Few things in life unite people the way pain does. It can be dull and present as an ache, or sharp and cause you to grit your teeth as you move around at a hobble. Back pain is something that is felt by a lot of people and for a lot of different reasons, so it is critical that you read up and educate yourself on the subject, for your own quality of life. In today’s article, we are going to cover what lower back pain means, why it’s happening to you and ways to get some relief from it.
What Does Lower Back Pain Mean?
At its most basic level, lower back pain means that you are having an inflammatory response to some sort of injury within the lower portion of your back. Sometimes it happens if you’ve strained a muscle after a workout, or maybe you’ve picked something up that’s too heavy and there’s a twinge that turns into a constant pain after a few minutes.
What back pain means is that a muscle, ligament, nerve or disc has been injured and the area has been inflamed. The back needs to heal and repair the damage so that it can get back to normal. Just like a broken arm or a cut, it’s going to hurt until it heals.
Difference Between Acute Back Pain and Chronic Back Pain
There are two main types of back pain, which are acute back pain and chronic back pain. The most common is acute back pain. This is the one that lasts for less than three months and is easily attributed to doing a workout that causes pain, or to lifting something that was too heavy and leaves an ache. Or, you’ve fallen down in an undesirable position. The point is, the cause of the pain is clear and it generally lasts no longer than three months (assuming you don’t re-injure yourself).
Chronic back pain is when the pain tends to last longer than three months and it doesn’t get better and/or the pain stays the same or gets worse. The pain can either be a dull ache, or sharp bursting pain. The injury can be from a clear cause like an intense workout or fall, and still be chronic back pain. The main thing here is the time elapsed in living with it.
Common Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
Here are some common symptoms to watch for:
- You feel a dull ache that doesn’t seem to subside;
- You feel a burning bright pain;
- You have difficulty standing or sitting up straight.
The severity of these symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on how bad the injury is and how your body is responding to it. If you’ve recently started a new workout or have been moving boxes around, or even taken a fall and experienced these symptoms at all, you should treat it as soon as possible for the problem gets worse.
How To Diagnose It
The first thing you should do is consult a doctor. When going to a doctor or other specialist to see what’s going on with your back, you will undergo a series of questions or tests to determine what is going on and what could have happened to cause your lower back pain. Here is some of the information/tests you will/should go over with your doctor:
- Activity level: The doctor will most likely talk about your activity level and if there were any sudden changes in it. If you are someone who tends to sit a lot, then any kind of physical activity or change in movement patterns is going to cause back pain if you just jump into it right away. Your back will need to adjust slowly to it.
- Sleeping position: It’s common knowledge that some sleeping positions are better than others when it comes to back health and its pain. Your doctor will likely ask you how you sleep and if it hurts to sleep in any certain position.
- Palpation: In actual treatment, the doctor will possibly palpate your back to see where the pain is and how the muscle reacts to it. This determines what kind of injury it is which will help in treating it.
- Range of movement test: There will also potentially be a test done to determine how you can move and where it’s hard to do so. This will help the professional understand where, in fact, the injury is and even how severe it is.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain
If you’re looking to relieve back pain (regardless of whether you’ve gone to a doctor for treatment or not), here are some tips to help reduce its severity so that you can get back to your everyday activities faster and with as little inconvenience as possible:
- Change your workout: There is such a thing as going too far when it comes to your workout and you need to make sure that you are careful in which workouts that you’re doing, the severity of them, and how often you’re doing them. As you get used to the workout, your back will get stronger and you can step it up a notch once you gain more muscle. Or, you can consider changing your workout all together, to one that is more back-friendly.
- Rest your back more often: If you are experiencing pain form work or other activities that involve lifting and strain on your back, try to rest more often. Lie on the floor or on a bed (or other firm surface) on your back and allow the muscles to relax and everything to return to its native position. If you have a desk job, take more breaks and stretch your back out to make sure that you’re not over-doing it.
- Heat/Cold Therapy: You’ll be able to do a lot with heat and cold therapy for your back. Using hot packs for 20 minutes intervals or cold therapy (wrapped in a towel to protect your skin) for the same amount of time can help with pain (heat) and to reduce inflammation (cold). This is the preferred treatment for that reason.
Back pain is never fun and it’s always serious, but education is key. We hope that this information helps you understand what lower back pain means and how to get some relief. Have you ever been successful in handling your pain? If so, we’d love to hear about how you were able to get some relief. Please leave a comment below. Until next time!