Lower back pain when walking: When is it serious?
Lower back pain can cause a significant strain on your daily activities. Whether it’s walking the dog, playing with your kids or sitting at your desk for hours, even the most routine tasks can become difficult when you are dealing with chronic aches and pains in your spine.
For many people, this pain in the lower back can show up or even worsen during walking. If that’s what you’ve been experiencing, you’re not alone. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 4 out of 5 people suffer from back pain. The causes could range from something as minor as muscle fatigue to as drastic as a spine condition. How do you know when your lower back pain during walking is something relatively mild or something you should seek treatment for? We’re here to help you with a couple warning signs to keep in mind.
Warning sign #1: Watch your timeline
There are two terms used for measuring the length of back pain: acute and chronic. Acute back pain is typically pain that lasts less than 12 weeks, either because it heals on its own or is a condition that can be treated quickly. Chronic back pain is any back pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks. Often, people with back pain drift into the chronic phase of symptoms because they ignore their initial symptoms, pushing through with their daily activities and causing their underlying condition to worsen.
So, what’s the right timeline for finding treatment? If you’ve been experiencing lower back pain while you walk for more than two or three weeks, and the symptoms aren’t going away with home therapy, then you should seek treatment. The cause of your back pain may be simple and easy to treat, but if you continue to ignore your symptoms, your root cause could worsen, making it difficult for you to walk or sit or enjoy any other activity.
As physical therapists, one of the things we see most often is people not listening to their body’s cues that something is wrong. We see this typically in parents — this natural inclination to push through pain in order to keep taking care of the family — but “pushing through” for longer than a couple of weeks is going to do your body more damage than good. When it comes to lower back pain, it’s best to seek treatment early. The earlier the treatment, the more likely that physical therapy will get you back to normal rather than back surgery.
Warning sign #2: Watch your symptoms
Typically, when you experience lower back pain while walking, there are often a few other symptoms that may also be creeping into your daily life. It’s important to keep track of your symptoms so you can properly assess how much your lower back pain is affecting your quality of life. Also, tracking your symptoms will help a doctor or physical therapist narrow down the possible causes faster.
Common symptoms that also appear with lower back pain while walking include:
- Back pain while sitting or standing.
- Chronic aches in the lower back.
- Numbness or tingling in the spine or extremities.
- Pain down the buttocks or legs.
- Pain in one hip.
- Stabbing pain during some movement.
One of the most important things to notice when monitoring your symptoms is whether the pain is cutting into your quality of life. If one or more of these symptoms is making you hesitate to do the things you love — or even the chores you don’t love — then it’s time to seek treatment. Life is too short to be plagued with pain. Most back pain can be treated with physical therapy, but back pain that is left untreated for months and years may require surgery. It’s better to seek treatment sooner rather than later to help avoid surgery.
Treatment for lower back pain when walking
At Forever Fit Physical Therapy & Wellness, we offer personalized treatment for patients suffering from lower back pain. You don’t have to be an athlete or even physically fit to do our physical therapy; we work with people of all fitness levels and goals, and help them find movements that they are comfortable with. Our PTs will work with you directly, making sure you are comfortable with each movement and treatment and that you are progressing on schedule. That’s why our patients continue to find relief from our therapy plans.
Patients in Maryland do not need a doctor’s referral for physical therapy. You can schedule an appointment directly with us, and take the next step toward relief from back pain when walking. We’re here to help you take back your life from chronic back pain.