Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions that causes someone to see their doctor. In fact, about 23% of the world’s adults suffer from chronic low back pain. Many people may think that this pain is inevitable. As a result, they may avoid seeking help. But if your lower back pain worsens when you walk, your daily life can be severely restricted. Standing and walking from place to place can be a challenge. You may not even be fully present in moments while connecting with your colleagues, playing with your grandchildren or even walking to the kitchen.
As a result, it’s important to understand the root cause of your lower back pain and when to be seriously concerned. In addition, it is always a good idea to bring your questions and concerns to a trusted medical professional so that they can provide well-rounded advice.
Why are you feeling lower back pain when walking?
The location and circumstance of your lower back pain can give you clues as to what’s causing it. If you specifically feel lower back pain when standing or walking, you may be experiencing symptoms of a few conditions:
- Muscle strain — When you overuse or overstretch your back over time, you can experience lower back pain when standing or walking. Poor posture, poor sleeping habits and repetitive movements can lead you to strain a tendon or muscle in your back. You can also overstretch your back muscles if you twist or bend suddenly. Hot and cold therapies can help encourage your torn muscle to heal.
- Muscle fatigue — Muscle fatigue can happen after intense exercise or after days of continuous overuse. A hallmark of muscle fatigue is weak, tired muscles. If you have a severe case of muscle fatigue, your lower back may hurt while walking. This is because your back has to work extra hard to hold up your body weight. Rest and gentle exercises can help increase circulation to your tight and weakened muscles.
- Spinal joint sprain — A joint sprain can occur when the ligaments surrounding a portion of joints between two vertebrae becomes irritated. This irritation can cause pain with movement and temporarily decrease the tolerance of the joint to loaded, upright activity such as prolonged standing or walking. Physical therapy techniques such as joint mobilization and functional exercises applied in the appropriate dosage will gradually restore the joint’s capacity for these activities.
- Sciatica — Sciatica refers to when a back injury like a bulging disc places pressure on your sciatic nerve and causes it to inflame. A pinched sciatic nerve can lead to tingling and numbness that radiates from your lower back down your leg. It often worsens with walking or standing. Physical therapy techniques like dry needling can help ease your sciatic pain.
When is lower back pain when walking a sign of something serious?
Pain in your lower back when walking can serve as a reminder to rest and perform gentle exercises. Sometimes, however, lower back pain can be a sign of more serious back conditions, including:
- Degenerative disc disease — Degenerative disc disease refers to when your spinal discs deteriorate over time. Your spinal discs serve as cushioning between your vertebrae, so when they break down, your vertebrae can scrape against each other. As a result, intense pain can occur during activities like walking. Your doctor can diagnose you with this condition through imaging tests like MRIs and X-rays.
- Spinal stenosis — Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition in which your spine narrows, placing extra pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. Spinal stenosis often occurs in the lower back and can cause intense pain when walking or standing. The condition is most common in people over the age of 50. It can also be diagnosed via imaging tests like MRI and CAT scan.
Older patients are at a greater risk to be hospitalized for lower back pain. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention for your lower back that worsens with walking:
- Tingling that travels to your feet.
- Constant and severe pain.
- Pain that only worsens at night.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Pain as a result of trauma such as a car accident.
Forever Fit can help you take control of your lower back pain when walking
Lower back pain can limit your activity levels, especially if it becomes difficult to walk normally. If you are experiencing lower back pain every time you stand or walk, you should schedule an appointment with a local physical therapist. Physical therapists are trained to find exercises and stretches that can ease the pain that’s holding you back.
Studies show that exercises that strengthen core or abdominal muscles may help to speed recovery from chronic low back pain. At Forever Fit Physical Therapy, we will develop a personalized treatment plan to determine the cause of your lower back pain and whether it is serious. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.