Managing Low Back Pain
Manage back pain with regular exercise and professional help as requiredIf you have an attack of lower-back pain that is severe, continuous and not improving, assessment and treatment by a health care professional who focuses on the back or other musculoskeletal problems may help. These practitioners may use both active and passive techniques to help you feel better. Examples of passive techniques that may be used to get you moving include:
An active approach, like walking or water aerobics is usually the most effective. Exercise is often the best way to relieve lower-back pain.
Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
Work with an expert. It may help to work with a health professional who can explain which activities are right for you.
Choose exercises you enjoy. Many activities can help relieve back pain. Try to include activities that strengthen the muscles around your trunk, your abdominal muscles as well as those in your lower back. Studies show the following activities help relieve back pain:
- Lifting light weights
What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
The Universal Guide To Lower Back Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
In This Article: Lower Back Anatomy | How Long Does Lower Back Pain Usually Last? | Common Causes | Other Causes | Home Remedies | Nonsurgical Treatments | Complementary, Alternative, and Emerging Treatments | Surgery | When Is Lower Back Pain an Emergency? | Lower Back Pain Prevention |
If youve ever had lower back pain stop you from doing what you want, youre not alone. Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the world. It is a leading reason why people visit a doctor, affecting more than 80% of adults at some point in their lives. According to the Global Burden of Diseasea significant study published in the Lancet medical journallower back pain is also a leading cause of disability.
While severe lower back pain can cause worry, pain severity is not always an indication something is seriously wrong. Photo Source: Shutterstock.
You may not be able to prevent lower back pain, especially as you age and your back loses some strength and resilience. Fortunately, there are many ways you can get relief, no matter the cause of your back pain.
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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.
Unexplained Acute Low Back Pain
Unexplained low back pain means chronic pain that comes on gradually, over time, with no specific injury, event, or illness causing it.
- Prolonged sitting and lack of fitness can weaken back muscles and cause pain from lack of support.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis.
- Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord.
- Certain types of cancer, in rare cases.
Those most susceptible are over 30, overweight and/or pregnant, and not physically fit. Smoking interferes with healing after any sort of stress to the back.
If there are additional symptoms, medical care should be sought: fever, unexplained weight loss, leg weakness or numbness, or trouble urinating.
An exact diagnosis is made through blood tests and through imaging such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI.
Once more serious causes are ruled out, treatment may include medications to ease pain, swelling, and inflammation. Steroid injections are useful in some cases.
Overall, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can be very helpful with easing chronic low back pain.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, back pain
Symptoms that always occur with unexplained acute low back pain:lower back pain
Symptoms that never occur with unexplained acute low back pain:buttocks numbness, thigh numbness, involuntary defecation, fever
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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 Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
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Can Further Bouts Of Back Pain Be Prevented
Evidence suggests that the best way to prevent bouts of low back pain is simply to keep active and to exercise regularly. This means general fitness exercise such as walking, running, swimming, etc. There is no firm evidence to say that any particular back strengthening exercises are more useful to prevent back pain than simply keeping fit and active. It is also sensible to be back-aware. For example, do not lift objects when you are in an awkward twisting posture.
Why Do I Get Lower Back Pain When Walking Or Standing For Long Periods
Back pain is never pleasant. However, when you know the root of the problem , you can look for ways to be mindful in attempts to reduce it.
On the other hand, sometimes you can feel pain from simply walking or standing for long periods of time. You may think youre doing everything right, yet the discomfort is still there, as a daily reminder that something is not right.
If your work duties or other responsibilities require you to walk or stand for extended time frames, what can you do to keep the pain at bay?
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Stressful Living Conditions And Poor Work Habits
This may exacerbate the symptoms of low back pain and may even create a flare-up of pain following periods of increased tension. Stress does affect your spine and can lead to pain, so here are some ways to reduce stress in your life:
Utilizing stress management is an important tool to help improve emotional factors in your life.
You may cope better by understanding the nature of yourinjury and taking the appropriate steps necessary to eliminate back pain and provide for a healthy back.
Take 5 minutes to sit quietly when you get home from work.
Talk to a close friend.
Do an activity you enjoy .
Chronic Or Acute Pain
- Acute pain starts suddenly and lasts for up to 6 weeks.
- Chronic or long-term pain develops over a longer period, lasts for over 3 months, and causes ongoing problems.
If a person has both occasional bouts of more intense pain and fairly continuous mild back pain, it can be hard for a doctor to determine whether they have acute or chronic back pain.
Back pain usually resolves with rest and home remedies, but sometimes medical treatment is necessary.
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Fractures And Lower Back Pain
are often very difficult pain problems and indicate the possible presence of . In patients with severe osteoporosis, spinal fractures can occur with no early warning and no significant trauma the patient does not have to fall to fracture a vertebrae.
Patients with spinal compression fractures experience spasms and, often, very high pain levels.
In patients with low back pain where the cause is difficult to determine, especially for elderly patients with osteoporosis, a fracture in the sacrum may be the cause of the pain. A standard X-ray or bone scan may not show a sacral fracture. Imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI can often reveal these fractures.
It is very important that patients with acute lumbar compression fractures be tested for osteoporosis. A bone density study is needed, unless the patient has no other osteoporosis risk factors and has had a very high impact fracture. Studies have shown that many patients with fractures in the U.S. are discharged from hospitals with no plans for management of their bone density problems, which then are left to worsen.
Although pain can be very intense, it is best for patients with lumbar fracture to resume activity as soon as possible. This is especially true for elderly patients, who can too easily become weakened, and develop other complications, if mobility is reduced for too long. may be needed for pain control, for as brief a period as possible.
Surgery For Lower Back Pain
Because the vast majority of patients recover from their low back pain with little help from a doctor, the rationale behind choosing surgery must be convincing. Eighty percent of patients with sciatica recover eventually without surgery.
Severe progressive nerve problems, bowel or bladder dysfunction and the cauda equina syndrome make up the most clear-cut indications for back surgery. Back surgery will also be considered if the patients signs and symptoms correlate well with studies such as MRI or electromyogram .
In the most serious cases, when the condition does not respond to other therapies, surgery may well be necessary to relieve pain caused by back problems. Some common procedures include:
- , such as a or removal of a portion of a
- a bone graft that promotes the vertebrae to fuse together
- removal of the lamina to create more space and reduce irritation and inflammation
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How Is Back Pain Diagnosed
Most people who develop low back pain that comes on suddenly have nonspecific low back pain. If there are no other associated symptoms and the pain is not too bad, many people are confident to just ‘get on with it’ and treat it themselves – and indeed most get better quickly. However, if in doubt, see your doctor for a check-over and advice.
A doctor will usually want to ask questions about your symptoms and to examine you. Basically, the symptoms are usually as described above, with no other worrying symptoms to suggest anything serious or another cause of back pain . The examination by a doctor will not detect anything to suggest a more serious cause of back pain. Therefore, a doctor can usually be confident from his or her assessment that you have nonspecific back pain.
As a general guide, if any of the following occur then it may not be nonspecific low back pain, and there may be a more serious underlying cause. But note: the vast majority of people with low back pain do not have any of the following symptoms or features. They are included here for completeness and as an aid to what to look out for and to tell your doctor should they occur.
Back Pain In The Morning: What Are Some Possible Causes
For many patients, morning back pain isnt a symptom of a larger spinal issue, but a manifestation of other bad habits. Before seeking professional help, consider common environmental causes of back pain:
Bad Mattress: Firm bedding supports your spine better through the night, and well-worn, cratered mattresses may aggravate your back while you sleep.
Poor Sleep Position: Sleeping on your stomach causes your lower back to extend, placing it under pressure. Side sleepers who dont bend their knees may also be irritating their backs as they sleep.
Poor Ergonomics: Bad posture? Work in a bad environment? Your ergonomics may take a toll on your back that worsens at night when youre still.
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When Is Not Helpful
Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a health care provider. The good news is that the pain often goes away on its own, and people usually recover in a week or two. Many people want to stay in bed when their back hurts. For many years, getting bed rest was the normal advice. But current studies recommend no bed rest at all and stress that staying in bed longer than 48 hours not only wont help but it may, in fact, actually delay your recovery. Heres why:
Staying in bed wont help you get better faster.If youre in terrible pain, lying down for a day to help ease the distress may seem like a good idea, but moderating your activities and staying active in a limited way is a more effective way to control your symptoms. Research suggests that if you can find comfortable positions and keep moving, you may not need bed rest at all.Research shows that:
- Lying down longer than a day or two day isnt helpful for relieving back pain.
- People can recover more quickly without any bed rest.
- The sooner you start moving, even a little bit, or return to activities such as walking, the faster you are likely to improve.
When To See A Doctor
Lower back pain, when standing or walking, is not always a cause for concern and may get better with home treatment, such as rest, OTC pain relievers, hot and cold therapy, and gentle stretching.
A person should see their doctor if the pain is severe, does not get better, or occurs along with other concerning or debilitating symptoms.
People with lower back pain should seek immediate medical attention if they experience loss of bowel or bladder control or leg movement becomes severely affected.
Some tips to help prevent lower back pain include:
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Where possible, try doing a mixture of low- and high-intensity physical activities exercises, such as bike riding, walking, aerobics classes, swimming, or using an elliptical machine.
- Practicing good posture when walking, such as by keeping the back straight and avoiding leaning too far forward or slumping.
- Making appropriate adjustments to workstations to improve ergonomics. Examples include placing the computer screen at eye level and using a supportive and properly-adjusted chair.
- Using proper lifting techniques, including holding an object as close as possible to the body, maintaining a wide stance, bending from the legs and not the back, and avoiding lifting objects that are too heavy.
- Eating a healthful, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
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Get Help For Your Back Pain Today At The Spine And Rehab Group Ny
Back pain has many causes but should always be checked by a medical expert before it gets worse. Ignoring back pain doesnt just result in a dip in your quality of life you can also ignore potential signs of a more serious health problem.
The Spine And Rehab group has extensive experience in helping our clients manage their back pain, with certified doctors and experts always on call. We pride ourselves on fostering a partnership with each of our patients to help them regain a normal and painless daily routine. If youre experiencing back pains of any kind, visit one of our New York clinics today.