Muscles are the most common cause of back pain. But sometimes back pain can be caused by a herniated disc, also called a slipped disc or a ruptured disc.
A herniated disc can press on a nerve and cause pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg. The pain from a herniated disc is often worse when you bend your spine, twist your spine, or sit for long periods of time.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the difference between back pain caused by a muscle and back pain caused by a herniated disc. We’ll also provide tips on how to relieve back pain at home.
Common Causes Of Back Pain
If you have back pain, the first step is to figure out what’s causing it. Here are some common causes:
- Muscle strain: This is the most common cause of back pain. It can happen from lifting something heavy, twisting your back in an awkward position, or overstretching.
- Bulging or ruptured disc: A disc is a gel-like cushion between the bones in your spine. Sometimes, a disc can bulge out or rupture. This can put pressure on the nerves around it and cause pain.
- Arthritis: This is wear-and-tear on the joints in your spine. It can happen as you get older and the cartilage starts to break down.
- Osteoporosis: This is a condition where your bones start to get thinner and weaker. It’s more common in women, especially after menopause.
- Sciatica: This is pain that starts in your lower back and radiates down your leg. It’s usually caused by a herniated disc or bone spur pressing on the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal stenosis: This is a narrowing of the spinal canal. It can happen from arthritis or a bulging disc. It can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain.
- Scoliosis: This is a sideways curvature of the spine. It’s usually genetic and most common in girls.
These are just some of the more common causes of back pain. There are many other less common causes as well. If your back pain is severe or lasts longer than a few days, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
How To Tell If Back Pain Is Muscle Or Disc?
There are a few things you can look for to see if your back pain is coming from a muscle or disc issue. Here are some common signs:
- Muscle pain is usually dull and achy. It can be aggravated by activity or movement.
- Disc pain is usually sharp and shooting. It can radiate down your arm or leg.
- Muscle pain is usually worse when you press on it.
- Disc pain is usually worse when you bend your spine, twist your spine, or sit for long periods of time.
- Muscle pain usually gets better with rest and ice.
- Disc pain often doesn’t get better with rest or ice.
- Muscle pain is usually helped by over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Disc pain is often not helped by over-the-counter pain relievers.
If you’re still not sure what’s causing your back pain, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. They can do a physical exam and order tests to help figure out the cause.
How To Relieve Back Pain At Home?
There are a few things you can do at home to ease back pain. Here are some tips:
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Place a heating pad on your back for 15 minutes at a time.
- Avoid high heels, flip flops, or any shoes that don’t support your feet well.
- Sit up straight with your feet on the floor.
- Use a lumbar support pillow if you sit for long periods of time.
- Stand up and move around every 30 minutes if you sit for long periods of time.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you must lift something heavy, use your legs, not your back.
- Exercise regularly. This can help strengthen the muscles in your back and prevent pain.
By following these tips, you can ease your back pain and get on with your life. If your pain is severe or lasts more than a few days, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. They can help you figure out the cause of your pain and give you more specific treatment options.
Going to the doctor should always be your first step when you’re experiencing back pain. They will be able to give you a clear diagnosis and work with you to develop a treatment plan. However, it’s always helpful to have an understanding of the difference between muscle and disc problems so that you can better advocate for yourself.
With a little research, you can arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to identify which type of back pain you’re experiencing. From there, you and your doctor can work together to find the best way to relieve your pain and get you back on the road to recovery!
I am John Crosby, the founder and author of back backpaincareguides.com. I have been dealing with chronic back pain for almost eight years and have made it my mission to help people who are also suffering from this debilitating condition through my blog. I want to share my knowledge and experience about this condition so that others can find relief from their back pain. I believe that by being open and honest about my struggles, I can inspire others to live better and more fulfilling life.