In Australia on any day, 1 in 4 people have lower back pain from a wide range of causes. It is estimated only half seek treatment.
Of all lower back pain, 85% will resolve within 6 weeks, 10% will take 3 months, and the remainder take longer. This small group either have a more serious case such as a vertebral fracture or spinal surgery, have not taken the right approach to managing their pain, or they have a condition known as Chronic Pain.
Professions and activities that involve long periods of sitting, or repetitive lifting have the highest rates of back pain. Also, almost every sport can develop back pain, but hockey, cricket and rugby league are the most common amongst Australian sports. Whiplash following motor vehicle accidents are also common.
Persistent or recurrent back pain is not uncommon. Individualised management is key.
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Why does my back pain come and go?
The reasons vary greatly depending on the person, their injury, their age, and how long you've had the pain. However, a common reason is may be that there is often a time lag between the activity that aggravates the injury, and the actual moment the pain is felt. This delay between stimulus and pain makes the pain seem random, and that the pain will “come and go”. Some detective work can usually detect which activities to change.
It is important to remember - the human pain system is complex and if the above explanation doesn’t fit, you would benefit from a professional and more individualised assessment of your back pain.
Why is my back pain worse in the morning?
The most common reason for this is that there is an inflammatory process. The accumulation of fluid at the site of injury peaks overnight and during periods of little movement, for example sleep and sitting. The first movements after a period of little movement are usually very painful.
This applies to the majority of injuries, however not all injuries that behave this way are inflammatory in nature.
Why is my back pain affecting my leg(s)?
This could be pain, weakness, pins and needles, or a combination that are felt in the legs. The most common reason is referred pain or symptoms, where the main injury site is in one location, but the pain or symptoms are felt elsewhere. In this case, a back injury may be felt in the legs. The spine is a strong and robust system of bones and soft tissue, but because of its close relationship to the nervous system, even basic injuries can be felt in the buttock, thigh or calf.