Back pain can take many forms. Sometimes your lower back muscles feel tight and stiff. Other times you experience a sharp pain when standing up. Often, back pain takes the form of a burning sensation in your lower back. In this article, we'll offer some explanations for why that burning sensation occurs. We'll discuss back pain that occurs when you're sitting as well as back pain that occurs when you're standing, and we'll suggest some treatment options that may provide pain relief.
What's causing your burning lower back pain?
Some burning sensations feel warm and tender to the touch. Others feel like pins and needles, almost as if your back is falling asleep. In either case, this pain can stem from a variety of conditions. Here are just a few of them:
- Sciatica ” Sciatica occurs when a muscle pinches your sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back down your leg. Over time, this can cause a burning sensation that radiates all the way down to your feet.
- Herniated disc ” Your spinal discs cushion each vertebra in your spine. When a disc herniates, or bulges out of place, it can cause pain, numbness or burning in your lower back.
- Cervical arthritis ” Cervical arthritis, also known as spondylolisthesis, occurs when a herniated spinal disc pushes against another spinal disc. This can cause stiffness and burning in the lower back and upper leg.
- Degenerative disc disease ” Degenerative disc disease causes the intervertebral discs to break down over time, leaving less cushion to absorb pressure. This can make daily activities like walking, running or even lying down painful.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) ” Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that damages the nerve fibers that run down the spine. Over time, this camage can lead to stiffness, tingling, numbness, and chronic pain throughout the back and other body parts.
If you are unsure what's causing the warm feeling in your lower back, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with a doctor or physical therapist in your area. They will evaluate your symptoms and determine a course of action for treating the problem.
Burning lower back pain when sitting
Some people only experience a warm sensation in their back when sitting. This may stem from sciatica, a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. Sitting places added pressure on the spine and the nerves that surround it, so sitting often amplifies any conditions causing back pain. You might also experience burning when you sit due to a strain on your lumbar muscles, which are the muscles that allow you to move your abdomen in every direction. You might stretch or tear these muscles when lifting heavy objects or performing physical activity. That stretching or tearing can cause a burning sensation, especially when you sit.
Why do back injuries get hot, anyway?
When you hurt your lower back (or any other part of your body), your body sends an increase of blood flow to the affected area. This increased blood flow brings more white blood cells to the injury, which fight against infection and promote healing. This is known as inflammation. Inflammation also increases your body temperature, particularly around the affected area, to help fight infection. As a result, you may experience a burning sensation in your lower back if it's injured or inflamed.
How to treat a burning lower back
There are several methods used to treat lower back pain. Here are a few common ones:
- Rest ” Lying down and avoiding physical activity will prevent you from reinjuring your back or making it worse. It will also give your back time to heal from any muscle strain that's causing your back to feel sore and warm.
- Alternating heat and ice ” Ice restricts blood flow to an injury, while heat increases blood flow. Applying ice for 20 minutes before heat can increase the amount of blood flow even further, helping to promote healing.
- Staying hydrated ” Water helps to limit inflammation in the muscles, which can reduce pain. It also helps to flush toxins out of the body that can lead to further damage in your spinal discs or blood vessels.
- Physical therapy ” A physical therapist will assess your condition to determine the cause of your back pain and recommend a course of treatment that can help you manage it. They can also perform specialty treatments like dry needling and myofascial release.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for lower back pain
At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we're proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that's close to you and that can help you address lower back pain. Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.