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What Causes Burning Back Pain?

The sensation of burning back pain can be very annoying and turn debilitating if you do not address it in time. It may occur as a result of the underlying condition of the nerves, muscles, and skin. Visit Redefine Healthcare if you are experiencing burning back pain but cannot pinpoint its causes. Dr. Eric Freeman is a pain and rehabilitation specialist and has been treating patients with a variety of pain conditions, including back and spine disorders. He comes up with the best treatments and therapies to ease your burning back pain while figuring out the causes behind this discomfort to help you live a better quality of life.

A burning sensation in the back is a common complaint. It occurs as a mild discomfort that eases with time without requiring medical attention. However, recurring pain or pain that does not get better may indicate a more severe or underlying condition that needs proper care.

A burning sensation is any feeling of discomfort experienced in the back, leading to pain and warmth in the affected area. Research shows that about 80% of the population experiences back pain at least once in their lifetime.

There are many reasons why burning back pain develops. The nature or severity of the pain can help the doctor diagnose its causes accurately.

Causes of Burning Back Pain

Back pain symptoms vary from patient to patient but having a back pain burning sensation may be a sign of several nerve and muscle conditions. Sometimes, even tight muscles can warm up and display a reddish appearance of the skin.

What Causes Burning Back Pain

Some common causes of burning back pain include:

Spinal Problems

Our spines are complex structures, composed of several vertebrae discs that sit in between vertebral bones. These discs can get damaged due to degeneration or injury. When one of these discs bulges out from its normal position, it is called a herniated disc. Herniation of the disc can cause excessive pressure on the spinal cord and nerve and result in severe back pain or burning sensation.

The lower back, also called the lumbar region, is more vulnerable to degeneration, injuries, and other disorders. It is because this area is heavily stressed during the day and highly involved during activities, such as lifting weights and sports.

Skeletal Defects

The shape of the spine has a significant effect on your posture. If there are skeletal or bony deformities, it can lead to changes or abnormalities in the spine and eventually back pain. Conditions such as scoliosis, kyphosis, or lordosis can change spinal musculature and even compress spinal nerves, resulting in burning back pain.

Muscle Spasms and Strains

Overstretching, tearing, and injuries to the muscles in the back can result in sudden spasms and strains that may be described as burning pain. Muscles sustain injuries or tears when they are under too much pressure. Carrying heavy loads, improper exercise techniques, and sudden movements can strain the muscles beyond their normal range.

Repeated strain or injury to the back can weaken its muscles and make it more vulnerable to spasms.
In some cases, poor posture and obesity can also contribute to sprains and strains.

Injuries or Tumor

Severe burning back pain may be an outcome of direct injuries to the soft tissue supporting the spine. There are times when an injury does not cause any symptoms straightway but manifests itself after a few weeks or months. Continued stress on injured spinal column structures, such as spinal discs or nerves, can lead to burning back pain.

Tumors can also cause spinal pain that you may experience as a burning sensation.

Back Muscle Pain

Muscular pain often occurs in a specific region of the back and is perceived as the increased temperature in the affected muscles. Chances are that a buildup of toxic chemicals in the back muscles or an inflammatory process is causing this burning sensation.

Sometimes, routine activities such as sitting and standing for hours in the same position can overwork the muscles in the back and constrict the muscles, causing discomfort.

Lack of Oxygen

Lack of blood supply can affect the delivery of oxygen to the tissues. When the blood supply is restricted or cut off completely, it can lead to tissue damage and even death. Damage to the muscles is often experienced as heat, tingling, weakness, and numbness.

Chemical Radiculitis

It is an inflammatory condition of the nerve root caused by the rupture of the exterior of the intervertebral disc and the spread of the disc fluids along the nerve root sheath. This condition occurs as a reaction to repeated injury of the spinal column. People who lift heavy loads for a living or are heavyweight lifters experience this problem.

Symptoms of Burning Back Pain

Back-burning sensation symptoms experienced by patients vary, depending on the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms associated with burning back pain include:

  • Reddish inflammation
  • Numbness
  • Pain under the skin
  • Muscle ache and weakness
  • Tenderness
  • Fever
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Prickling sensation on the skin
  • Rashes or redness on the skin

How to Prevent Burning Back Pain?

Sharp, burning pain in the back can be distressing, but it can be prevented to an extent.

Tips on preventing back pain include:

  • Exercising regularly to keep the back muscles in shape
  • Avoiding potential back-hurting activities
  • Maintaining good posture

Call your doctor if you cannot determine the cause of your back pain, as some underlying medical issue may be the reason behind it.

How to Treat Burning Back Pain

Exercise is the best way to treat and prevent the development of back pain. It helps to:

  • Improve posture
  • Reduce stiffness by keeping connective fibers or ligaments and tendons flexible
  • Strengthen the back and improve flexibility
  • Lose or maintain weight
  • Maintain stability to avoid falls

Exercise increases the blood flow and nutrients to the soft tissues in the back, improving the healing process and reducing the stiffness that can result in back pain or burning sensation in the back muscles.

Tips for Lifting and Bending

  • Ask someone to help you if you are trying to lift an object that is too heavy or awkward to hold
  • Give yourself a wide base of support by spreading the feet apart when lifting or bending
  • Standing as close as possible to the object when lifting it to prevent back injury
  • Bend from the knees and not at the waist for better posture
  • Tighten your stomach muscles when lifting or lowering an object to ensure stability
  • Hold the object as close to your body as you can for better support
  • Lift using your leg muscles and not the back
  • As you stand up with an object, do not bend forward
  • Avoid twisting when bending for the object, lifting it up, or carrying it

Some Other Tips to Prevent Burning Back Pain

  • Avoid standing for very long. If you need to stand for long hours during work, take breaks to sit or lean to take the stress off the back from standing.
  • Do not wear high heels too much. Wear comfortable shoes with adequate support for spine health.
  • When sitting for a long time, choose a chair with a straight back that has an adjustable seat and back, armrests, and a swivel seat.
  • Put a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back when sitting or driving to provide lumbar support, especially for long drives.
  • Take short breaks from whatever you are doing to walk every hour or so. It will help to ease the tensed muscles.
  • Quick smoking.
  • Lose weight, as too much body weight, puts pressure on the spine.
  • Strengthen your abdominal muscles and core with exercises and stretches that stabilize your body.

Diagnosing and Treating Burning Back Pain

Timely diagnosis and treatment of burning back pain are essential for complete relief and to prevent further complications. If your pain is the outcome of bad posture, muscle strain or spasms, or physical stress, at-home remedies and self-care can help you find relief.

You can alleviate and manage the pain at home by doing the following:

  • Stop and avoid activities that seem to be causing your burning back pain for a few days.
  • Apply heat or ice to the affected area. Cold can ease the pain and reduce inflammation, while heat relaxes the muscles and increases the flow of blood to the affected area to promote healing.
  • Take over-the-counter pain-relieving medications to ease your discomfort.
  • Try to sleep in a fetal position, curled up on your side. Place a pillow between or underneath your knees to relieve pressure from the spine.

If your back pain does not ease with these self-care remedies, it is a sign of something more critical and needs medical attention. The doctor will perform a physical examination and fully evaluate your spine. He will check for signs of injury or trauma and may also run some tests, including blood work, x-ray, and MRI to determine the actual reason behind painful burning sensations in the back.

Treatment for chronic back conditions or injuries may include:

  • Strong, prescription pain-relieving medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Topical creams
  • Surgery

Do not spend all your time in bed, resting unless you cannot move or have other incapacitating symptoms. Staying active with limited best rest and restricted activities can lead to a quick recovery.

Back pain is a common issue, but recurring or severe burning pack pain may indicate a serious medical condition, injury, or nerve problem. Do not ignore sharp, burning pain in the back, especially if it is accompanied by high fever or weakness in the legs. If this pain is keeping you from work and routine activities, consult Dr. Eric Freeman for safe and effective pain relief. The specialist evaluates your symptoms, determines the actual causes behind your burning back pain and recommends the best treatment and preventive measures to avoid future complications. You can look forward to comprehensive, highest-quality care with expert help.

Page Updated on Dec 15, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare


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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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