• Taruna Rijhwani

5 Signs that tell you may have a Back Problem!

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

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As crazy as it sounds, lower back issues are becoming increasingly common by the day and the signs could be very subtle. We can easily ignore these signs & go by our daily lives until eventually we have a terrible episode of either low back pain or leg symptoms where our day to day activities are significantly compromised.


Now my point here is not to scare you but if we are more aware of these early warning signs, we can be more proactive in managing our spine issues & are not stuck with the injections or surgical options left when things are too far gone.

In other words, being wary of early “not so obvious” signs can put us in a better position to take early steps and take care of our spine & mobility in a better way. It is always easier to treat a condition while it is in early stages than in later but unfortunately in real life, we tend to do exactly the opposite. We tend to take active steps to help our issues after days, months or sometimes even years hoping that things will magically improve with time. But that never happens, does it?


So as promised, here are the five signs that should grab your attention & may hint towards an underlying back problem:


1.Early Morning Stiffness in the Back


Early morning stiffness in the back or sometimes in the leg is the most common warning sign for an underlying back problem. There are several factors that contribute to this morning stiffness but the biggest factor being your intervertebral disks tend to absorb fluid at night when we sleep in an unloaded position.


Due to this increased fluid in your disks now, your back tends to feel stiff in the morning that gradually settles as we walk around a little bit. But this feeling is even more prevalent when we do not have a healthy back. Stiffness typically precedes pain & if your joints are starting to feel stiffer in the mornings than usual, do not merely blame it on aging, there is a good chance that your joints need to move & are asking for your attention.


I have written a separate blog post post just on this topic which you can read here but do that later & finish reading this one first!


2.Limited tolerance to Sitting


Most people start to notice stiffness or discomfort in their back after sitting for a few hours & especially when they first get out of sitting position. Again, this is a sign that is easy to ignore but many times could be a precursor to an impending episode of low back pain & sciatica.


This is also your body’s way of telling you to take breaks & start moving as stiffness is starting to creep in. It is usually after a few months of stiffness that pain develops & it is hard to pinpoint later as to what caused the pain in the first place wherein the stiffness was there all along!


3. Decreased ability to Walk or Run


Lot of people notice a gradual decline in their ability to walk, especially on uneven surfaces or uphill/downhill roads and in some cases decreased ability to run either due to pain in the back/hip/leg or weakness after running a certain distance. It is very easy to blame these issues on improper footwear or aging but sometimes the cause is hidden in your spine.


Your spine issues could easily be contributing to these signs as these are both loaded/weight bearing activities that tend to stress your spinal joints & a thorough mechanical exam is in order to determine the underlying cause. Just taking breaks from walking or Running & hoping that that time will solve the issue will never happen & you will find yourself losing the strength & endurance you once had eventually!


4.Less tolerance to Standing


Another common scenario is a gradually declining standing tolerance with either pain or stiffness creeping in the legs after standing a certain amount of time. Again, the nerves in your legs originate at your spine so it only makes sense to look at the spine first for the source of your issues than treating just the symptoms.


Resorting to braces or ace bandages around your legs may give you temporary relief from your discomfort but it will never resolve the underlying cause as it was never addressed!


5. Decreased ability to go up & down the Stairs


Some people gradually lose the ability to bear weight on one leg versus the other either due to pain/discomfort or lack of strength thereby making it difficult to go up & down the stairs in a normal fashion i.e. reciprocally. For many people, it is hard to understand what is causing this issue and it is easy to assume that the problem is in the knees.


But like I have mentioned before, a thorough mechanical exam is in order as spinal issues can easily & in fact be one of the most common contributors of these types of problems. A recent study (Exposs Study) that is in the works to be published in the next few months has conclusively demonstrated that spine pain can be referred to the extremities i.e. legs very commonly & hence assessment of the spine is key before considering hips/knees/ankle as the source of the problem. Missing out on finding the source of issues leads to unnecessary consumption of pain pills, increased use of MRI’s & in some cases even surgeries. Not to mention, the increased amount of time & effort by the person who is suffering from these problems.


So here you go, these are the top 5 signs that should alert you towards a plausible spinal or back issue & require your attention.


If you or someone you know is struggling with these signs, a thorough mechanical assessment by a qualified Back Pain Specialist (Mckenzie Method Provider) is in order to help you understand what is causing your issues & help you avoid reliance on pain pills, injections or surgeries in the future & without compromising the active lifestyle you love to & need to live!


Want to learn more?

If you or someone you know has limited mobility due to pain or needs some help to get back to activity, request a Free Discovery Session by filling out a short form here. Those are limited spots each month & by appointment only.


We also know not everyone is ready to commit to regular physical therapy appointments, and that’s why we offer our Free Information Guide! This Guide is for people in our community who want really valuable, expert information about their Back Pain or Sciatica problems. We know it’s confusing out there with all of the information floating around on Google and Facebook, and this is a valuable first step towards getting some real answers for your problem.


PS – If you found this information helpful, please share this with a friend or on your Facebook feed.

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Health Watchers Physical Therapy & Wellness

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