If you’ve ever woken up with back pain, you’ll understand how debilitating it can be.
Back pain may interfere with your:
- exercise; and
- job performance.
Lower back pain is the single most common complaint made by patients to their doctors with an estimated 80 percent of the population suffering back pain at some point in their life.
There are various types of back pain too and in this article, we’ve identified eight of the most common causes of back pain and treatment options so that you no longer have to suffer through the pain.
1. Disc degeneration (Bulging Or Slipped Disc)
Disc degeneration may appear as a bulging or slipped disc on imaging where one of the soft, spongy discs cushioning the vertebrae will appear to protrude out of position.
According to the Mayo Clinic, in most cases, a physical exam and a medical history are all that are required to make a diagnosis.
In some instances, your physician may schedule an MRI to confirm the location of the herniated disk and to see which nerves are affected.
However, it is important to note that disc degeneration may not always be the source of pain and it could be a normal process of natural wear and tear. It is important to consult with one of our spine consultant to determine whether the disc bulge is the true cause of your symptoms.
Typically, conservative treatment plans, which avoid painful positions and follow a structured physiotherapy regimen, may relieve most people’s symptoms within a few weeks.
2. Pinched Nerve
Pinched nerves occur when a nerve is pressed up against the spine.
If your doctor suspects a pinched nerve, they may run a nerve conduction study to establish if you whether you have a damaged nerve. Alternatively, they could use electromyography to see if there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscle or an MRI to check for potential nerve root compression.
However, other different causes can mask as pinched nerve pain, just to name a few, for example, hip flexor muscles strain, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, or even abdominal muscle strain. Unfortunately many patients are often misdiagnosed without a nerve conduction test, as a result, poor results from receiving treatments that are not targeted to the true cause of symptoms.
The most common treatment for a pinched nerve is rest.
Or if that’s not treating the issue, a physiotherapist such as our team at the Brisbane Spine Clinic can recommend exercises that may help to relieve pressure on the nerve by strengthening and stretching the muscles in the affected area and unveil the true cause of your “pinched nerve” pain.
Arthritic conditions causing back pain is triggered by a breakdown of the cartilage between the vertebrae in the spine.
A physical exam, an MRI and X-Rays are used to diagnose the condition.
The primary goal of treatment is to increase a person’s ability to function normally.
Doctors often advise patients with arthritis in the back to lose weight and increase gentle exercise through swimming, a brisk walk and water aerobics. For a more specific diagnosis, please contact us or your health physician.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes brittle, weak bones, which may break or collapse creating compression fractures.
Your bone density is measured using a machine that employs low-level x-rays to identify the mineral content in your bones.
It’s important to speak with a qualified physiotherapist so they can help you find a safe exercise strategy and teach you movements that should help you feel better.
5. Referred Pain
Significant pain in another part of the body can trigger pain in your lower back.
Our brains struggle to identify the specific source of referred pain. An experienced spine specialist can usually distinguish referred pain from a radicular pain caused by a compressed spinal nerve during a physical exam.
Treatment usually involves rest, ice and heat packs and physical therapy using active exercise and stretching.
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back and down the back of each leg.
It can be pinched creating lower back pain together with a sharp pain in one or both legs, especially when sitting.
Typical treatment usually includes resting the back by not bending, flexing or lifting heavy weights, physiotherapy, including electrical stimulation of the back muscles, acupuncture, ice and heat packs.
However, it is far too common to see dysfunction in other body parts mask as sciatica. Please consult our spine consultant here at The Brisbane Spine Clinic if your sciatica symptoms are not going away despite everything you have tried.
Carrying extra weight during pregnancy can put a lot of strain on the back. Sources of the low back pain are split between the L2 and S1 lumbar vertebrae and the pelvic girdle.
Conservative treatments for low back pain during pregnancy include sleeping on side, wearing back braces while standing, sitting and walking, applying ice or heat packs for 20 to 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a day, using a pillow to maintain near-normal lordosis position of lower back, resting feet on a small stool to relax the back muscles combined with a physical therapy exercises designed to strengthen back and abdominal muscles during the first and second trimester, complemented by daily swims during the first, second and third trimesters.
This chronic pain condition creates fatigue discomfort and tenderness to the touch in the back and throughout the body. While its cause is not fully understood, research indicates fibromyalgia is the result of the body becoming extra sensitive to pain due to an overactive pain system.
In diagnosing fibromyalgia, doctors look for common signs amongst patients, including, widespread pain and tenderness lasting more than three months.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are usually treated with a combination of:
- Balancing activity with rest
- Staying active with help from a qualified practice such as the Brisbane Spine Clinic and
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
When To Seek Help
Not all back pain is serious.
Some back pain symptoms may disappear over time. However, you should see our spine consultant or your doctor if your back pain lasts longer than 72 hours, if your back pain wakes you at night or if you experience fever, sweats, chills, numbness, tingling, bowel or bladder problems, pain following an injury or unexplained weight loss.
Those symptoms may be a sign of a more serious problem.
Consult A Qualified Physiotherapist
Call us today on 07 3841 3070 to discuss how our approach may alleviate your back pain symptoms or to book an appointment.
*Please note, content within this article is for educational purposes only and treatment and advice mentioned may not be suited for everyone. Please consult a team member at the Brisbane Spine Clinic or your General Practitioner for specific advice.