Stabbing lower back pain after lifting weights


Q: I have persistant stabbing pain in my lower back after lifting at work yesterday. I cannot sit or stand straight. I had spinal fusion surgery due to scoliosis 15 years ago, could this be related or just muscle pain?


A:    With your previous history of spine surgery (Harrington’s rods) you should be very careful when lifting heavy objects. Most likely after the lifting effort that you described, you are experiencing a Mechanical low back pain (LBP), which is the second most common reason for seeing a physician in the United States. Of the US population, 85% will experience an episode of mechanical LBP at some point during their lifetime. Fortunately, the LBP resolves for the vast majority within 2-4 weeks. Sometimes it may complicate with a sciatic nerve inflammation, in that case it will take longer to get better. The suggested strategy would be: a physical therapy program aimed to: if you are overweight, then keep your weight under control, because the overweight suppose additional stress to the lumbar spine, control the pain and the local inflammatory process, relative rest, flexion and extension exercises of the spine to reduce the nerve and muscle tension, exercises that improve the muscular strength and endurance of lumbar muscles. You can keep taking anti-inflammatory medication (“Motrin”, “Aleve”) and you can follow these general recommendations: sleeping with a pillow between the knees while lying on one side may increase comfort, lying on your back with a pillow under your knees. If the pain persists for more than 2 months, it is strongly recommended that you get an evaluation by a physician.

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