In the vast majority of patients with low back pain, symptoms can be attributed to nonspecific mechanical factors. However, in a much smaller percentage of patients, the cause of back pain may be something more serious, such as cancer, cauda equina syndrome, spinal infection, spinal compression fractures, spinal stress fractures, ankylosing spondylitis, or aneurysm.
If the doctor or patient suspects some injury to the back, tests may be ordered. Also, if the doctor suspects the back pain might be due to an underlying cause, or if the pain persists for too long, further tests may be recommended.
My original inspiration for this tutorial was Dr. John Sarno’s 1984 book Mind over back pain. (His more recent Healing back pain makes too many empty promises. See my review.) However, as much as I respect Dr. Sarno’s early work, there are at least three reasons why this tutorial is better than his books: (1) I make a much more airtight case against the conventional medical myths of back pain than Dr. Sarno does; (2) I also build a much better case for the real causes of back pain, heavily referencing more credible sources than Dr. Sarno does; (3) and I offer many more practical suggestions than Dr. Sarno does, instead of focusing exclusively on the psychological factors. Although I have less experience and education than Dr. Sarno, I do have a lot more hands-on experience (and the useful perspective of a journalist). BACK TO TEXT
Obesity – According to a study posted in the Journal of American Epidemiology, overweight and obese people had a higher prevalence of low back pain than non-overweight individuals.1 Psychological/emotional stress Osteoporosis or bone loss (as measured by the Z-score and not the young adult-based T-score)
Jump up ^ Woodman, JP; Moore, NR (January 2012). Evidence for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons in medical and health-related conditions: a systematic review. International journal of clinical practice. 66 (1): 98–112. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2011.02817.x. PMID 22171910.
It is important that the back be flush, because this is what provides the support for the lower back. Overall, the lumbar back support should keep the spine in a very natural position. It should not overly accentuate the inward curve, nor should it feel unsupported.
Numerous powerlifters over the years have come back following ‘career-ending injuries’ to set all-time personal records. Donnie Thompson is the only man to total 3,000 lbs (1,265 lb squat, 950 lb bench, 785 lb deadlift). Many people don’t know this, but several years back Donnie suffered a horrendous back injury and herniated three discs. He could barely walk, but he got out of bed and rehabbed himself every day. Within three months he was back to heavy squatting and setting personal records. Got that? Setting personal records three months following an injury that herniated 3 discs!
The Mayo Clinic recommends you see your doctor if back pain does not improve within two weeks of developing. There are times when back pain can be a symptom of a serious medical problem. Symptoms that can indicate a more serious medical problem are:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are the mainstay of medical treatment for the relief of back pain. Ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen, and many others are available. No particular NSAID has been shown to be more effective for the control of pain than another. However, your doctor may switch you from one NSAID to another to find one that works best for you.
spinal infection infection in or near spinal structures Hard to detect, often for a long time. Usually there’s a well-defined tender spot and then, eventually, deep constant pain, a rigid spine, sometimes fever and illness but not always.
Several risk factors have been identified for the development of LBP in individuals who are required to sit throughout the majority of their work day. These include prolonged muscle contractions [3,4], vibration , and sustained body postures. Postures outside of neutral are particularly troublesome [3,6-9] as they lead to prolonged low level muscle contractions  and changes in intervertebral disc pressures [8,10]. During sitting, the lumbar spine flattens and there is posterior migration of the nucleus . The pressure on the disc increases [8,10] and there is increased passive strain on the posterior spinal elements [12,13]. The seated lumbar pressures may be minimized by maintaining the natural lordotic curvature [8,14].
Back pain is a big topic because between the upper back and tailbone, there are 17 vertebral bodies, many joints, the sacrum and tailbone. Plus fibrous and muscular supporting structures, intervertebral discs, spinal cord and nerve roots, and blood vessels. A injury, such as a back sprain/strain from lifting and twisting simultaneously, can cause immediate and severe pain that is typically self-limiting.
With a shag like texture, this pillow brings fun to any space. Brimming with bohemian flair, this cozy faux lamb fur pillow lends free-spirit style to your master suite or den. Add a few to ikat-print side chairs and colorful rugs, then tie everything together with tufted furnishings, bold pillows, and eye-catching poufs. Dress your room in contemporary style with Lamb fur design pillow. Material: Front side of pillow 100% Wool and back side of pillow poly suede. Spot clean, avoid direct…
Meanwhile, many non-dangerous problems can cause amazingly severe back pain. A muscle cramp is a good analogy — just think about how painful a Charley horse is! Regardless of what’s actually going on in there, muscle pain is probably the main thing that back pain patients are feeling. The phenomenon of trigger points — tiny muscle cramps, basically11 — could be the entire problem, or a complication that’s more painful and persistent than the original problem. It’s hard to overstate how painful trigger points can be, but they are not dangerous to anything but your comfort.
Portable lumbar back support. A curved cushion or lumbar roll, fitted to the seat back of an office chair, can be manually placed to fit the proper areas of the lumbar region. These cushions can be used in conjunction with most types of chairs to best fit the individual’s need. Some products may be inflatable to increase or decrease the amount of support. Again, many portable lumbar supports are designed to have a particular end facing up and the other down. This type of support may be transferred to the office chair, to use in chairs at home, in the car, etc.
Acute pain. This type of pain typically comes on suddenly and lasts for a few days or weeks, and is considered a normal response of the body to injury or tissue damage. The pain gradually subsides as the body heals.
This soft, micro mink backrest I perfect for all ages. It has an added pocket feature for phone or remote. Perfect for reading in bed, lounging on the floor or playing video games. High backed wall gi…
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Mechanical pain. By far the most common cause of lower back pain, mechanical pain (axial pain) is pain primarily from the muscles, ligaments, joints (facet joints, sacroiliac joints), or bones in and around the spine. This type of pain tends to be localized to the lower back, buttocks, and sometimes the top of the legs. It is usually influenced by loading the spine and may feel different based on motion (forward/backward/twisting), activity, standing, sitting, or resting.
Cigarettes aren’t just hell on your heart and lungs. Smokers have a higher incidence of recurring back problems, Dr. Katz says. The cause and effects of this are many. Nicotine restricts blood flow to vertebrae and disks, so they may age and break down more quickly. It may also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use calcium, leading to osteoporosis-related bone and back problems. You know what you have to do: Quit. Go to smokefree.gov to customize your own smoking cessation plan.
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Physical examination evaluates your vital signs (eg, heart rate). It is not unusual for your blood pressure to be elevated as a result of pain. The doctor examines your spine, feeling for abnormalities and areas of tenderness.
Herbal medicines, as a whole, are poorly supported by evidence. The herbal treatments Devil’s claw and white willow may reduce the number of individuals reporting high levels of pain; however, for those taking pain relievers, this difference is not significant. Capsicum, in the form of either a gel or a plaster cast, has been found to reduce pain and increase function.
2016 — Science update: Some fresh citations that strongly reinforce the main point of the section, and a few entertaining new examples of weird placebo effects. [Section: The back surgery placebo problem, and how it limits our knowledge of the effectiveness of back surgeries.]
Jump up ^ Shiri R, Karppinen J, Leino-Arjas P, Solovieva S, Viikari-Juntura E (January 2010). The association between smoking and low back pain: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Medicine. 123 (1): 87.e7–35. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.05.028. PMID 20102998.