When To Worry About Low Back Pain
And when not to! Whats bark and whats bite? Checklists nd red flags and non-scary possible explanations for alarmingly back pain
The bark of low back pain is usually much worse than its bite. The pain almost always makes it seem worse than it is. Even when its unusually severe and/or constant, it probably isnt dangerous.
MRI and x-ray for low back pain are surprisingly unreliable,1 because things like bulging discs usually arent a big deal,2 most back pain goes away on its own,3 and trigger points are common and can be worrisomely intense but arent dangerous.4 Most patients are much better off when they feel confident about these things. The power of justified, rational confidence is a huge factor in back pain.5 Sadly, many healthcare professionals continue to perpetuate the idea of fragile backs,6 which undermines that valuable confidence.
When Lower Back Pain Is Serious
As a general rule, if your lower back pain does not subside within 1 to 2 weeks, you should visit your doctor. Odds are that your pain is not a sign of a medical emergency, but a doctor can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan.
A good treatment plan will address your symptoms as well as the underlying condition causing them. Conversely, a wrong diagnosis and treatments can sometimes make your back pain worse.
I Need To Severely Restrict My Activity Because I Have Back Pain
Lets rethink that conclusion.
We lose muscle strength and endurance much faster than we can regain it. Being off work or stopping our exercise deprives our bodies of physical activity for all of our muscles. Being able to take it a little easier while your muscle rebuilds itself is advisable, but long leaves from work or exercise deprive these deep muscles of the regular exercise they need in order to repair themselves. This is why keeping our muscles at their best flexibility, strength, and endurance is so critical. Regular exercise may actually have a preventive effect in terms of frequency of back pain and recurrence.
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Invest In An Ergonomic Workplace Chair
Slumping over forward while operating at a workdesk positions excessive pressure on the discs in your lower back and also can create issues, such as disc deterioration happening or additional degeneration. Support the natural contour in your reduced back by:
Making use of an ergonomic chair that aids you line up and also sustain your back and also upper legs properly
Placing a little rolled-up towel in the small of your back for extra assistance
Making use of a standup desk, when possible for a minimum of part of the day
It is valuable to establish a timer for every single 50 minutes to an hour on your phone to remind yourself to check your pose, walk for a couple of minutes, and also extend your lower back as well as leg muscle mass.
What Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain Actually Work
Unless youve had a major injury, such as a fall or car accident, you probably dont need to rush to the doctor for back pain. You may want to try these simple self-care strategies first.
Avoid bed rest. When lower back pain strikes, people often think complete rest will relieve back pain. However, a review of many clinical studies found that patients who retreated to bed actually experienced more pain and recovered more slowly than patients who stayed fairly active
Use ice and/or heat. Many people find that using ice or cold packs for periods of up to 20 minutes at a time helps reduce pain and swelling. Always wrap ice or a cold pack in a thin towel before putting it on your body so you dont injure your skin. You may also find that heat, such as a heating pad or warm bath, eases pain. Ice is recommended in the first 48 hours after injury then you can try a combo of ice and heat.
Try over-the-counter remedies. Short-term use of OTC pain relievers, such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen, may ease your lower back pain. Also consider OTC creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin. They stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Low Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain. Factors that can increase the risk for low back pain include:
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with advancing age. Loss of bone strength from osteoporosis can lead to fractures, and at the same time, muscle elasticity and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.
Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. Weekend warriorspeople who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all weekare more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise can help maintain the integrity of intervertebral discs.
Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain.
Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis , have a genetic component.
Smoking: It can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.
Backpack overload in children: A backpack overloaded with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the back and cause muscle fatigue.
Upper Back Pain Symptoms
Upper back pain symptoms can differ from person to person. For some, the pain might be mild and go away within a couple days, but for others the pain can worsen and interfere with daily tasks. Upper back pain symptoms and treatment plans can vary greatly depending on the problems underlying cause.
What Is Lower Back Pain
Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.
Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.
How To Relieve Back Pain
The following tips may help reduce your back pain and speed up your recovery:
- stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities this is 1 of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse
- try exercises and stretches for back pain other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful
- take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure
- use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief you can buy these from a pharmacy, or a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel will work just as well
Although it can be difficult, it helps if you stay optimistic and recognise that your pain should get better. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.
Back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
But it’s a good idea to get help if:
- the pain does not start to improve within a few weeks
- the pain stops you doing your day-to-day activities
- the pain is very severe or gets worse over time
- you’re worried about the pain or struggling to cope
If you see a GP they will ask about your symptoms, examine your back and discuss possible treatments.
They may refer you to a specialist doctor or a physiotherapist for further help.
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When Upper Back Symptoms Need Medical Attention
If upper back pain is accompanied by any of the following, it should be checked by a doctor immediately:
- Problems with balance or walking
- Difficulty with bladder or bowel control
- Pins-and-needles tingling, weakness, and/or numbness anywhere in the upper back or below, such as in the chest, stomach, buttock, or down the legs
- Trouble breathing
There Has To Be Some Form Of Sure
Start by being a conscientious consumer.
Once reassured by your doctors that there is no fracture, infection, tumor, or a sinister medical condition that is responsible for your pain, the next step is to look for whether there are any factors that you can use to improve your pain condition.
Research shows back pain treatment to be one of the most-treated conditions in the United States. Consumers expectations are that this pain can be cured with a straightforward medication or procedure.
Think back to the concept that chronic back pain is coming from overactive nerve or pain sensors that are amplified by the spinal cord or brain. Unfortunately, we cannot get into your deep muscles and spinal cord to adjust your microscopic pain filters without harming their various other vital functions. Our approach is to help you address the root causes of your pain by focusing on muscle flexibility, strength, and endurance.
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What Causes Back Pain
Back pains can have numerous reasons. But often no specific cause can be tracked, and the pain will stop. There can be two types of back pains: Chronic and acute. If the pain in the back is present for less than a month, then the pain is acute. And if the pain has been there for a more extended period, then the pain is chronic. Chronic illnesses are often less common than acute pains and last more than three months.
The pain can be caused by injuries such as a fracture, muscle strain or ruptured disk. Medical conditions such as skeletal irregularities, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc. can also be a reason for back pain but are more on the severe side.
The most common causes of back pain can be a persons age, excess weight, lack of exercise, diseases, smoking, psychological conditions, improper lifting, etc.
Chronic Low Back Pain Is Serious But Rarely Ominous
Back pain can suck the joy out of your days for week, months, even years. It can definitely be serious even when its not dangerous. I have worked with many truly miserable chronic low back pain patients, and of course the huge economic costs of back pain are cited practically anywhere the subject comes up. But your typical case of chronic low back pain, as nasty as it can be, has never killed anyone.
Ominous is medical jargon for truly scary. Cue Jaws theme music. Low back pain is ominous when it is caused by something that can cripple or kill you. Such causes are rare, fortunately. But awful things do happen, even the best doctors can miss them .
Ordinary back pain can be fierce & awful but not dangerous. Its bark is almost always much louder than its bite.
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All The Red Flags For Ominous Causes Of Back Pain
Red flags are signs or symptoms that something medically ominous may be going on. Red flags are not reliable, and their presence is not a diagnosis. When you have some red flags, it only indicates a need to look more closely. Sometimes red flags are missing even when there really is something serious going on and sometimes they are a false alarm.21 Check off all that apply hopefully none or few or only the least alarming of them!
Some of these red flags are much less red than others, especially depending on the circumstances. For instance, weight loss is common and often the sign of successful diet! Obviously, if you know of a harmless reason why you have a red flag symptom, it isnt really a red flag . But every single actual red flag in combination with severe low back pain thats been going on for several weeks is definitely a good reason to get yourself checked out.
Most people who check off an item or two will turn out not to have an ominous cause for their low back pain. But why not check?
Sensations That Might Indicate A Medical Emergency
1. Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.2. Radiating pain: This pain “moves” or shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.
3. Sudden weakness in the legs: Limb weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine due to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. However, sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.4. Incontinence: Back pain paired with inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.5. Numbness or pins and needles in the groin or glutes: This is known as saddle anesthesia and is also a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.
If you have leg weakness, incontinence, and numbness together, you might have cauda equina syndrome, a serious illness characterized by spinal cord nerve damage. This is a medical emergency, and patients usually need surgery immediately to decompress the nerves and reduce permanent damage.
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Answers To Common Back Pain Questions
More than eight in 10 people will experience upper, mid, or low back pain at some point in their lives. Low back pain is the most common back pain. In most cases, the pain goes away over time. If your back pain is severe or does not improve, you may need medical care. Here are answers to some common questions about back pain and tips on when to seek help.
How To Get That Back Pain To Finally Go Away
So what does this mean for the treatment of low back pain? Our philosophy is that complex low back and pelvic floor patients need at least an hour of hands-on physical therapy with a pelvic PT who can address both the internal and external aspects of the issue.
However, it can be difficult to find this kind of hands-on treatment philosophy in todays medical world. Some patients do well when working with both a skilled orthopedic and pelvic floor physical therapist concurrently, treating both components of the problem at once. A massage therapist can also be a valuable tool in conjunction with a traditional, internal-only pelvic floor physical therapist. The massage can focus on the glutes, low back, and hamstrings while the pelvic PT resolves internal trigger points.
For sustained relief of lower back pain, often both the pelvic floor and lower back must be looked at together.Not finding a qualified professional in your area or need to create an action plan so you can improve? Schedule a remote consultation with the experts at PelvicSanity today!
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How Long Does Lower Back Pain Last
The actual source of lower back pain may not be fully realized but with time the pain will vanish and damaged or injured tissues heal through treatment. Lower back pain caused by stresses and strains, lifting of heavy objects, over exercising and bad seating or sleeping postures can be resolved within days or few weeks. However, this will be determined by the kind of treatment received or the severity of the damage. In some serious cases such as lower back pain caused due to degenerative conditions like arthritis or severe injuries caused by accidents will need specialized attention and therapy and it will take a little bit long to heal. Lower back pain can be treated easily and quickly if the cause is discovered and addressed.
Onset Of Upper Back Pain Symptoms
Upper back pain symptoms could start any number of ways, including:
- Sudden. Pain could begin immediately after an injury or out of the blue for no apparent reason at all.
- Delayed. Sometimes pain from an injury takes a few hours or longer before it shows up. The reason for this is not always known, but it could be due to an inflammatory process or how pain might be felt in another area of the body before it is noticed in the upper back.
- Gradual. Pain may start out mild and slowly worsen over time.
Sometimes upper back pain comes and goes. Intermittent pain may or may not become worse over time, depending on the cause. Pain could feel worse in the morning and get better during the day, or it might be worse in the evening but feel better after rest.
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Ways To Avoid Back Pain
If youâve been sidelined by a sore back, youâre not alone. Four out of five people experience back pain at some point, making it the second most common reason for visiting the doctor.
Back pain takes various forms, from a persistent dull ache to sudden sharp pain, and has many causes. Sometimes it results from a sprain, fracture, or other accidental injury. It can stem from a disease or medical condition, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or spinal stenosis . Many people develop back pain in part because theyâre overweight or sedentary.
The good news is that most lower back pain usually gets better within a few days or weeks, and surgery is rarely necessary. Whatâs more, simple self-help strategies such as these can be surprisingly effective at preventing back pain and keeping it from returning:
1. Get more exercise. If your back is hurting, you may think the best way to get relief is to limit exercise and to rest. A day or two of rest may help, but more than that may not help the pain. Experts now know that regular physical activity can help ease inflammation and muscle tension.
3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking restricts the flow of nutrient-containing blood to spinal discs, so smokers are especially vulnerable to back pain.