You wake up and your back is stiff.  You get up from work after a long day and your back is stiff.  These are common signs and complaints of people who commonly suffer with low back pain. If you have ever had stiffness or soreness in your low back, do not ignore the warning signs! Read on to see how you can avoid costly injections, medications and problems that arise from a "stiff" back.

1.  You can remember the last time you have had low back stiffness or soreness.

There are some cases of low back stiffness that are bound to happen. For example, when you travel and sleep in a new bed or drive for 12 hours straight, there is going to be some soreness in your back. These are isolated incidents.  You may experience these once a year, not remembering the prior incident of stiffness or soreness.

But, if you remember the last time you felt stiff — whether it was yesterday when you were in a long meeting or last week when you woke up — that is not normal and it is often the sign of a bigger problem.

You should not experience stiffness every day or even once a week and definitely not once a month.  The increase in frequency of back pain is a big sign of a problem going on.  And while most people do not remember how it got to the point of daily pain, there was almost always an evolution of worse pain over time.

The longer you ignore the pain, the more time and money it will cost you down the road.

2.  You have had numbness or tingling down your leg, with any episode, ever.

Numbness and tingling is never to be ignored.

Unless you fell asleep in a weird position and could shake your leg to make the pain go away quickly, then that is not normal and is a sign of a larger problem.

This usually indicates nerve involvement, which can affect the way muscles function and lead to loss of ability to do things like walk normally.

3.  You are taking OTC pain medication on a regular basis or for more than 2 weeks at a time.

"Nothing Advil can't fix."  Man, if I had a nickel for every time I have heard that.  Advil/Aleve are great for that once-every-few-years inflammation that crops up or alleviating pain after you sprained an ankle or had a fall.  But taking these pain relievers for more than two weeks straight can cause worse problems to happen like over compensating. Here, your body starts to protect itself, but in doing so, it causes more problems.  And while the Advil or Aleve might 'take the edge off' it certainly is not solving anything.

Back pain that requires regular medication is back pain that needs to be dealt with on a larger scale.

Now this article was just a brief overview of when to be concerned.  Knowing the cause of your back pain is essential in treating it.  If you click here, you will be able to sign up for a few short videos that delve into the causes and treatments of back pain more deeply.

The video below shows you what you can do if you wake up with back stiffness, but remember that it is not a long-term fix.