Low back pain is so common that most of the people assume that it is always related to a muscle strain or to a joint strain.
However, this may not always be true and you should know that there are some red flags that should make you go see a doctor as soon as possible.
For starters, you should understand how low back pain is classified according to its duration. There are three types of low back pain: acute (which usually lasts less than six weeks), under-chronic (which will last anything between six and twelve weeks) and chronic (which lasts more than 12 weeks).
Also, understanding low back pain causes is extremely important. The first and most common cause for this kind of pain is the lumbar strain.
This can be diagnosed quite easily, but some doctors will run imaging tests as well (X-rays, for instance), to exclude other bone anomalies.
Treatment usually includes pain-killers (such as those containing Ibuprofen) and slow exercise, as well as avoiding to be hurt again.
Nerve irritation can also be a cause of pain in the low back. In its turn, this irritation can be caused by a series of conditions, some of which are more common than expected.
Such an example is the nerve irritation caused by congenital bone conditions. In this case, the child is born with an abnormally looking spine, and the most common such conditions are Scoliosis and Spina Bifida.
Other, less common causes that may lead to low back pain include Shingles, an acute infection that affects the nerves in charge of the skin sensation.
This disease is believed to be caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. In the case of people who have suffered from chickenpox earlier in life, the virus may remain in a dormant state in the spine. At a certain point, it may “wake up” and it may affect the nerves.
Tiny blisters, as well as back pain, may occur (followed by skin rash, and, after the disease disappears, by chronic nerve issues).
In the case of women, ovarian issues can also be the cause of back pain. Cysts, Endometriosis and even Uterine Fibroids can cause severe back pain and these cases are not very rare.
Furthermore, kidneys can also be the source of the back pain. In case there is an infection or in case stones have formed in the kidneys, the acute low back pain will appear.
Ovarian-caused back pain and kidney-caused back pain can sometimes feel very similar, and this is why the doctor will have to perform a series of tests to ensure that the diagnosis is correct.
As you can see, there may be a lot of reasons behind a simple back pain and not just a strain. The most important thing is to see how long it lasts and to go to the doctor as soon as possible. Only a professional will be able to put the correct diagnose.
Furthermore, remember to watch after the red flags described underneath, since these are the first signs that will make the difference between a simple strain and other causes of low back pain (infections, tumors, neurological problems, and so on).
1- Rapid and drastic weight loss is definitely among the first things to look after. Together with back pain, it can be a symptom of cancer.
2- Furthermore, if the patient knows that there has been a cancer history in his/her family, then he/she should go see a doctor immediately.
3- If the patient has lost the control over his/her bladder and bowel, it should be considered to be a low back pain red flag.
4- Motor weakness and sensory deficit are also considered to be red flags when they are associated with low back pain.
5- Saddle anesthesia (loss of sensation in the buttock area) is also a red flag if it comes along with back pain. Furthermore, together with bowel and bladder loss of control and motor weakness, it can be a symptom of CaudaEquina Syndrome.
This syndrome is a very serious condition at the neurological level that can be caused by a lot of things, including tumors, lesions, trauma, Spinal Stenosis and inflammatory conditions.
6- If the patient experiences a lot of pain after a lumbar surgery performed over the last 12 months, it could be a sign of infection.
7- An infection red flag is considered to be the fact that fever appears.
8- Also, if urinary tract infection and low back pain appear together, it is considered to be a red flag for a lumbar infection.
9- Intravenous drug use can also be a red flag of infection when it occurs with low back pain.
10- Immunosuppression is the lowering efficacy of the immune system. It can be caused by a lot of things, such as HIV, Lupus, auto-immune diseases, Crohn’s disease, after a bone marrow transplant, and so on. If it appears together with back pain, it can be considered to be a sign of infection.
11- Age-related trauma and low back pain can be considered to be a sign of fracture.
12- Furthermore, a sign of fracture is considered to be the combination between the usage of chronic corticosteroid and low back pain.
If you have experienced low back pain and you know of any of the red flags described above, then you should go see a doctor as soon as possible. After examination, a diagnosis will be put and you will be given treatment to fit the cause of your back pain.
Although the causes for this particular pain may vary a lot, it has become so frequent among adults in the United States that it has been officially named as the most encountered type of pain at a national level.
Each year, this means that there are a lot of costs involved in treating patients who suffer from such pains and only in 1998 these costs raised up to over $90 million dollars.