Lower Back Pain Image
How do I know what type of lower back pain I have?
Types of Back Pain Acute back pain happens suddenly and usually lasts a few days to a few weeks. Subacute back pain can come on suddenly or over time and lasts 4 to 12 weeks. Chronic back pain may come on quickly or slowly and lasts longer than 12 weeks and occurs daily.
Where is lower back pain usually located?
Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on January 25, 2022 The low back, also called the lumbar region, is the area of the back that starts below the ribcage. Almost everyone has low back pain at some point in life. It’s one of the top causes of missed work in the U.S. Fortunately, it often gets better on its own. When it doesn’t, your doctor may be able to help with several effective treatments. 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 “acute.” It might happen during sports or heavy lifting. Pain that lasts more than 3 months is considered “chronic.” If your pain is not better within 72 hours, you should consult a doctor. See a health care professional any time you have back pain after a fall or injury. The same goes if you have back pain with bowel or bladder control problems, leg weakness, fever, or pain when coughing or peeing. Muscle strain is often the cause of back pain from heavy lifting or vigorous exercise. But sometimes it’s due to small jelly-filled disks meant to protect the space between vertebrae. When one of these disks bulges or breaks, it can push on a nerve. When it’s the sciatic nerve, pain runs from the buttock down one leg. This is sciatica, If your job involves lifting, pulling, or anything that twists the spine, it may contribute to back pain. However, sitting at a desk all day comes with risks of its own, especially if your chair is uncomfortable or you tend to slouch, Although you may wear your purse, backpack, or briefcase over your shoulder, it is the lower back that supports the upper body – including any additional weight you carry. So an overstuffed bag can strain the lower back, especially if you carry it day after day. If you must tote a heavy load, consider switching to a wheeled briefcase. Overdoing it at the gym or golf course is one of the most common causes of overextended muscles leading to low back pain. You’re especially vulnerable if you tend to be inactive during the work week and then spend hours at the gym or softball field on the weekend. Moms were right when they said, “Stand up straight!” Your back supports weight best when you don’t slouch. This means sitting with good lumbar support for your lower back, shoulders back, with feet resting on a low stool. When standing, keep weight evenly balanced on both feet. The spine’s vertebrae are cushioned by gel-like disks that are prone to wear and tear from aging or injuries. A weakened disk may rupture or bulge, putting pressure on the spinal nerve roots. This is known as a herniated disk and can cause intense pain. 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 (grow together). Fibromyalgia causes widespread muscle aches, including back pain.
Most people experience back pain first when they’re in their 30s. The odds of additional attacks increase with age. Other reasons your low back may hurt include:
Being overweightBeing sedentaryLifting heavy stuff on the job
To help your doctor diagnose the source of low back pain, be specific in describing the type of pain, when it started, related symptoms, and any history of chronic conditions. Your doctor will probably not need to order X-rays, CT or MRI scans before starting treatment. Back pain due to muscle strain will usually get better on its own, but you can take steps to make yourself more comfortable. A heating pad or warm baths may provide temporary pain relief. When your back hurts, you may not feel like getting out of bed. But if the problem is muscle strain, doctors recommend returning to your normal activities as soon as possible. Studies suggest that any more than a day or two of bed rest can actually make the pain worse and may reduce muscle tone and flexibility. If back pain doesn’t go away in 3 months, there’s evidence that yoga can help. In one study, people who took 12 weeks of yoga classes had less back pain than those who got a book about back pain. The benefits lasted several months. Just make sure you get expert instruction so you don’t hurt yourself. Chiropractors and some osteopathic doctors may try to move the joints of your spine to treat low back pain. They apply pressure with their hands to bones and surrounding tissues. This treatment is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to tell your provider about all your symptoms and health issues. Massage may relieve chronic low back pain, especially when combined with exercise and stretching. Researchers noted patients who did all three were able to move around easier and had less short-term and long-term pain. Can acupuncture treat back pain? The evidence is mixed for people with short-term back pain. Research showed that these people benefited from sham acupuncture as much as from real acupuncture. However in other studies, people with chronic or long-lasting backpain did show improvement after receiving acupuncture treatments. Mild back pain often feels better with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Pain-relieving creams may be helpful for muscle aches. For severe pain or chronic pain, your doctor may recommend prescription medication. If simpler therapies and medications aren’t helping, your doctor may recommend injections to the back. One procedure, called a nerve root block, targets irritated nerves. Injections for back pain usually contain steroid medication. If long-lasting back pain is interfering with your daily life, and other treatments have not provided relief, you may be a candidate for surgery. Depending on the cause of your pain, a surgeon may remove a herniated disc, widen the space around the spinal cord, and/or fuse two spinal vertebrae together. If back pain has left you inactive for a long time, a rehabilitation program can help you strengthen your muscles and get back to your daily activities. A physical therapist can guide you through stretches, strength exercises, and low-impact cardio that will help you be fitter without straining your back. Strength training can help your lower back. In flexion exercises, you bend forward to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the back and hips. In extension exercises, you bend backward to develop the muscles that support the spine. If you have back pain, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about exercises that are safe for you. There’s no sure way to prevent back pain as you age, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk:
Stay at a healthy weight.Exercise regularly.Lift with your legs, not your back.Make sure your work station position isn’t contributing to your pain.
What is the main cause of lower back pain?
What causes lower back pain? – Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:
Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over. Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions (such as spondylolysis or osteoporosis ) increase the risk of fractures. Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae (small spinal bones). Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear ( herniated disk ). With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection ( degenerative disk disease ). Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine. Disease: Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm, Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.
How long can lower back pain last?
What is back pain? – Back pain is one of most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work. Back pain can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain. There are two types of back pain:
Acute (short-term) back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks. It usually resolves on its own within a few days with self-care and there is no long-term loss of function. Chronic back pain is pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of back pain has been treated.
Risk factors for low back pain
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50 and may become more common as you age. Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit, as their muscles may not properly support the spine. Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on your back and cause pain. Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis that affects the spine), have a genetic component. Job-related factors: Job that requires heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, or twisting or vibrating the spine can injure your back, as can sitting at a desk all day, especially if you have poor posture or sit in a chair with not enough back support. Mental health: Anxiety, mood, and depression can influence how you perceive your back pain and stress can cause muscle tension. Smoking: This can restrict blood flow and oxygen to your 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.
Recommendations for keeping your back healthy
Avoid movements that jolt or strain your back. Exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong and flexible. Consult a physician for a list of low-impact, age-appropriate exercises that are specifically targeted to strengthening lower back and abdominal muscles. Maintain a healthy weight and eat a nutritious diet that promotes new bone growth. Use ergonomically designed furniture and equipment at home and at work. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension. Put your feet on a low stool or a stack of books when sitting for a long time. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. Sleeping on your side with your knees drawn up in a fetal position can help open up the joints in the spine and relieve pressure by reducing the curvature of the spine. Always sleep on a firm surface. Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy. Lift from the knees, keep a straight back, and objects close to the body. Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can contribute to spinal disc degeneration. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis and impedes healing. Coughing due to heavy smoking also may cause back pain.
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What are the 4 categories of low back pain?
Clinical Course – The clinical course of low back pain can be described as acute, sub acute, transient, recurrent, or chronic. Given the high prevalence of recurrent and chronic low back pain and the associated costs, clinicians should place high priority on interventions that prevent (1) recurrences and (2) the transition to chronic low back pain.