The back and spine are our primary source of stability, but did you know up to 80% of people will experience some form of back pain in their lives?
Because we have so many muscles, bones, and connective tissues in our spinal area, it can be a surprisingly delicate area. Even moving in just the wrong way can damage a ligament or tear a muscle.
Despite our best efforts, however, sometimes we still end up with an injury or back pain that just doesn’t seem to get better.
We’re here to help. With the right course of medical attention and physical therapy, it’s possible to recover from almost any kind of injury or pain. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about your lower back pain.
What Causes Pain in the Lower Back?
It’s challenging to identify the exact cause of lower back pain. Sometimes the pain may come from nothing more than a pulled muscle, and in others, it could be more severe.
In most cases, mechanical issues and soft-tissue damage are the cause, but these injuries can arise from damage to the intervertebral discs, compression of the nerves, and even something as simple as improper movement of the spinal joints.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these root causes.
Muscle strains are minor injuries, though they can be annoying and frustrating to live with. They’re usually caused by something simple, like bending down to pick up something heavy or twisting uncomfortably while maintaining a cumbersome load.
You may experience a sharp pain in the lower right side of your back, or stabbing pain in the lower left side of your back. This may feel like tingling, a radiating ache, or mild burning. Other indications may be a stiff back, aching muscles, or pain that gets worse if you move in a specific direction.
You can often treat muscle strains can often at home and they will go away in a few days or weeks.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to the spinal reason can arise from several scenarios but are usually the result of a high-impact collision, whether that’s from a car accident, a fall, or even a nasty knock in a sports game.
If you’re experiencing lower back pain following one of these events, be sure to contact your doctor as it could indicate something more serious, like a fracture or slipped disk.
The sciatic nerve extends from the back to the legs, so it is significant in length. Sciatica pain refers to pain caused by pressure on the nerve. Sciatica pain may come from a recent injury, such as a herniated disk, or a long-term problem, like poor posture.
Sciatica pain can develop over time or strike in one moment. It can range from a mild, dull ache to an excruciating tearing feeling. People often describe the pain as warm or acute, and it typically extends down one side of the lower back to the hips or buttocks.
While pain in the lower back may result from an injury, in plenty of cases it may also be a symptom of a larger, chronic issue. Some of these issues may be:
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal infection
- Kidney infection
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine fibroids
When a doctor reveals these conditions to be the underlying cause of pain, treatment must focus on treating the illness and not necessarily the symptoms.
Treating Lower Back Pain With Physical Therapy
You may be at a point where you’d like to treat the pain yourself, and that is more than possible. If these don’t work, however, or the pain gets gradually or suddenly worse, you must reach out to your health provider.
How Physical Therapy Helps With Back Pain
If your lower back pain persists for more than a few weeks, your doctor will most likely send you to a physical therapist. While there are some home remedies, the best solution for most instances of back pain is to work with the supervision of a physical therapist.
They will first try to pinpoint what kind of pain they’re dealing with and where it stems from. Once they know the cause, they will determine a category of treatment. These may be:
- Repeated motion
- Manipulation or mobilization
- A combination of the above
With time and consistent effort, we can ease most symptoms of back pain.
Home-care for Lower Back Pain
Try to stay as active as possible while protecting your injury. Rest is good, but resting for long periods is only likely to make the pain worse as you are not giving the muscles a chance to strengthen again.
There are some exercises you can do that may help, such as walking, swimming, and gentle yoga. Anti-inflammatory painkillers combined with hot or cold compression therapy can help ease the discomfort.
When to See a Doctor
Sometimes you just can’t treat an injury yourself, especially if it is linked to a deeper and more chronic ailment. This is where you will need to reach out to a specialist who can undertake a thorough examination.
They may prescribe physical therapy as an ongoing treatment, as well as perform surgeries like kyphoplasty, in the event of more severe cases.
Don’t let this frighten you. These cases are few and far between, and it’s likely you’re suffering from something manageable.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible:
- Numbness or tingling
- Swelling or deformity on your back
- Does not improve after rest
- Pain gets worse when sneezing or coughing
- Chest pain
- High temperature
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of bladder control
These can be a sign of something more concerning and must be checked urgently. However, know that there are people and medical professionals near you who want to get you back on your feet and moving again. They understand more than anyone how frustrating it can be to live with chronic back pain.
We’ve Got Your Back
While most cases of back injury stem from a pulled muscle or a tweaked nerve, sometimes the need for treatment is more pressing.
Reach out to a doctor sooner rather than later if you’re considered about your back, and they will get in touch with you about the right treatment for you, whether it’s rest and physical therapy, or surgery and medical treatment.
Contact us today if you’re struggling and let us help you book an appointment with one of our expert medical staff.