What to do with acute back pain?
Did you know that back pain is the second most popular reason (after a cold) to see a doctor? Complaints of an acute pain reaction in the lower back, lower back, sternum, or neck occur among people of any age, but most often in representatives of the middle and older age groups. With the problem of pain, patients often turn to a general practitioner, a general practitioner, or a neurologist. There can be many reasons, from a sedentary lifestyle to joint problems and even life-threatening conditions. Many researchers say that most applications reveal a common problem: back pain is often an obvious consequence of lifestyle and work structure.
In this article, we will tell you how to deal with this unpleasant condition and how to prevent it from occurring.
What to do for acute back pain
Those who have been experiencing discomfort in the spine for a long time and regularly already know how to help themselves cope with a new symptom. But what to do when the pain caught suddenly, at home or in the office?
Of course, the first solution that comes to mind is an anesthetic drug. Apply it externally or take an anti-inflammatory pill inside – this is what everyone encounters pain for the first time does. NSAIDs relieve pain and neutralize the inflammatory process. In the absence of medicines, sometimes a tight fixation of a sore spot helps, for example, bandaging the lumbar area with a scarf or sweater. This immobilizes the area in which the pain is localized. If you feel a “shooting” pain in the cervical spine and a little lower, use a bandage, and with lumbar backache, a corset belt has proven to be a temporary relief.
Be sure to try to reduce the load on the spine. Even the body’s weight is already a significant load on it, so we recommend lying down, taking a natural position, and seeking to reduce the manifestations of pain.
What can not be done?
Of course, you should not immediately resort to active measures: exclude, if possible, the load on the spine, do not bend over and do not bend over without a good reason, do not allow yourself to stand in an uncomfortable position, do not lift weights. Maintain the most static position, and move without sharp attacks.
When pain occurs, it is strictly forbidden to take a hot bath or go to the bath or sauna. This can seriously aggravate the process, whatever it was caused by. Also, try not to sleep on hard, uncomfortable surfaces, as this can worsen the pain. You can also not do massages, which can aggravate muscle spasms. Relaxing strokes can be helpful and effective.
Do not try to cool or warm up the sore spot. Moist heating is especially dangerous.
With the help of first aid measures, you can slightly smooth out the acute picture of the disease, but this will only give temporary relief. As soon as the opportunity arises, seek help from a specialist.
Varieties of pain
Both sharp and aching pain in the back can have a different origin. There are several varieties of it.
Specific pain usually has a specific and fairly easily detected cause by standard methods:
- Infectious processes
- Compression injuries of the spine
- Diseases of the pelvic organs
These cases account for only 3% of the total number of pain episodes for which people seek medical attention.
Diagnosis of pain in the lower back and other parts of the spine has several “red flags” – symptoms that indicate serious diseases. If at least one of these symptoms is combined with pain in the back, you should urgently consult a doctor. Here is a list of red flags:
- rapid weight loss for no apparent reason, especially in combination with fever;
- malignant tumors in the past;
- gradual increase in pain intensity;
- Paralysis, impaired sensitivity, feeling of weakness in the lower extremities, dysfunction of the pelvic organs – this often indicates damage to the spinal cord;
- age up to 20 years;
- Gait disturbance, increased pain at night, the persistence of pain with a change in body position;
- Spinal injury in combination with age over 55 years (suspected osteoporosis, fracture of the spine).
Radicular pain in the back is much more common, and it occurs due to inflammation or pinching of the spinal cord. This type of pain manifests itself in different ways, but it is evidenced by an increase in the intensity of the pain syndrome during exercise, activity, coughing, or when you want to sneeze.
Nonspecific pain in the back usually occurs acutely, without an explicit indication of specific causes. In most cases, such pain indicates the presence of dystrophic changes in the cartilage or bone tissues of the spinal column, pathologies of the muscles, and ligaments that support the spinal apparatus. The ICD-10 has a separate section for diagnosing such conditions, called dorsopathies.
Most cases are associated with disorders in the work of the spine, each of which can become a localization of pain impulses. In this case, the pain can be caused by compression of the nerve endings – such pain is called compression or spasms and pathologies of the surrounding tissues – in this case, you are dealing with reflex pain.
Depending on where it hurts, even the symptom can have different names. For example, if the problem is in the cervical region, the neck does not unbend. Such pain is called cervicalgia; if the discomfort comes from the lumbosacral region, it is called lumbalgia. Suppose you are worried about lower back pain. In that case, it is better not to look for symptoms and treatment on the Internet but to find a doctor whose profile of activity is the diagnosis and treatment of discomfort in the back area.
Which doctor to contact
Looking for answers to relieve acute lower back pain is not always necessary. It is better to consult a specialist. A vertebrologist specializes in pain in the spinal column – a narrow orthopedic specialty with a deepening in spinal surgery. So, if there is no full-time vertebrologist in an accessible polyclinic or private clinic, make an appointment with an orthopedic traumatologist.
Also, with painful sensations in different parts of the spine, a neurologist can help – in cases where pain occurs due to nervous system pathologies. Sometimes you have to turn to a urologist or gynecologist – when the pain is localized in the pelvic area and its cause is a disease of the corresponding organs.
Diseases that cause back pain
Among the main reasons for the development of pain in the back, it is customary to single out those associated with the pathology of the spinal column (vertebrogenic causes) and those caused by pathologies of other organs and systems (non-vertebrogenic causes). The first ones include:
- pathological processes in the intervertebral discs, including hernias and spondylitis;
- joint diseases;
- consequences of injuries;
- congenital anomalies and malformations of the spine.
The causes of back pain caused by diseases of other organs include:
- muscle sprains, ligament injuries;
- chronic muscle pain diagnosed as a myofascial syndrome;
- diseases of internal organs, pelvic organs;
- mental disorders;
- problems with the cardiovascular system.
Of course, different types of pain indicate different diseases. When moving, sharp pain in the lower back may be completely unrelated to other people’s sharp pain in the lower back. Yes, even though all these symptoms are called dorsalgia, they can be caused by completely different factors.
At the same time, the most common provocateurs or risk factors for the development of pain in the back are:
- excessive or insufficient exercise: (you can “tear off” your back by unsuccessfully reaching for a heavy load or “sit out” your tailbone after spending the whole day motionless);
- hypothermia: often leads to pain, especially in the cervical region;
- long forced stay in a non-physiological position;
- careless and abrupt movements;
- excess weight: the additional load on the muscle corset. Constantly overstraining, the muscles can react with soreness and spasms.
The muscular corset plays a significant role in the functioning of the spine. Due to hyperdynamic, many people have an imbalance in the work of the muscles. Some of them are not loaded enough and become weaker and shortened. Others, experiencing overload, are constantly in tension and stretched. This situation, naturally, leads to malnutrition of the muscles, their inflammation (myositis), and, as a result, the appearance of painful sensations.
Intervertebral discs, which act as a softening shock absorber between the vertebrae, may also cease to cope with their main task over time. This can happen abruptly – when lifting weights, or gradually – due to obesity or forced uncomfortable posture. With age, dystrophic processes can occur inside the disc, disclosing the necessary elasticity. This leads to a condition popularly referred to as osteochondrosis.
Sometimes the pathology is so serious that the internal parts of the disc affect the nearby tissues, the nerve roots. This causes protrusions and then hernias, usually accompanied by intense pain. By itself, this situation already worsens the quality of life. Because the intervertebral discs can no longer cope with the load, transferring it to the intervertebral joints also wear out and lead to pain.
In addition, often, the cause of pain is a violation of posture – with a curvature of the spine caused by an incorrect position during work, there may be back pain after sleep, in the morning. Soreness between the shoulder blades when pulling in the upper back is an almost obvious sign of poor sitting posture. It is best not to engage in self-diagnosis but to consult a doctor who, using various diagnostic methods, will help determine the source of pain and prescribe the necessary therapy and, in some cases, surgical treatment.
When referring to modern international diagnostic standards, we see that in the absence of threatening symptoms and “red flags,” it is not necessary to immediately prescribe a full-fledged laboratory and instrumental examination to a patient with back pain, including an X-ray of any part of the spine, as well as CT or magnetic resonance imaging. It is recommended to prescribe such imaging methods if the doctor suspects a specific nature of the pain syndrome, injury or muscle damage, or nervous diseases.
Most often, nonspecific back pain is a result of musculoskeletal pathology. Muscular-tonic, myofascial, and arthropathic pain syndromes can be diagnosed. Each of them has a different developmental mechanism and a different therapy program. It is unlikely that even a patient savvy in amateur vertebrology will be able to independently determine the nature of the pain, even if you know that you are worried about acute pain in the spine in the middle of the back – this can only be done by specialists.
1. Help with acute pain in the lower back and other parts of the spine should first aim at the regression of pain sensations, minimizing the initial symptoms. The doctor seeks to restore the patient’s activity and mobility and also reduce the risk of pain becoming chronic. If the doctor you contacted tries to involve you in the treatment process, convinces you with all his might of the possibility of getting rid of pain, explains the causes of its occurrence, and explains in detail the treatment tactics, most likely you have come to a specialist who cares about the patient’s comfort during successful treatment.
2. In the acute period of the disease, for men and women suffering from pain in the spine, it is important to monitor the feasibility of physical activity. It is also important to avoid episodes of prolonged non-physiological sitting or recumbency. Bed rest is unnecessary – the sooner you start moving as much as possible, the faster you can get rid of the pain.
3. Some orthopedic products can be used to support and stabilize the spine externally. So that you don’t prick anywhere, don’t press or shoot, you can choose a bandage, corset, orthosis, or posture corrector. All these items unload the spinal column while stabilizing it.
4. Often, physiotherapeutic methods of influencing a disturbing place are also included in the conservative stage of treatment. Manual therapy and physiotherapy are all important parts of an integrated approach to getting rid of spinal diseases. Kinesiology taping helps a lot.
Often the pain is easier to prevent than to get rid of the consequences of its occurrence. A respectful approach to the body and a lifestyle that includes disease prevention will help reduce the frequency and severity of disease episodes. For prevention, you do not need to spend money and plan something special. Just take time for yourself, take care of yourself, because the health of your body is in your hands.
Some easy-to-follow recommendations will help you avoid back pain. It is important to control this situation, especially if the pain first manifests itself at a young age. Subsequently, as the body wears out, the disease can lead to complications.
Start with shoes
When walking and running, the spine also has a significant load. Do not wear shoes with high heels and completely flat soles. We recommend a low heel of 1-2.5 cm. Sports shoes must be equipped with a springy sole or special insoles.
Make sure the body is in the right position.
During sedentary work, sit straight and do not stoop or slouch. Change your body position as often as possible: take breaks, walk around the office, and go out into the fresh air.
When carrying heavy loads, try to distribute the weight of the load evenly.
It is better to sit down with a straight back to lift heavy backpacks and bags than to bend down and arch your back.
The next step in the prevention of back problems is gymnastics.
A strong muscular corset takes on the part of the load on the spine, which means that it is important that the muscles of the back and abdomen, adjacent to the base of the musculoskeletal system, are strong and functional. Physiotherapy exercises and exercises developed by scientists and doctors will help you strengthen your muscles.