Why Does My Back Hurt and Should I Be Worried?

Statistics show that 80 percent of the population will experience an episode of low back pain for some duration in their life. It will usually get better with time, but it is not uncommon for low back pain to return.

So it’s okay – you’re not alone. 

Back Pain

The intensity of back pain can range in intensity from a constant dull ache to sharp, sudden or shooting pain depending on its presentation. Most of the time, a specific cause for low back pain cannot be identified but this does not mean it cannot be treated. Low back pain can be categorised based on its duration of presentation:

Acute – Short term back pain that lasts a few days to a few weeks. Most cases of low back pain fall under this category and often can resolve itself within a few days with self-care. However, in some cases, symptoms may last a few months before dissipating. 

Chronic – Often defined as pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, chronic back pain presents itself even when the initial injury has been treated.

Am I At Risk of Low Back Pain

Anyone can have low back pain, but there are some factors to watch out for.

Here are some below:

Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically active. This can be attributed to the inadequate muscle engagement in the back and abdominal muscles in supporting the spine. However, doing too much exercise in one sitting after being inactive throughout the week can also result in painful injury. Moderation is key. 

Weight: Being overweight or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain. 

Psychological/Mental Health:  Mood, depression, stress and psychological wellbeing influences how someone perceives their severity of pain. Stress can also attribute to muscular tension and lead to responses such as guarding.

Job-related Factors: Having a job that requires heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, particularly when combined with torsion or vibration of the spine increase the risk of injury. On the flip side, working at a desk all day can contribute to pain especially from poor posture or a lack of back support.

Smoking: Blood flow restriction to discs [which already have a limited blood flow] causing them to degenerate faster.  

Backpack overload in children: Loading a school bag with lots of textbooks and school supplies can increase the strain on the lower back and cause muscular fatigue.

Do I Need to Get a Scan and When Should I be Seeking Medical Attention?

The majority of patients presenting with acute low back pain will require no imaging at all. According to RANZCR [Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists] guidelines, the only recommended imaging modalities of the lumbar spine are X-ray and MRI scans (unless a vertebral fracture is the main diagnosis in question). Furthermore, a scan is unlikely to find the reason for your pain nor does it change how it will be managed.

Most of the time, back pain can settle by itself. However, sometimes back pain can be the result of a very serious issue. It is important to seek medical attention if you have any of the below symptoms:

  • Loss of bladder/bowel control
  • Numbness around buttocks or genitalia
  • Numbness, pins and needles or weakness in both legs
  • Unsteadiness with walking
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night chills, fevers, nausea/vomiting or unrelenting night pains

Can I Prevent Back Pain From Occurring?

The recurrence of back pain can be the result of faulty biomechanics regarding posture and poor manual handling of lifting tasks. It is found that many work-related injuries are often caused or aggravated by stressors including repetitive heavy lifting, exposure to high vibration frequencies, and sustained awkward postures.

So, what are a few things we can do to prevent this?

As previously mentioned, a few things that can help keep our back healthy include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding extended periods of rest
  • Quit smoking
  • Eating nutritiously to maintain a healthy weight
  • Breaking up static positions with periodic walks or gentle stretches
  • Wear comfortable low-heeled shoes
  • Lifting with appropriate manual handling technique

At Precision Physio, our clinicians can help you in designing an exercise program tailored to your physical condition to help you achieve your needs and goals.

How Do I Book An Appointment?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call any of these numbers to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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