Lower back. The latissimus dorsi, or lats, work with the opposing gluteus muscles to stabilize the spine and help coordinate the two halves of. Make a Referral · Away Date Calendar · Department eNews · Department Intranet Back pain can occur at any age in both men and women. Recent studies indicate that direct medical costs for lower back pain A ruptured disc may cause back pain and muscle spasms, but a more common symptom is sciatic pain. pregnancy, so that the back muscles are not taxed in counter-balancing In both women and men, the curvature of the spine in the lower back.
In some people, the cause may be something relatively minor, such as a mild strain. In other people, a serious underlying condition may be responsible, such as a herniated or ruptured spinal disc. Some of the most common causes of lower back spasm include the following: Poor posture Poor posture, especially when sitting at a desk or in a car, can strain the back muscles.
This can cause painful spasms. Some people may adapt their posture to deal with the spasms, potentially making the pain worse. It is common for people to pass much of the day sitting down or hunched over a computer screen. Over time, this can weaken the muscles in the back and other areas of the body. The lower back may attempt to compensate for this weakness, which can cause painful muscle spasms. Sitting for long periods can also cause muscle spasms because of muscle weakness and inflammation.
Muscle overuse and post-exercise pain The overuse of any muscle can trigger muscle spasms for a few days. Some people also experience post-exercise pain known as delayed onset muscle soreness DOMS.
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This is especially common when a person tries a new exercise. Strains and sprains A sprain is an injury to a ligament, while a strain is a tear in a tendon or muscle. Both can cause muscle spasms and pain in the lower back. Overstretching the area or falling over are common causes of sprains and strains. Sometimes muscle overuse can also cause a strain or sprain. These injuries often heal on their own, but they can be very painful for several weeks. Nerve damage Conditions or injuries that damage either the nerves in the back or the nerves that carry signals to the back can cause spasms and pain.
One of the most common forms of nerve damage is radiculopathy. This disorder results from inflammation, compression, or injury to a nerve root in the spine. Radiculopathy can cause tingling and pain. Some people may also experience a sensation that feels like a muscle spasm, even though it is not. Sciatica is one of the most common forms of radiculopathy.
It results from the compression of the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve. It usually causes pain that travels down a person's buttocks and into the leg, but the pain may also radiate into the lower back. Diabetesspinal cord injuries, and some other conditions may also cause nerve problems that can sometimes feel like a lower back spasm.
Disc disorders There is a disc cushioning each vertebra in the spine.
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Damage or injury to these discs can cause intense back pain. Osteoporosis Osteoporosis is a type of bone disorder that causes bones to become thin and weak due to calcium loss. Fragile bones, especially those bones in the spinal column, can break more easily, and there is an increased tendency for this to happen in older women.
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Osteoporosis also contributes to compression fractures, or spinal fractures in which the vertebrae become flattened. Falls, lifting heavy objects or moving the wrong way can result in a compression fracture. Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis causes any joint to become stiff, painful and swollen. It can affect the neck but almost never the joints in the lower back. Polymyalgia Rheumatica PMR Polymyalgia rheumatica is a rheumatic disorder that causes muscle pain, aching and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, lower back, thighs and hips.
It can last a few months or many years. Most people experience severe stiffness in the morning. Fibromyalgia People with fibromyalgia feel pain and stiffness in muscles and tendons, especially in the neck and upper back.
The pain can last for weeks, months or years. The symptoms may disappear by themselves. This condition often is related to sleep problems, poor conditioning or an old injury. Paget's Disease Paget's disease is a type of disorder in which the calcium in the bone spreads unevenly. The bones most commonly affected are in the lower back, pelvis, tailbone, skull and long bones of the legs.
Back pain may be a symptom, but most often there are no obvious symptoms. Paget's disease usually is discovered on an X-ray or bone scan done for reasons other than pain. Other conditions that cause back pain Sometimes pain felt in the back actually originates elsewhere in the body.
Such problems may include: Your doctor first will ask you a number of questions, the most common of which are listed as follows: What are your symptoms--that is, what aches or pains do you have? Exactly where is the pain? Where is the pain the most severe? When did the pain begin? How long have you had it? Did something specific cause your back pain, such as an accident or injury? What home treatments have you used? Were you under any additional stress when the pain began? Do you have any other health problems?
What kind of work do you do? In what types of recreational activities do you participate? Think about these ahead of time so you can answer them easily.
You also may have questions you'd like to ask the doctor. As you think of questions at home, jot them down and take them to the appointment.
Next, your doctor will give you a physical exam. During the exam, the doctor may perform any of the following: Diagnostic tests If the doctor needs more specific information, he or she may ask you to undergo one or more of the following lab tests: X-ray Studies show that in many cases of routine back pain, X-rays may not initially be necessary.
However, the signs and symptoms will determine what type of study should be done. In certain cases, X-rays might indicate that pain is due to: If your doctor advises one, a special machine takes an X-ray scan of the area.
A computer turns this scan into a three-dimensional view of the back. This helps the doctor see if there is a ruptured disc that can't be seen on regular X-rays. Other conditions that a CT scan can help detect are spinal stenosis, tumors and infections of the spinal cord. The MRI does not use X-rays or radioactive dyes.
It can provide dearer pictures of soft tissues such as muscles, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and blood vessels, in addition to bone structure. Myleogram During a myelogram, a special liquid dye called contrast medium is injected into the spinal canal. X-rays are then taken of the area. The contrast medium can make problem areas show up more dearly on the X-ray. A doctor may order a myelogram to detect problems such as spinal stenosis or spinal cord tumors. If surgery is being considered, particularly for a person who has had a serious back injury, many neurosurgeons will require a myelogram beforehand.
Bone Scan During a bone scan, a very small amount of radioactive liquid is injected into a vein and concentrates in the bones for a short time. A special radioactive detecting machine then will scan the area of concern to produce a picture. Occasionally bone scans are done to look for damage or tumors in the bones themselves. However, back pain is rarely due to diseases of the bones.
Electrodiagnostic studies Electrodiagnostic studies are used to help confirm the presence of nerve compression in the spine. An electrodiagnostic study consists of two tests. One is an electrical test, which is designed to study nerve conduction. In this test the nerve is given an electrical stimulation, and the speed of the impulse is measured. The other test is a needle test called an electromyogram, or EMG. The purpose of this test is to study the muscles for primary disease or for the effect of nerve compression on the muscle.
The compression is especially seen in herniated discs or spinal stenosis. Blood tests If your doctor orders blood tests for you, a laboratory technician will carefully draw a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm, which then will be tested in the laboratory.
Any one of the following blood tests may be ordered: Ask for an explanation of the tests. Health care team It often is difficult for doctors to find the exact cause of back pain, especially since there are so many possible causes.Beginners Body Weight Exercises for Women - Whole Body Strengthening Routine
If the cause is unclear, your family doctor may suggest that you see an orthopedist, rheumatologist, neurosurgeon, neurologist, physiatrist or other medical specialist for diagnosis.
Treatments for back pain More than 85 percent of people with lower back pain improve with minimal treatment in a matter of days. However, if back problems persist, doctors generally prescribe one or more of the following treatments: For some back conditions, the doctor may refer you to another specialist such as an orthopedist, rheumatologist, physiatrist, physical or occupational therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or surgeon.
Diet Don't be surprised if your doctor recommends weight loss as one way to reduce your back pain and improve your general health. The best way to lose weight is with a balanced diet along with regular exercise. Be sure to avoid fad diets or fast weight-loss programs. Exercise and therapy For many people, the key to a healthy back is proper exercise. Some exercises are designed to strengthen your back and stomach muscles, while other exercises are designed to improve your posture.
A minute aerobic conditioning program three times a week is ideal for overall fitness. The right kind of exercise program may help keep your back problem under control.
It can make it easier for you to continue doing your daily activities. You may need to take a break from vigorous exercise if it makes your back pain worse. Ask your doctor and physical therapist which exercises you can do to relieve back pain, stay fit, and prevent injuring yourself again. The Arthritis Foundation and the University of Washington disclaim any liability for loss, personal or otherwise, resulting from the exercises presented here.
If you have any leg pain or other evidence of nerve injury, consult you physician before beginning exercises. DO NOT carry out any exercise that makes your back pain worse!
Exercises for Back Pain - Videos The video box below is a playlist containing several video examples of exercises that are useful for managing back pain. Watch them below or on our youtube channel. Rest The most common treatment doctors recommend for severe back pain is bed rest.
Different people require different amounts of rest. Usually, two to three days of staying in bed, except to go to the bathroom, will be enough to ease your back pain. You may want to ask the doctor if special pillows or devices are necessary. Sometimes these aids give additional support to your neck, back or feet. Hot and cold treatments Many people have found that hot and cold treatments help relieve back pain. You might try both to find out which works better for you. Heat relaxes muscles and soothes painful areas.
There are many ways to apply heat. Some people like hot showers or baths, while others prefer using heat lamps, heating pads or warm compresses.
If you have arthritis, heating your muscles first might make it easier for you to do back exercises. Be sure not to fall asleep while using heat.
Cold has a numbing effect. This often helps relieve pain. You might try one of these methods for applying cold: Be sure not to leave ice on after the skin becomes numb. This could lead to localized frostbite. Do not use cold if you are especially sensitive to it or have decreased circulation or sensation. Read the pain management article for more information about heat and cold. Posture training If poor posture is a factor, then posture training may help relieve your back pain.
During posture training, an occupational or physical therapist will teach you healthier ways to sit, stand, sleep and lift objects.
Techniques for good posture: Sit in a firm chair with armrests to relieve pressure in your back and shoulders. Keep your upper back straight and shoulders relaxed. Keep stomach muscles pulled in, and maintain the proper curve in your lower back.
You can do this by tightening your stomach and buttocks. Some people are more comfortable sitting with the back of the chair at a to degree angle. A small cushion behind the lower back to maintain the natural curve of the back also can be quite helpful. Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips. Use a footstool or book under your feet if necessary.
Keep your feet flat on the floor or other surface. Don't sit for a long period of time. Stand up every now and then to stretch tight muscles and give them a chance to relax. Stand with weight equal on both feet. Avoid locking your knees. Ease tension in your back by placing one foot on a footstool. If you stand for long periods of time, wear flat or low-heeled shoes.
Keep your back straight by tightening your stomach muscles and buttocks. When sleeping, Lie on your side with your knees bent. If more comfortable, place a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side.
If you sleep on your back, ask your doctor or physical therapist if placing pillows under your knees would help your lower back pain or make it worse.
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Use a firm mattress. Body mechanics To keep good posture while in motion is to use good body mechanics. In lifting, this means that the object lifted is held close to the body and that lifting is done with your legs.
The normal back curves are maintained, the legs lift the load. Avoiding twisting your back, particularly when carrying a load, is also important for good body mechanics. Move your feet, do not twist your torso. Avoid the incorrect way; instead, lift correctly see figures 11 and When bending down to lift an object, bend with your knees instead of your back.
Hold the object close to you. Straighten your legs to lift the object. Get help with an object that is too heavy.
The type of shoes you wear can also affect your posture. High heels may put more stress on your lower back by changing your posture. You might find it more comfortable to wear low or flat heels. Cushioned-soled shoes also provide "shock absorbency" for your spine. Medications If your back pain is not relieved using other forms of treatment, your doctor may prescribe medication. The medication chosen depends on the back pain. For example, medications called analgesics can help relieve pain.
Other medications called muscle relaxants can help relax tight muscles. If your back pain is caused by arthritis, your doctor can give you medication that will reduce inflammation as well as relieve your back pain.
These medications can reduce inflammation without working like cortisone, the body's anti-inflammation steroid hormone. Learn all you can about your medications by asking your doctor or pharmacist questions such as those listed below. Questions to ask the doctor about medications: What will the medication do? How long will it take before I notice results? What is the name of the medication? Is there a generic brand?