This article explains the reasons for back pain and simple steps to manage it.
Low back pain is a very common presenting problem that occurs to most of us. We will surely experience it at some point in our lifetime.
Causes of Simple Back Pain
Management of Simple Back Pain
Bedrest has been shown to be counterproductive. Get up and move as soon as you can and do not keep resting as this will make things worse.
Analgesics (painkillers) in the form of Acetaminophen (Paracetamol), NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Meloxicam, Diclofenac etc., can be taken individually or in combination bearing in mind their side effects. Most of these are available over the counter. As a word of caution, avoid using NSAIDs if you have stomach issues.
When to Consult a Doctor?
When to Go to the Emergency Department/Emergency Room?
- If you cannot urinate or open your bowels.
- If painkillers did not work and you get a 7 to 10 scale pain (On a scale of 10, if your pain is more than 7).
- If you get a severe "shooting nerve pain" down the leg especially when you lift up your leg. This may be a sign of sciatica (compression of nerve down your leg) which does not go away with simple painkillers.
For further assistance, consult a spine health specialist or a physiotherapist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/physiotherapist
Strain and sprain to the muscles of the back due to improper lifting of heavy objects, abrupt back movements during exercise or sudden activity, and overstretching usually lead to torn muscles and ligaments. Muscle spasms, injury to the back, disk problems, poor sitting posture, using mattresses with poor spine support, degenerating disks, and ankylosing spondylitis (inflammatory arthritis) are common causes of back pain.
Disk-related back pain presents with a kind of electric pain and weakness or numbness of the legs. There will be consistent pain upon movements and rest. Pain radiates to the buttocks, groin, and legs, causing shooting pain. Pain aggravates while bending forward and returning.
Back pain due to muscle problems is localized (confined to the central back) and does not radiate to other areas. Pain is present with movements and while at rest. It aggravates only while returning from a forward bend and resolves in a few days with rest.
Back pain due to muscle sprain or strain is not so serious as it resolves with rest and medications. But persistent back pain due to problems with the spine (spinal stenosis) and nerve compression (sciatica), pain associated with bowel and bladder incontinence, or sudden leg weakness must not be ignored as they may be because of any underlying organ damage or nerve conditions including cauda equina syndrome (spinal cord nerve damage) necessitating medical management.
Never-ending backaches that do not subside, shooting or electric shock-like pain, back pain accompanied by leg numbness and tingling, and bowel and bladder incontinence in the presence of chronic back pain reveals a hidden root cause like nerve compression, damage, organ damage, spine diseases, etc. They demand concern and must not be mistaken to be normal back pain.
Pain in the upper back while breathing is most commonly due to muscle strain due to overly exerting activities like lifting weights, exercise, and trauma and panic attacks. Other serious causes are pleurisy (infection of the lung’s outer layer), fractured backbone, respiratory infections like pneumonia, heart attack, pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the blood vessels supplying the lungs), lung cancer, and bone conditions like scoliosis.
The best sleeping position for lower back pain is to lie on your side with a minimal bend to the knees and adding a pillow between the legs. Lying on your side with knees bent and tucked to reach the chest (fetal position) is also a good position.
Walking helps in the effective healing of lower back pain. While walking, the muscles of the back strengthen and stretch. This improves the flexibility of the back muscles and ligaments.
Lower back pain of sharp and shooting nature lasting for more than two weeks interrupting your daily activities and sleep, back pain radiating to the legs with numbness of the legs and unintentional weight loss, and accompanied by problems with urination and excretion need immediate medical attention.
Herbal infusions like ginger tea and green tea, turmeric milk, and cherry juice are found to have anti-inflammatory properties and aid in prompt pain relief, along with medications and physiotherapy.
Muscle relaxants are prescribed to relieve back pain of short-term origin. These medications are advised to be taken for a short period in back pain due to muscle spasms. They help improve pain together with physiotherapy.
Minimal bed rest, non-exerting physical activity like walking, being active regularly, painkillers, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), sleeping on your side with pillows between your legs and knees bent, maintaining a good posture (straight) while sitting and walking, and applying cool and hot compresses to the back aid in prompt back pain recovery.
Acetaminophen, along with opioids like Codeine, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin, are the preferred painkillers to treat back pain.
Last reviewed at:
02 Nov 2018 - 1 min read
Article Overview: Low back pain is commonly found in young and school going individuals these days unlike it was believed as a disease of old age. So this is a small article giving a basic understanding of low back pain in the young hard working generation. Read Article
Low back pain is the second most common ailment with common cold being the first. Previously, low back pain was considered age-related, that is, mostly seen in older individuals. So, it was considered a pain due to weak muscles and weak bones. But nowadays, back pain is quite common in the young pop... Read Article
Query: Hi doctor, While working out today, I was doing a shoulder press. I was doing it too fast, and at one point, I got a sharp pain in my back, near where my ribs meet my spine. Since then, I am also having very sharp pain when inhaling and exhaling, as well as when rotating my torso or neck. Should I ... Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor,I have chronic ankle sprains in both the ankles. I have this for maybe a year now. I went to PT and have been doing exercises. But, about a week ago, my ankle began to pop. It is happening once in a while. It really hurts and I have to pause for a couple minutes for the pain to settle. Is ... Read Full »
Most Popular Articles
Do you have a question on Osteoporosis or Back Pain?Ask a Doctor Online