Imaging is indicated when there are red flags, ongoing neurological symptoms that do not resolve, or ongoing or worsening pain. In particular, early use of imaging (either MRI or CT) is recommended for suspected cancer, infection, or cauda equina syndrome. MRI is slightly better than CT for identifying disc disease; the two technologies are equally useful for diagnosing spinal stenosis. Only a few physical diagnostic tests are helpful. The straight leg raise test is almost always positive in those with disc herniation. Lumbar provocative discography may be useful to identify a specific disc causing pain in those with chronic high levels of low back pain. Similarly, therapeutic procedures such as nerve blocks can be used to determine a specific source of pain. Some evidence supports the use of facet joint injections, transforminal epidural injections and sacroilliac injections as diagnostic tests. Most other physical tests, such as evaluating for scoliosis, muscle weakness or wasting, and impaired reflexes, are of little use.
Subacute low back pain. Lasting between 6 weeks and 3 months, this type of pain is usually mechanical in nature (such as a muscle strain or joint pain) but is prolonged. At this point, a medical workup may be considered, and is advisable if the pain is severe and limits one’s ability to participate in activities of daily living, sleeping, and working.
The 14” x 13” cushion is made of molded, resilient foam that conforms to your back’s unique shape. The foam provides your back with the support it needs while helping to keep your spine properly aligned. The cushion also comes with a wooden insert that provides the back with added support.
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2016 — More editing, more! Added some better information about pain being a poor indicator, and the role of myofascial trigger points. This article has become extremely busy in the last couple months — about 4,000 readers per day, as described here — so I am really polishing it and making sure that it’s the best possible answer to people’s fears about back pain.
We also carry pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help you manage pain. Topical analgesics, heating pads and other heat therapy products might also provide relief. In addition, you can try other back braces as well as abdominal supports to aid sore muscles.
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There is an anxiety-producing myth that low back pain is serious and chronic if you can’t shake it after the first several weeks, when in fact many people recover just fine after that “deadline.” An entire section below is to the strong scientific evidence about this. BACK TO TEXT
Bony encroachment: Any condition that results in movement or growth of the vertebrae of the lumbar spine can limit the space (encroachment) for the adjacent spinal cord and nerves. Causes of bony encroachment of the spinal nerves include foraminal narrowing (narrowing of the portal through which the spinal nerve passes from the spinal column, out of the spinal canal to the body, commonly as a result of arthritis), spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebra relative to another), and spinal stenosis (compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or other soft tissues in the spinal canal). Spinal-nerve compression in these conditions can lead to sciatica pain that radiates down the lower extremities. Spinal stenosis can cause lower-extremity pains that worsen with walking and are relieved by resting (mimicking the pains of poor circulation). Treatment of these afflictions varies, depending on their severity, and ranges from rest and exercises to epidural cortisone injections and surgical decompression by removing the bone that is compressing the nervous tissue.
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 simple injury, such as a back sprain/strain from lifting and twisting simultaneously, can cause immediate and severe pain that is typically self-limiting.
Back pain may be classified by various methods to aid its diagnosis and management. The duration of back pain is considered in three categories, following the expected pattern of healing of connective tissue. Acute pain lasts up to 12 weeks, subacute pain refers to the second half of the acute period (6 to 12 weeks), and chronic pain is pain which persists beyond 12 weeks.