A sudden injury most often causes acute low back pain. The most common injury sources are the muscles and ligaments supporting the back. The pain may be caused by muscle spasms or a strain or tear in the muscles and ligaments. But occasionally, it can have a more sinister cause.
Warning Signs of a More Serious Back Injury?
In these instances of neurological deficit, please urgently consult your nearest hospital, doctor or physiotherapist. The following neurological signs warrant prompt assessment:
pins and needles (paraesthesia),
leg muscle weakness,
loss of control of bladder or bowels.
Non-Musculoskeletal Causes of Low Back Pain
Although most low back pain is musculoskeletal in origin, other health conditions can cause low back pain.
Nerve pain is pain caused by damage or disease that affects the nervous system of the body. It is also known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia. Nerve pain is a pain that comes from problems with signals from the nerves. It is different to the typical type of pain that is due to an injury. It is known as nociceptive pain.
What Causes Nerve Pain?
A problem with your nerves themselves, which sends pain messages to the brain, causes neuropathic pain.
What Are Nerve Pain Symptoms?
Nerve pain is often described as burning, stabbing, shooting, aching, or like an electric shock.
What Causes Nerve Pain?
Various conditions can affect your nerves and cause nerve pain. Familiar sources of nerve pain include:
Shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia).
Phantom limb pain (post-amputation).
Other nerve disorders.
Nerve Pain & Nociceptive Pain
You can suffer both nerve pain and nociceptive pain simultaneously. The same condition can cause both pain types.
Nerve Pain Treatment
Nerve pain is less likely than nociceptive pain to be helped by traditional painkillers. Paracetamol and anti-inflammatories seem less effective. However, other types of medicines often work well to ease the pain. Nerve pain is often relieved by anti-depressant or anti-epileptic medication. Please ask your doctor for more advice.
What is Pain?
Pain is the built-in alarm that informs you something is wrong!
Pain is your body's way of sending a warning to your brain. Your spinal cord and nerves provide the pathway for messages to travel to and from your brain and the other parts of your body. Pain travels along these nerve pathways as electrical signals to your brain for interpretation.
Receptor nerve cells in and beneath your skin sense heat, cold, light, touch, pressure, and pain. You have thousands of these receptor cells. Most cells sense pain. When there is an injury to your body, these tiny cells send messages along nerves into your spinal cord and then up to your brain.
In general, pain receptors are classified according to their location.
Receptors that respond to injury or noxious stimuli are termed nociceptors and are sensitive to thermal (heat), electrical, mechanical, chemical and painful stimuli. Each nociceptor is connected to a nerve that transmits an electrical impulse along its length towards the spinal cord and then, ultimately, your brain.
It is your brain that informs you whether or not you are experiencing pain. Plus, your pain can plays tricks - especially when you suffer chronic pain.
Pain messages travel slower than other nerve stimulation.
Nerves can also be categorised according to their diameter (width) and whether a myelin sheath is present.
Three types of nerves are concerned with the transmission of pain:
A-beta fibres, which have a large diameter and are myelinated
A-delta fibres, which has a small diameter and also have myelinated sheaths.
C fibres have small diameters, are non-myelinated (slowing their conduction rate), and are generally involved in the transmission of dull, aching sensations.
Nerves with large diameters conduct impulses faster than those with a small diameter. The presence of a myelin sheath also speeds up the nerve conduction rate.
One method of easing your pain is to provide your nervous system with high speed "good feelings", such as rubbing your injured area. This is the same principle that a tens machine (pain-relieving machine) utilises to provide pain relief.
A moderately pinched nerve is the most common cause of "pins and needles". Pins and needles are referred to as "paraesthesia" in the medical community. Did you know that feeling "pins and needles" can be a worse sign than having pain in your arm or leg? The reason is that you can't even feel pain anymore when you significantly squash the nerve.
Even worse than "pins and needles" is "numbness" or "anaesthesia", which is a total lack of sensation. You will experience anaesthesia when there is severe nerve compression. Anaesthesia or numbness that persists for more than a few hours can signify permanent nerve compression. Would you please seek prompt medical attention to prevent the nerve from permanent damage and the muscles it innervates to weaken drastically?
The majority of pinched nerves and nerve compressions are only transient and quickly reversed with early treatment. However, neglect can lead to permanent nerve compression injuries, which may never recover.
Common Causes of Pinched Nerves
The most common forms of nerve compression are in the spinal joints, where either a disc bulge or a bony arthritic spur can irritate and compress the nerve. Compressions can also occur as the nerve passes through or around muscles. Your physiotherapist will know where to look.
How Can You Fix "Pins and Needles"?
If you know of someone who is experiencing chronic or permanent "pins and needles", "numbness", or "muscle weakness", please encourage them to seek urgent professional advice. The secret to quick success is the correct diagnosis. A highly trained health practitioner such as your physiotherapist or doctor is your best port of call.