Wednesday, 13 April 2016

When to get your lower back pain checked out?

Do you suffer from lower back pain?

Around 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. It is the most common cause of job-related pain and is the main reason for so many sick days!

lower back pain

So what is low back pain?

It can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sharp, stabbing pain that leaves the person feeling debilitated and low in mood. It can start quickly, e.g. lifting something heavy and twisting awkwardly or a sudden fall. It can be insidious and slowly get worse. People can have low back pain ranging from 4-12 weeks. Others can have it for longer, as it depends on what structures have been damaged, if any. I say this because, pain is not always a damage report, and it can be a warning sign that something has been stressed or strained.

Risks and factors

Anyone can get back pain but there are a few things that can increase the risk of getting it. Back pain is more common in older people, so we are more likely to get pain due to wear and tear of the discs, bone and other structures. This is mainly due to the compression forces that have been placed on our spine throughout life, it is simply just the aging process. Common conditions as we age are osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. Stenosis is when the spinal column becomes narrow and puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves which can cause pain and weakness when walking and in time can lead to strength loss in lower limb and sensation loss. Another cause of lower back pain is a slipped disc. These can happen with any age, but are more common between 30-50 years of age. The common causes of back pain in the younger adults are muscle strains, ligament sprains, slipped disc and believe it or not, degenerative disc disease! Some unlucky younger people can inherit their Father or their Mother’s painful lower backs which means their discs could already be prone to problems such as bulging or slipping.

Other factors that affect pain in the lower back are inactivity/ poor physical fitness, being overweight, and YOUR JOB! If you lift heavy things, twisting, bending over incorrectly or sit at a desk all day without moving, you WILL get low back pain! Sometimes the most pain comes from a muscle spasm and it can leave you literally on the floor! Did you know some people don’t even know they have slipped a disc and have no pain? This is because everybody has different pain thresholds and everybody is different! It is still important to get it checked out by a health professional.

So when is low back pain serious then?

Sports Therapists can help you with most painful lower backs so instead of going to see a doctor, come and see us first! We can fully assess the situation and take a full history and carry out some practical tests to see whether it is something serious for the doctor. After all, pain intensity is different in everyone however, muscle spasm can be worse than disc pain. Pain is trying to tell us that something is going wrong with our bodies, so LISTEN to YOUR body!

Some important warning signs if you experience lower back pain:
  1. Weight loss (and not going to the gym)
  2. Loss of bladder and bowel movements – hard to go.
  3. Widespread muscle pain and fatigue
  4. Pain that grows steadily, unaffected with position and activity, worse with weight bearing at night, unexplained fever or chills.
  5. Numb groin and weak legs like they will give way.
  6. Deep, constant pain that comes with fever, illness and a rigid spine.
  7. Risk is higher in under 20’s and over 55 years old.
  8. Light tapping of the spine is painful.

I would say some of these are more important to get checked out than others, but if you are experiencing low back pain with any of these. It is worth a trip to the doctors, if you are free of these signs then it is most likely something we can fix! 

So CALL NOW and get your lower back pain sorted today!

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