Flare-ups occur randomly, usually in association with existing mild, moderate, or acute back pain.
Back pain is a common health issue that affects people from all walks of life. While some back pain issues are caused by diseases and injuries sustained during sports or an accident, others are random flare-ups that can happen at any time. Like other neuromuscular conditions, back pain flare-ups can be agonizing and disabling. As such, getting medical attention when you experience an episode is recommended. In addition, taking certain preventive measures to evade developing flare-ups is important to remain healthy and avoid inconvenience. Keep reading to learn more about back pain flare-ups and other related information.
What are Back Pain Flare-Ups?
A flare-up is the worsening of lower back pain conditions that go on for hours to weeks but can’t last for longer than a month. It often affects patients with recurrent or existing chronic pain issues. Back pain flare-ups are more severe, hence the need to prevent them before they even happen.
What Causes Back Pain Flare-Ups?
Several issues can cause back pain flare-ups. Increased or prolonged activity amid a back pain issue can result in flare-ups, as can stress, anxiety, and depression. Changes in medication can result in flare-ups as the body responds to the new regimen. In addition, hormonal changes, particularly a decrease in estrogen levels, loosen the vertebrae’s ligaments, often resulting in agonizing pain for individuals with mild to chronic back pain. Some diseases and infections, such as arthritis, can cause flare-ups. Weather changes can also cause back pain flare-ups, especially among people whose bodies are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Back Plain Flare-Ups Risk Factors
Poor Sitting and Standing Posture
People with poor sitting or standing posture or both are at a high risk of developing back pain flare-ups. Prolonged bending when sitting or standing can put more stress on your abdominal, back, and core muscles, resulting in increased strains and low blood flow supply. These issues can trigger flare-ups and make your back painful.
Minimal to No Physical Activity
Living a sedentary life makes you more likely to develop back pain flare-ups. Lack of exercise makes your back muscles weaker and more prone to flare-ups. On the other hand, people who train their backs more have stronger muscles that can withstand back pain flare-ups. Consequently, active individuals experience fewer back pain flare-up problems.
Back Muscles Spasms
Muscle spasms are also a risk factor for back pain flare-ups. If you have back pain flare-ups, then chances are that muscle spasms are the ones to blame. Although spasms are always harmless and temporary, involuntary contractions of the back muscles when you have a recurrent or existing pain issue will cause flare-ups. The spasms can be due to not using the back muscles correctly, fatigue from overextension, low potassium or magnesium levels, and some underlying conditions.
Acute Pain Issues
Individuals with long-term chronic back pain problems experience more flare-up issues than those without. In fact, experiencing flare-ups is part of living with acute pain. Flare-ups are common in people with chronic back pain issues because any small problem, say a change in temperature or poor posture, can significantly exacerbate it.
Anxiety and Stress
People who undergo anxiety and stress episodes are at more risk of having back pain flare-ups. Anxiety and stressful times are notorious for increasing tension in muscles throughout the body. The increased tension can lead to flare-ups if you already have back pain issues.
Common Back Pain Flair-Ups Symptoms
Intense pain in the Rib Cage or Lower Back
The most obvious symptom of flare-ups is acute pain in the lower back. The burning or stabbing pain can spread to the upper back and some parts of your rib cage. Besides, the pain can worsen when you stand, sit, or move.
Widespread Back or Limb Tingling Sensations
In addition to intense pain, back pain flare-ups are associated with tingling sensations. The pain can pinch one or more nerves in the back muscles, creating a tingling feeling as a result of peripheral neuropathy. The tingling sensation can spread to the arms and legs.
Problems with Activities of Daily Living
Another sign of back pain flare-ups is having problems with or being unable to perform day-to-day activities. Flare-ups can cause disabling pain conditions that make doing activities like bathing, cooking, and going to work difficult. Moreover, flare-ups can generate movement avoidance, causing fear-avoidance beliefs, which can prevent patients from engaging in any activity. This symptom makes patients with back pain flare-ups dependent on others for various activities of daily living.
Besides taking a heavy toll on the body, back pain flare-ups cause emotional problems. Flare-ups can make patients stressed and worried about their pain and condition. Also, the issue can make a victim sad and discouraged about their recovery and life. The psychological distress attributed to back pain flare-ups can drastically lower a person’s life quality and well-being. While managing flare-ups, treating associated emotional problems is essential for fast and effective recovery outcomes.
Back Pain Flare-Ups Diagnosis and Treatment
During diagnosis, your physician will examine your back and assess your ability to move or maintain certain positions. You might also be asked about your pain level on a scale of zero to 10. They will also ask about your medical history to know when the flare-ups started and other relevant aspects of the condition. The doctor may conduct more tests for accurate diagnosis. These assessments are significant in identifying the pain’s origin and severity.
Various treatment methods can help manage back pain flare-ups. Physicians administer pharmacological treatments to relieve pain and eliminate the underlying problem. These include analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs for reducing pain and inflammation. Opioids may be used for severe and prolonged issues. Physical therapy is also widely used in back pain flare-up treatment. Guided physical therapy exercises strengthen the back muscles, ease the vertebrae, and promote blood flow, thus improving healing. Lifestyle modifications and alternative treatment regimens, including acupuncture and massage, are also widely applied in treating flare-ups.
Medical practitioners can perform various tests to determine the cause of back pain flare-ups. X-ray tests are handy in determining the cause of flare-ups since images generated from the test can help identify any affected bones. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is another test for back pain flare-ups. This test can pick up issues in your spine and help determine the exact cause and location of injuries on your back. Moreover, a computerized tomography (CT) scan can be applied to determine underlying flare-up causes. For a more thorough diagnosis, CT scans generate more comprehensive images that reveal issues with bones, blood vessels, muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes back pain to flare up?
Overexertion, in which you overwork your back beyond its capability, is the common cause of back pain flare-ups. Some neuroskeletal system diseases and infections, as well as psychological distress problems like anxiety, depression, and stress, lead to flare-ups. Hormonal, medication, and weather changes also cause back pains to flare up for days or weeks.
How long do lumbar flare-ups last?
Lumbar flare-ups can last anywhere between a few hours and several weeks. However, the time varies from individual to individual, but it can’t last for months.
How long does a pain flare-up last?
Generally, a pain flare-up can last a few hours to a couple of weeks but not months. Nonetheless, there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for back pain flare-ups because they vary from one individual to another based on their cause and other factors.
Is it normal for back pain to come and go?
It is common to feel back pain symptoms that come and go. Nevertheless, you should get alarmed if the pain flares up for hours to days or weeks. Seeking medical attention before the pain worsens is indispensable for alleviating pain and improving overall well-being.
What does a back flare-up feel like?
A back flare-up pain is sharp and stabbing in nature. It may also feel like muscle cramps.
How do you stop a back flare-up?
You can stop a back pain flare-up by not overexerting yourself in any physical activity until after full recovery. Maintaining a good posture when sitting and standing can go a long way in evading flare-ups. It’s also great to avoid stress and anxiety to let your back muscles and vertebrae relax.
What makes a back flare-up better?
Pharmacological treatments, such as analgesics, anti-inflammatory, and opioid medications, can alleviate back flair-ups. Physical therapy, through several regulated exercises, also has the capacity to make flare-ups better. Adopting an active and healthy lifestyle can better flare-ups as well.
Are Flare-Ups Normal?
Flare-ups are not normal. They are usually signs of an underlying issue with the affected body part. Getting medical help when you experience back pain flare-ups is vital for managing the problem. If you have the chance, preventing flare-ups before they happen is even better.
How do I know if my back pain is serious?
Sharp pain that does not go away for hours or days is a sign of a serious issue. You also know that your back pain is severe if it prevents you from doing activities of daily living, forcing you to depend on others for help. Your case is also severe if your arms and legs tingle amid back pain episodes. This is because acute back pain issues always spread to other body parts, including the limbs.
What organ causes back pain inflammation?
The kidneys are notorious for causing back pain and inflammation. These organs flank the spine on either side. Unfortunately, various conditions that attack the kidney sometimes extend to the spine, causing pain and inflammation. These conditions include kidney stones and kidney infection or acute pyelonephritis. Kidney stones can cause pain and inflammation on one or both sides of the spine, while kidney infection puts pain on the left side of the lower back.
How do I know if my back pain is inflamed?
Inflammatory back pain has many symptoms that can be used to identify it. It’s usually a localized, acute pain that lasts longer than typical back pain issues. Inflamed back pain is mostly felt at night or early in the morning. Abdominal pain, fatigue, and knee or ankle pain are other symptoms that can indicate you have inflamed back pain. The condition betters with exercise and movement. Taking anti-inflammatory medication can also improve the issue.
What to do during a pain flare-up?
If you experience flaring pain, stop what you’re doing, particularly if it’s a physical activity. Lie or sit down to see if the flare will ease. If it’s your first time experiencing the issues, you can self-administer ice or heat therapy to the affected area to subside the feeling. Consider seeing a medical professional for medical assistance if the issue is recurrent and more intense.
Does inflammation cause flare-ups?
Inflammation can cause pain flare-ups. Inflammation is typically the body defending itself against an irritant by sending cells to protect the affected part. The increased activity resulting from the inflammation often leads to flare-ups.
How long do inflammation flare-ups last?
Inflammation flare-ups can last between a few hours to a couple of days or weeks. The flare-ups often feel stiff and painful. Treating the inflammation can lessen the flare-ups occurrence.
Symptoms of back pain flare-ups?
Pain in the lower back and the rib cage is one symptom of back pain flare-ups. Tingling sensations in the back and limbs and having difficulties with activities of daily living are other symptoms caused by flare-ups. Other signs include back stiffness, fatigue, and emotional distress.
How long do back flare-ups last?
Back flare-ups can persist for hours or days. Serious flare-ups can last for several weeks but not months.
Lower back flare-up symptoms?
Lower back flare-ups have many symptoms, including intense pain in the lower back, hips, or legs and prickly sensations in the back and limbs. The flare-ups can also cause numbness, fever, and problems with urination and bowels.
How often do flare-ups occur?
Flare-ups occur more often, especially among individuals with recurrent or existing back pain issues.
Causes of back pain flare-ups
Overexertion amid back pain issues can cause back pain flare-ups, and so can anxiety, stress, and depression. Changes in medication, hormone levels, and weather conditions are other causes of back pain flare-ups. Inflammation and diseases affecting organs near the spine, such as kidney stones and kidney disease, can cause back pain flare-ups as well.