Back pain is very typical and also usually improves within a few weeks or months. Discomfort in the lower back (lumbago) is particularly common, although it can be felt anywhere along the spinal column, from the neck to the hips.
Most of the time, the discomfort is not triggered by anything significant and usually improves over time.
There are things you can do to help eliminate it. But sometimes the discomfort can last for an extended period or keep coming back.
How to Get Back Pain Relief
The following tips may help in reducing your pain in the back and also speed up your recovery:
- Remain as active as possible and try to continue your day-to-day tasks - this is 1 of one of the essential things you can do, as resting for long periods is most likely to make the discomfort even worse;
- Try exercises and stretches for pain in the back. Tasks as walking, swimming, yoga and also pilates might also be helpful;
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as Ibuprofen - don't forget to check if the medication is safe for you to take or ask a pharmacist if you're not sure;
- Use hot or cold compression packs for short-term pain relief - you can get these from a drug store or a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a piece of fabric or towel will work just as well.
Although it can be challenging, it helps if you stay optimistic and recognize that your pain should get better. People who manage to remain positive regardless of their pain tend to recover quicker.
Getting Help and Advice
Back pain generally gets better by itself within a few weeks or months, and you might not require seeing a physician.
But it's a good idea to get help if:
- the discomfort does not begin to improve within a couple of weeks;
- the pain stops you doing your day-to-day activities;
- the pain is very severe or gets worse with time;
- you're worried about the pain or struggling to cope.
If you see a doctor, they will ask about your symptoms, examine your back, and talk about possible treatments. They may refer you to an expert doctor or a physiotherapist for additional help.
Additionally, you might intend to consider speaking to a physiotherapist directly. Some NHS physiotherapists accept consultations without a physician's recommendation, or you could choose to pay for personal treatment.
Treatments for Back Pain from an Expert
A physiotherapist may suggest additional treatments if they do not think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These might consist of:
- group exercise classes where you're shown exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture;
- manual therapy treatments, such as manipulating the spine and massage, which are typically done by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath;
- psychological support, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can be a valuable part of treatment if you're struggling to cope with discomfort.
Some people select to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing a General Practitioner first. If you intend to do this, you'll usually need to pay for private treatment.
A surgical procedure is usually only taken into consideration in the small number of situations where back pain is brought on by a particular medical problem.
Causes of Back Pain
It's typically not possible to recognize the cause of back pain. Physicians call this non-specific back pain.
Often the pain may be from an injury such as a strain or sprain, however frequently it occurs for no evident reason. It's hardly ever caused by anything serious.
Occasionally pain in the back can be caused by a medical problem such as:
- a slipped (prolapsed) disc - where a disc of cartilage in the spinal column press a nearby nerve;
- sciatica - irritation of the nerve that runs from the hips to the feet.
These conditions often tend to trigger additional symptoms, such as numbness, weakness or a tingling sensation, and they're treated differently from non-specific back pain.
Most back pain is what's called "non-specific" (there's no obvious cause) or "mechanical" (the pain originates from the joints, bones, or soft tissues around the spinal column).
This kind of back pain:
- often tends to get better or worse depending on your position - for example, it may feel better when sitting or lying down;
- usually feels even worse when moving - however, it's not a good idea to avoid moving your back entirely, as this can make the pain even worse;
- can develop suddenly or progressively;
- is sometimes the result of poor posture or lifting something awkwardly, but commonly occurs for no obvious reason;
- might be triggered by a minor injury such as sprain (pulled ligament) or strain(drew muscular tissue);
- can be connected with feeling stressed or run down;
- generally starts to improve within a few weeks.
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Medical Conditions that Cause Pain in the Back
Conditions that can cause back pain include:
1. A slipped (prolapsed) disc - a disc of cartilage in the spinal column pressing on a nerve. It can cause back pain and numbness, tingling, and weakness in other parts of the body;
2. Sciatica - irritability of the nerve that runs from the lower back to the feet. It can trigger pain, numbness, tingling as well as weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet;
3. Ankylosing spondylitis - swelling of the joints in the spine. It causes pain and stiffness that typically worsen in the early morning and also improves with movements;
4. Spondylolisthesis - a bone in the spine that slipping out of position. It can trigger lower back pain and even stiffness, as well as numbness and a tingling sensation.
These conditions are treated differently to non-specific back pain. Rarely, back pain can be a sign of a significant issue, such as:
- A broken bone in the spinal column;
- An infection;
- Cauda equina syndrome (where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed);
- Some types of cancer, such as multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer).
- If you go to the doctor with back pain, he'll search for indications of these.
Preventing back pain
It's difficult to prevent back pain, but the following tips might help in reducing your risk:
- do regular back exercises, and stretches - physiotherapist may be able to recommend you exercise to try;
- remain active-- doing regular exercise can aid in keeping your back strong; grownups are advised to do at least 150 minutes of exercise a week;
- prevent sitting for long periods;
- take care when lifting:
- check your posture when sitting, using computers or tablets and watching tv;
- ensure the mattress on your bed supports you properly;
- lose some weight through a combination of a healthy and balanced diet and regular workout if you're overweight. Being overweight can raise your risk of developing back pain.
When to Get Immediate Medical Advice
You need to contact your doctor immediately if you have back pain and:
- numbness or tingling around your genitals or buttocks;
- trouble peeing;
- loss of bladder or bowel control - peeing or pooing yourself;
- chest pain;
- high temperature;
- unintended weight reduction;
- a swelling or a deformity in your back;
- it does not improve after resting or is worsens at night;
- it began after a major accident, such as a car mishap;
- the discomfort is so bad you're having problems with sleeping;
- pain worsens when sneezing, coughing or pooing;
- the ache is coming from the top of your back, between your shoulders, rather than your lower back.
These problems could be an indicator of something extra severe and require to be examined urgently.