Here’s how you can tell the difference between low back pain caused by muscle and or a disc.

My name is Dr. David Geier – orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist, and anti-aging and regenerative medicine expert. I help you feel, look and perform your best, regardless of age or injury.

Back pain is a common condition, and it’s usually not serious. In fact, most people recover within a few weeks or months with simple self-care steps. But you should see your doctor if your back pain doesn’t get better after taking these steps, or if it gets worse over time.

First of all, what are muscle and disc injuries of the lower back?

A muscle strain is caused when there is an injury to a muscle or tendon due to overuse or misuse.

A disc herniation occurs when one vertebra moves forward and puts pressure on another vertebrae in its way. This can cause inflammation around nerves that lead into the legs, resulting in sharp pain throughout those areas.

Location of the pain

Pain from a muscle strain is usually felt in the lower back, often in a somewhat diffuse pattern all around and across the back. But it usually stays in the back and doesn’t go down one leg.

On the other hand, disc issues often don’t cause much pain in the lower back but instead send pain down one leg.

Your problem started suddenly, with no warning signs.

If you have a sudden onset of back pain, or you don’t remember a specific injury, it could be a sign of a disc condition. This is especially true if you have no history of back problems and the pain is severe. You may have disc herniation or spinal stenosis, both conditions that require medical treatment.

You have numbness, tingling, or weakness in one leg.

Numbness, tingling, or weakness in one leg is often a sign of nerve compression. If you have these symptoms it’s important that you see a doctor right away.

As long as your symptoms are not severe, and the symptoms seem to suggest a muscle strain, self-care can help relieve muscle soreness after exercise and improve flexibility over time so that you don’t develop chronic pain. Working with a physical therapist can be helpful to recover from a lumbar muscle strain more quickly than rest alone.

If you’re unsure of the cause of your back pain, seek medical advice from an orthopedic surgeon or spine specialist. The treatment for each type of problem is different, so it’s important to know what’s causing your symptoms.

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This post is meant for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.