Lower back pain is a fairly common complaint, especially among older adults. It can be caused by a number of factors such as muscle strain, joint inflammation, disc degeneration, or nerve damage. The first step to relief is consulting a back pain specialist to uncover the cause of your discomfort. These are some signs your pain is caused by muscle strain and what you can do about it.
If you strain a muscle in your lower back because of sudden movement or lifting something too heavy, the pain will stay confined to the area of the injured muscle. This is different from pain caused by a compressed nerve, which causes pain to radiate elsewhere. For instance, sciatica is lower back pain caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. It causes pain to travel down your leg as it follows the path of the nerve. Identifying the location of your pain will help the specialist determine the type of condition you have.
Pain from a muscle injury is often sudden and severe. If you twist your back or strain it from a sudden movement, the pain typically starts right away and may continue to build. The pain can be bad enough to make you seek treatment at the emergency room. This type of pain may be helped by the application of ice packs to reduce swelling alternated with a heating pad to increase blood flow to speed healing. Muscle relaxants may also relieve pain by relaxing spasms.
Lower back pain caused by a chronic condition such as disc damage, arthritic joints, or nerve compression can be severe too. However, it often starts out as mild pain you learn to live with until it gets bad enough over a period of time to cause you to seek help.
Although a muscle strain in your back may not sound all that serious, it can cause you pain for several weeks until your muscle heals. If the muscle strain is caused by poor posture, frequent heavy lifting on the job, or poor body mechanics, it may take even longer than that for it to heal. If your back pain lasts a few months, you should consider seeing a specialist even if your pain is not very bad. That way you can uncover the cause. The specialist may run imaging scans to rule out tumors, bone spurs, nerve compression, damaged discs, and spinal infections. If you have a medical condition, you might need surgery or some other treatment to get relief from pain.
If your back pain is caused by chronic stress on your muscles, seeing a back pain specialist at Hand & Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists may help. You'll be taught exercises that strengthen your back and core muscles. This will increase back support and improve your posture. They can also teach you how to lift properly and perform other work related activities in a way that reduces the strain on your back.