Here are 9 of the most common questions people ask about low back pain
Who gets low back pain?
The easy answer to this is everyone gets liw back pain! That’s because 80% of people will experience at least one episode of low back pain in their lives. Most of these epidodes start out when people are between the ages of 30 and 50. This is often why people aged 40+ years old are often dealing with low back pain symptoms, especially if the problem was never resolved.
What causes low back pain?
The most common cause of low back pain is generally a mechanical issue, such as a muscle strain or a joint irritation, these are also known as musculoskeletal pai). Unfortunately, most of the time there is no underlying cause or structural damage (identified on X-Ray or MRI).
What are symptoms of low back pain?
Low back symptoms can differ from individual to individual. It could be more of a localized problem, such as the feeling of a throb or an ache in the back itself or a muscle soreness or feeling of pressure. Low back symptoms can even radiate and feel like a weakness in the legs and feet, or some tingling or burning anywhere down the leg or foot.
What are treatment options for low back pain?
There are many forms of treatment available for this issue, from physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care and much more. Sometimes making simple lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, losing weight to take pressure off the spine, and even smoking cessation can help improve symptoms as well.
Should I rest fully when I have back pain?
It is a common misconception that we must rely on bed rest to get rid of back pain. This is actually something that can slow down the recovery, as being in bed all day can increase stiffness and pain. It is actually better to move within your comfortable tolerance – so keep moving as much as you are comfortable with, avoiding movements that really trigger pain or symptoms, such as lifting, bending or twisting.
Are there home remedies for low back pain?
Were are 3 strategies that are simple enough to implement at home:
Ice or heat?
People often wonder whether they should use ice or heat to help their low back pain. If someone is experiencing throbbing pain that lingers for a certain amount of time, we should use ice to calm that down. It will freeze the area and minimize the pain signals. Heat on the other hand will help increase circulation to an area, which is a great way to help relieve sore and tight muscles. For more information on ice vs heat, please visit this article Home Pain Management 101: Ice or Heat?
As mentioned previously, we want to avoid complete bed rest. Instead we should continue moving within our comfort level, avoiding the movements that trigger the pain.
Good posture can help minimize pressure on the low back and alleviate some of the symptoms. Avoid slouching when standing or sitting – we can achieve this by tucking in the chin and bringing the shoulders back. One suggestion is to avoid sitting for greater than 30-60 minutes at a time, especially when working in front of a screen.
Do I need an X-Ray or MRI?
About 98% of low back pain sufferers have “musculoskeletal pain”, meaning nothing that requires medical or surgical intervention. Generally, a practitioner such as a physiotherapist, is well trained to assess for signs or symptoms of something more serious or are able to rule them out. For more information on imaging, please refer to this resource – Are Pictures Really Worth A Thousand Words?
I have back pain, do I need surgery?
It is actually very uncommon to require surgery for simple low back pain. In the rare instance that there’s significant pressure on the spinal cord or nerves due to a disc herniation, that may necessitate surgical intervention, but often times a conservative approach, such as physiotherapy, massage therapy or any manual movement therapy can improve symptoms and resolve the issue. Surgery is usually seen as a last resort option.
What if my back pain isn’t getting better?
If low back pain is getting worse instead of improving, or if new symptoms start to appear, it would be a good opportunity to speak to a healthcare practitioner. If symptoms of bowel and bladder control appear, or sudden and intense numbness or weakness in legs, back or genitals begin, this should be considered an emergency.
If you are worried about the low back pain that you are experiencing and would like to speak to a Physiotherapist, click on the link below and fill out the form to have one of our clinicians call you. If you would like to find out more about low back pain, please visit the Back Pain and Stiffness page.