When Lower Back Pain Becomes Unbearable

Lower back pain is something that many people have learned to live with over the years. If you are in an accident or have an old injury, then it’s possible that your lower back pain will flare at different points in life.

Many people find ways to cope with the pain. But when is the point that the pain is so unbearable that you need medical treatment?

The recommendations vary from patient to patient, depending on the cause of pain and the person’s tolerance levels. Additionally, your daily activities can influence whether you need lower back pain treatment.

Why are You Experiencing Back Pain?

As you get older, seemingly simple activities might cause your back pain to get worse. For example, something like picking up a child or doing yard work can be enough to tweak your back and result in mild, moderate, or even severe pain.

Degenerative conditions and arthritis are more common, starting around the age of 35 years old. Often, these conditions contribute to lower back pain.

Some people get used to the pain and assume that it is a normal part of aging. However, while back pain is more common in adults, it doesn’t mean that you have to continue living with chronic pain.

The most important thing our team of pain management specialists will do is identify the reason why you are feeling pain. When we can diagnose the underlying causes, then it’s easier to find a treatment plan that actually works to alleviate your discomfort – now and in the future.

How to Tell When Your Back Pain is an Emergency

When you injure your back after a specific activity, such as a wrong twist or lift, the pain should usually go away within 72 hours. A little rest and ice can reduce inflammation and help you feel better.

But if you notice that the pain doesn’t go away, or seems to be getting worse with time, then you might have a severe condition that needs to be addressed.

Watch for a few symptoms that indicate your pain is more than an inconvenience. These warning signs could be pointing to a serious medical emergency that needs to be treated right away:

  1. Type of Pain: A dull ache isn’t as concerning as a sharp or intense pain. If you have a sudden onset of intense pain, it could indicate a torn ligament or muscle. Additionally, this type of back pain could be a symptom of an issue with an internal organ.
  2. Weakness or Numbness in the Legs: A sudden onset of numbness or weakness in the legs could be an indication that a structural issue is affecting the nerves. Conditions such as spinal stenosis or sciatica can put pressure on the nerves. Or the weakness could be an indication of a stroke.
  3. Moving or Radiating Pain: Does your pain stay in one area or move around? If you notice that the pain is shooting or moving to other parts of the body, then it could mean that you have a compressed nerve.
  4. Pins and Needles or Numbness in the Groin: A condition called “saddle anesthesia” can cause sensations in the glutes or groin. It’s another indication of a severe spine condition or nerve issues.
  5. Incontinence: Losing control of your bladder or bowels is a sign of a serious condition. When back pain coincides with incontinence, it might be a spinal infection or extreme nerve compression.

How to Handle Unbearable Low Back Pain

When your pain is flaring, do you have strategies to address the pain so you can get back on your feet again? If you know that your low back pain is a problem, you need to have a plan to treat the pain when it occurs.

Manage your low back pain with these tips:

  • Gentle Exercise: In most situations, it’s wise to keep moving. When your physical activities reduce, then it can cause muscle tightness and stiffness. Even though you are hurting, look for ways to maintain gentle exercises – such as yoga, walking, or swimming.
  • Rest When Needed: If you overexert and strain your back from an intense exercising session or lifting things around the house, then you might need a little time to rest. Put your feet up, ice the sore area for 20 minutes at a time, and reduce the intensity of your activities for a few days.
  • Ice and Heat: When the pain is intense, ice or heat can be helpful to alleviate the discomfort. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and decrease swelling. Heat soothes the muscles and improves circulation. Try both to see which one is most effective for you.
  • OTC Medications: Occasionally, it can be helpful to take an over-the-counter medication to alleviate your pain. NSAIDs such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin not only assist with pain relief but also help to reduce swelling and inflammation. However, keep in mind that these pills are only temporary solutions – it’s harmful to take pain relievers on an ongoing basis.

Low Back Pain Prevention Tips

Also, there’s no reason to wait for the low back pain to flare before you do something to address the pain. When you know that you are at risk for back pain, then there are things that you can do to prevent flare-ups in the future:

  • Focus on Core Strength: A strong core is vital to hold your spine in place and minimize pain flare-ups. Not only does it help to strengthen the muscles, but it also spends time stretching for flexibility.
  • Consider Your Posture: Your body position throughout the day affects how the muscles and spine perform. Posture is especially important if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer or doing repetitive tasks at work. Improve your posture and take breaks to stretch and move at least every hour.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: When you carry around extra weight, it puts unnecessary pressure on the spine. Weight loss reduces the mechanical force impacting the bones and muscles. In addition, small, daily habits to improve diet and exercise are helpful to lose weight sustainably.

Work With a Pain Management Specialist

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, then a pain management specialist can be a great resource to help you with immediate relief and in the future. You’re invited to call us at Kentuckiana Pain Specialists, where you can learn more about whole-body support for pain control. Our comprehensive pain management programs offer alternative treatments for optimal results. If you live in or near Louisville, Kentucky, call us at (502) 995-4004.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *