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It’s usually fairly obvious you’ve injured your back if you feel sudden pain when you lift something incorrectly or stretch your backbone’s supporting muscles beyond their normal range of motion. But it’s also possible for spine-related injuries to be more stealthy in nature—meaning you may not immediately realize you’ve injured your back. Here’s a closer look at some of the signs and symptoms that suggest it’s time to see your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon to see what’s going on with your back.

Pain that Worsens with Movement

A back injury is sometimes difficult to detect because the discomfort isn’t constantly felt. For instance, you might only feel pain when walking or when standing or sitting certain ways, or you could have noticeable pain associated with certain forceful actions like coughing or laughing.

Stiffness and/or Limited Range of Motion

Some spine-related injuries trigger inflammation, or tissue swelling, which could produce stiffness around the affected area. If your neck is affected, you may notice a reduced range of motion that prevents you from fully turning your head.

Posture Difficulties

A back injury can make it difficult or too painful to stand up straight. Being unable to stand up the correct way may also throw off your spine’s alignment and contribute to additional injuries.

Changes with How You Walk

If your lower back is affected, you may involuntarily change the way you walk if certain movements trigger pain. What this does is place extra stress on certain parts of your lower back, which could contribute to new injuries and more pain.

Other Signs and Symptoms

Some back injuries contribute to difficulty with urination because of the way nerves are compressed. You may also notice:

• Swelling or tenderness in the affected area
• Pain that goes away or lessens when lying down or reclining
• Discomfort that extends to nearby areas like your shoulders, arms, hips, thighs, or legs

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you’re noticing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, odds are good you have some type of back injury. The next step to take is to find out what’s going on and what you can do about it. This process usually involves a physical exam, a discussion of your symptoms, a review of your medical history, and X-rays, CT scans, and other image tests.

Once a diagnosis has been made, a personalized treatment plan can be recommended. Barring potentially life-threatening issues, you’ll likely be advised to start with conservative (non-surgical) treatments. Common recommendations include:

• Rest for a limited time
• Application of heat and ice to the affected area
• Activity modification
• Medication
• Physical therapy
• Postural exercises
• Therapeutic stretches

Realizing you may have injured your back can provide an added incentive to seek early treatment. The sooner you take this step, the more likely you’ll respond well to conservative care efforts. However, if surgery does become your best bet for relief, take comfort in knowing many procedures performed today are safer since less invasive techniques are used. From spinal fusion to Coflex back surgery, Los Angeles patients can place their trust in Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of experts spine surgeons. To schedule an appointment, call The Spine Institute today at 310-828-7757.