Low Back Pain

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

To read more about a "catch" or locking sensation in your back, please read this informative ARTICLE.

Causes of Low Back Pain

 back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpainLow Back Pain

Low back pain is very common.  Nearly 80% of the population will have lower back pain at some point during their life. The severity may vary from mild soreness to debilitating pain.  On average, an episode of low back pain lasts about 6 weeks.

Pain in the lower back may lead to symptoms of 

  • numbness
  • tingling 
  • pain in the legs and buttocks.  

There are numerous structures in the lower back which may cause pain. The most common issues stem from lumbar disk and facet joint issues. 

True muscle strains in the lower back are less common, though patients may have muscle pain due to muscle spasms.

 back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpainAnatomy of the Spine 

If you would like to learn more about the anatomy of the back or spine, this VIDEO may help: 

What Relieves Lower Back Pain? What is the Best Treatment for a Painful Lower Back?

With a fresh onset of low back pain, the best initial treatment is to avoid any activity which increases pain.  Sometimes this means avoid bending forward, prolonged sitting, or prolonged walking or standing activity. Anti-inflammatory medications may be appropriate, but it is best to consult a physician before beginning a medication regimen. 

Ice may help decrease pain during the first 48 to 72 hours.  Heat may bring relief after this point.  

If symptoms persist for more than a few days, it may be best to consult a physician and consider physical therapy. In many cases, physical therapy is the initial first course of treatment before further studies, such as X-rays or MRIs are performed.  

Physical therapy is typically aimed at 

  • reducing pain
  • increasing mobility
  • re-educating muscles
  • returning to prior activities.  

If there is severe pain or loss of strength or sensation in one or both legs, a physician should be consulted immediately, as this may be a sign of a more serious issue.  

Watch this VIDEO to Learn some basic lower back stretches.

How Should I Sleep with Lower Back Pain? 2 Best Sleeping Positions with Lower Back Pain

Difficulty sleeping is a common issue with people dealing with pain in the lower back.  In most situations, the best positions are laying on your back with pillows under the legs/knees to slightly elevate them.  This places the pelvis and lower back in a position which applies less stress to irritated structures.

 decrease back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpainSleeping position on back with pillows under knees

If side-sleeping is preferred, bend the knees and place a pillow between them.  This will help align the pelvis and lower back and limit irritation during sleep.

managing back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpain while sleepingSide-lying sleeping position with pillow between the knees.

Is Walking Good for Lower Back Pain?

 walking to prevent back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpainwalking with lower back pain

The quick answer is typically yes, but it depends on the severity.  Limiting walking is typically recommended during the first 2 to 3 days after the onset of pain but after that, mild walking activity may be appropriate.

 Movement is typically good, as long as it does not increase symptoms.  It is best to start with a short walk and see how you feel.  If pain is increased, you may want to limit the activity for a few more days.  In many cases, standing and walking is more tolerable than sitting activity.  

Is it Good to Crack Your Back?

 cracking or popping back for back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpainMan cracking his lower back

Many people who have low back pain ask how to crack their lower back?  Spinal manipulation can be a useful tool for treating some sources of low back pain but it should be performed by a skilled professional.  

The "cracking" sound is actually the sound of the synovial fluid in the facet joints of the spine releasing a gas due to a quick change in volume of the joint capsule.  When this happens, the pain receptors in the joint can slow their input and endorphins are released.  It's kind of like hitting the reset button. 

This may help to decrease pain and increase mobility.  The sensation can be addictive though.  Repetitive self-manipulation may irritate the low back.

Can Kidneys Cause Lower Back Pain?

Kidney Ultrasound to diagnose  back lower pain lower backpain lowerbackpainKidney Ultrasound due to lower back pain

The quick answer is yes, kidneys can cause lower back pain.  Most of the time, pain in the lower back is caused from structures in the spine.  But, in rare cases, pain in the low back may be referred from the kidney. 

Pain that is referred from the kidney typically does not change with position.  Symptoms from the kidney may also include 

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal spasms
  • Shoulder pain.

If you want to learn back or spine tips, go to: Spine Tips

To schedule an appointment for physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.  We can also come to your home with the JOI Rehab Bridge Program.  

Related Articles: Direct Access to Physical Therapy and Body Mechanics.

Is Pain at Night a Red Flag?  Is my Low Back Pain a sign of Cancer?

Pain at night can be a red flag, but not always.  It is common for people with lower back pain to have pain when they are laying down.  But if the pain begins while sleeping or it wakes you at night for no reason, this may be a sign of a more serious health.  If this occurs, go see your doctor right away for further evaluation.

Lower Back Doctors in Jacksonville

If you have low back pain, come see the lower back pain experts.  The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has the top physicians, surgeons, and therapists to treat your low back and get you back to the life you love.  

To schedule an appointment, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below. 

Back and Neck Specialists

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