformis muscle, a large muscle located deep in the buttock, is called piriformis syndrome.2 Women are affected more due to hormone and pregnancy-related changes in the pelvis.

    Piriformis syndrome often causes irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, mimicking sciatica pain. Piriformis syndrome may cause3:

    • Chronic pain in the buttock and hip area that is worsened by hip movements
    • Pain when you get out of bed
    • Inability to sit for a long time
    • Radiating pain in the back of your thigh and leg

    The symptoms typically get better when you lie on your back.

    Pain from your sacroiliac joint that connects the bottom of your spine to your pelvis is called sacroiliac joint dysfunction or sacroiliitis. SI joint problems are among the more common causes of lower back pain.

    Women typically have a smaller SI joint surface area compared to men, resulting in a higher concentration of stresses across the joint. The sacrum is also wider, more uneven, less curved, and tilted more backward in women, which may cause problems in the SI joint.4

    Degenerative spondylolisthesis can cause9:

    Don’t Miss: Back Pain Cleveland Clinic

    If You Have Chronic Back Pain That Wakes You Up In The Second Half Of The Night It Could Be A Type Of Inflammatory Arthritis Called Ankylosing Spondylitis

    This video is part of a new campaign about ankylosing spondylitis awareness from the nonprofit patient community CreakyJoints. The videos in this campaign were produced with support from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

    If youre reading this article, chances are your back pain is bad so bad that its disrupting your ability to sleep well, which generally makes everything in life worse. Poor sleep can exacerbate pain symptoms, affect daytime fatigue, and contribute to a host of other health problems, from heart disease to weight gain to diabetes.

    Its an important first step that youre taking your back pain at night seriously and looking for answers as to what is causing it.

    Back pain at night could be due a number of different health concerns , but one that often goes overlooked is inflammatory back pain from conditions like ankylosing spondylitis or axial spondyloarthritis . These are types of arthritis that affect your spine and other parts of the body, causing inflammation, chronic pain, and, over time, joint damage that can cause the bones in your spine to fuse together.

    In a study presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, morning stiffness and pain that wakes people up from sleep were the two most common symptoms in people with back pain from inflammatory arthritis like AS.

    Low Back Pain Fact Sheet

    Why Does Back Pain Hurt So Much in the Morning

    If you have had lower back pain, you are not alone. Back pain is one of most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work. Even school-age children can have back pain.

    Back pain can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain. It can begin suddenly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time as we age. Getting too little exercise followed by a strenuous workout also can cause back pain.

    There are two types of back pain:

    • Acute, or short-term back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks. Most low back pain is acute. It tends to resolve on its own within a few days with self-care and there is no residual loss of function. In some cases a few months are required for the symptoms to disappear.
    • Chronic back pain is defined as pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms at one year. Even if pain persists, it does not always mean there is a medically serious underlying cause or one that can be easily identified and treated. In some cases, treatment successfully relieves chronic low back pain, but in other cases pain continues despite medical and surgical treatment.

    Read Also: Will Naproxen Help Back Pain

    What Are Some Other Causes Of Lower Back Pain

    The shape of your spine, and well as spinal diseases, are other culprits in lower back pain. Depending on a range of factors, your doctor may look for:

    Abnormal spinal curvature. A normal spine resembles a gently curved letter S when seen from the side. Abnormal curves include:

    • Lordosis, in which the spine curves too far inward at the lower back
    • Kyphosis, in which the spine is abnormally rounded in the upper back
    • Scoliosis, in which the spine curves from side to side, often in a C shape

    Normal and abnormal curves of the spineArthritis. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, many of which can cause lower back pain. The most common types include osteoarthritis , rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

    Cauda equina syndrome . Compression of the bundle of nerves that forms below the spinal cord in the lumbar spine. It is a rare but serious disorder that requires immediate medical attention and possibly emergency surgery. CES got its name from the fact that the fanned-out bundle of nerves resembles the base of a horses tail.

    Discitis or osteomyelitis.Both infections of discs and bone can cause severe pain and require prompt medical attention.

    Spinal tumors. When cells divide and multiply unchecked, the result is a tumor. Both benign and malignant tumors can cause lower back pain. They can either originate in the spine or metastasize there, meaning theyve spread from somewhere else in the body.

    RELATED ARTICLES

    Most Popular