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LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOMS

Lower back pain is the most common pain condition in adults over their lifetime.

LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOMS

An Introduction

Studies report that over 80% of adults will experience low back pain or lumbar pain within their lifetime. It is also the most common cause of job-related disability and missed days at work for millions of Americans. There are several key risk factors in the development of lumbar pain and they are discussed below.

Learn more about where lower back pain begins by watching the video link.

Lower Back Pain Symptoms OKC

RISK FACTORS

AGE - WEIGHT GAIN - FITNESS LEVEL

Most patients experience their first attack with back pain between the ages of 30 and 50. The occurrence of back pain increases with age. Some reasons lumbar pain increases with age include bone loss, decreased muscle strength, and loss of tissue flexibility.

Obesity increases the stress placed on the spine which increases the overall risk of lower back pain. Your level of fitness can also impact the development of low back pain. Regular exercise reduces your chances of developing chronic low back pain.

Lower Back Pain Fitness

OTHER BACK PAIN RISK FACTORS

GENETICS & JOB RELATED RISKS

Some causes of pain run in families. Most of these types of inherited arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, are disorders of the autoimmune system. Related conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are also capable of playing a role in lumbar back pain.

Most people realize that heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling are more likely to cause lower back pain. In particular, jobs involving lifting with twisting or vibrating of the spine commonly result in lumbar back pain from osteoarthritis. In addition, those working in office settings and performing long hours sitting at a desk will often suffer back pain.

LUMBAR PAIN AT WORK

RED FLAGS FOR LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOMS

Auto Accident Injury - Accidents - Falls

Suffering a recent major accident such as an auto accident will often lead to spine pain. High speed accidents, even in healthy people, can result in serious damage to joints, tendons, and nerves.  If you have suffered an accident and have lumbar back pain, you should schedule an evaluation as soon as possible. When the proper diagnosis and treatments are provided, auto accident victims suffering lumbar pain will recover.

If you are over 60 years of age and have suffered a low speed accident or a minor fall – be alert. If you develop spine pain, you should schedule an evaluation. As we age, we are at an increased risk for bone fractures and injuries to the spine. Even a seemingly minor fall can lead to significant injury in certain patients.

 

Auto Accident

OTHER LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOM RED FLAGS

Cancer History

Developing lumbar pain following a history or cancer is a red flag. It is important to always have a higher level of concern with a past diagnosis of cancer. There is the potential for cancer to spread to the spine. You should seek an evaluation for lower back pain when you have had cancer in the past.

Infection History

A recent infection may also pose a risk for spread to the spine. Spread of infection can result in a rapid onset of pain that worsens in hours to days. Usually patients with a spinal bacterial infection will have other symptoms including significant fever, chills, and sweats. If you are suffering this combination of symptoms you should have an emergency evaluation performed.

 

Pain at Rest

Usually, common causes of low back pain decrease when you lay down. Pain that is worse with resting or laying down can be a sign of a more serious condition. You should schedule an evaluation with a spine specialist if you are experiencing this type of lower back pain.

 

Severe Nerve Symptoms

Severe weakness, loss of bladder control, or loss of bowel control with low back pain should alert you to seek an urgent evaluation. In some instances, the amount of time you allow the symptoms to go undiagnosed could result in permanent nerve damage.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU SUFFERED LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOMS?

Less than 3 months: Acute pain

In most cases, lumbar pain develops as a short-term problem. This simply means that the back pain is likely to last less than three months. Most people have experienced this situation at some point in their life, whether from lifting a heavy object or participating in an activity that caused low back pain. The good news is that the majority of people that suffer back pain will have significant improvement over a period of weeks regardless of the cause. However, the difficult part is to know when a particular episode of spine pain could be a more serious condition. If you are unsure of how serious your pain may be, you should schedule an evaluation with a low back pain specialist. This will allow you to have the benefit of receiving a more specific pain diagnosis and receive the best treatment.

More than 3 months: Chronic pain

Lumbar pain beyond three months is common and this type of pain is referred to as chronic pain. Chronic lumbar pain can prove much more difficult to diagnose and treat without a pain specialist. It is a good idea to have a specialty evaluation for any condition lasting beyond three months. This could indicate a more serious diagnosis.

Previous history of back pain

It is not uncommon for patients with previous back injuries to suffer a return of their low spine pain. Pain may have previously improved with or without specific treatment in the past. For returning pain, you should have a pain specialist evaluation and low back diagnosis. In addition, back pain that returns but feels different, spreads, or is more severe could be a sign of a new pain condition. Don’t assume you know the cause; this delays proper diagnosis and treatment of your low back pain.

Other symptoms with your pain

Many times, patients experience other symptoms with their pain including muscle spasms, leg pain, foot pain, numbness, tingling, sciatic nerve pain, leg weakness, foot weakness, or falls. These symptoms in addition to your lumbar pain will help your pain specialist identify the likely cause of your condition. It is important for you to share all of your symptoms with your low back doctor even if you feel they are unrelated to your painful low back condition.

EVALUATION OF LOW BACK PAIN

What to expect during an evaluation

History

The most important place to start when evaluating low back pain is the history of how the pain originally started. It is necessary to completely fill out all forms and questions when visiting your spine pain specialist. A medical history provides key information that will better enable your doctor to find the cause of your pain. It will also assist in providing you the best treatment options.

Specific Lower Back Pain Symptoms

It is very important to share all of your symptoms – whether or not you feel they are related to your pain. Sometimes symptoms can indicate more serious conditions. Most importantly, this helps your pain specialist properly diagnose you.

Physical Exam

A back pain physical focuses on the lower legs, spine, tender areas, and strength of muscles. Your pain specialist will focus on the area most likely causing your worst pain. It is best to wear loose fitting and comfortable clothing that allows the pain specialist to easily examine you. Your cooperation aids in assessing the joints of the legs and spine.

X-rays

Radiographs or x-ray pictures are a basic technique for evaluation of low back pain. These images are useful to detect common conditions such as spinal arthritis, scoliosis, and degenerative disc disease. It is important to remember that nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments cannot be viewed on an x-ray. For this reason, back pain conditions cannot be adequately diagnosed when using this test alone.

Lower Back Pain Doctor Evaluation

FURTHER EVALUATION OF LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOMS

Advanced imaging and related tests

CAT Scan or CT

A CT scan of the low back is a special X-ray image that takes 360 degree pictures of the spine. A CT of the lumber spine offers much more detail that the standard X-ray picture discussed above. However, CT scans also suffer some of the same limitations as X-rays.

MRI

An MRI provides detailed images of nerves, muscles, and tendons by using magnetic fields and radio waves. Unlike the limitations seen with X-rays, MRI images are able to identify specific “pinched nerves”. A major additional advantage is that MRI results in no radiation exposure to patients. A major disadvantage is that MRI may not be able to be used in those with pacemakers, defibrillators, or other metal implants.

Myelogram

A special contrast dye is injected into the spine and CT scans are performed following the injection. A detailed image of the spinal column is created for review by lower back pain doctors. This imaging technique requires that a specially trained physician be available to directly inject the contrast dye into the spine. Most routine imaging facilities may not have access to this specific type of spine testing.

Discogram

A discogram can determine which specific disc is the cause of a patient’s lumbar pain. This technique is used when surgery is being considered. The overwhelming majority patients with back pain will not require or benefit from this particular study. It is used for specific types of back pain conditions.

EMG and/or NCV

Electromyography (EMG) measures a muscles response to a small electrical stimulation. This test helps identify which muscles and nerves are being impacted by a problem within the spine It is performed by a physician specialist to find which nerves of the lumbar spine are “pinched”.

LUMBAR MRI

CONCLUSION

WHAT TO DO NEXT WITH LOWER BACK PAIN SYMPTOMS?

In summary, lower back pain symptoms can result from a wide range of problems within the spine. A proper low back specialist evaluation is critical to finding and treating the cause of your pain. At Elite Pain & Health, our Oklahoma Pain Management Specialists treat thousands Oklahomans with lower back problems. We are committed to providing Oklahoma the most comprehensive and advanced care options for spine pain. Above all, we look forward to getting you back to the active lifestyle you deserve. Call and schedule your evaluation and treatment today.

GET LUMBAR PAIN RELIEF!