Low back pain which is also called Lumbar, lumbosacral, or sacroiliac pain is. However, distressing is most commonly caused by minor strain or injury, and 90% of sufferers will recover within a month.
What is a low back pain?
Low back pain is an aching discomfort that occurs in the lumbar portion of the spine. It is one of the most common health problems and is the reason most often given for taking time off work.
Low back pain may be the result of excessive strain on the lower back due to a poor posture, being overweight, or having to do a lot of carrying or lifting of heavy loads. For a few people, persistent back pain may be due to arthritis.
What causes low back pain?
Back pain is usually caused by a mechanical disorder of one of the structures in or around the spine. The pain may be the result of damage to a ligament or muscle, or to one of the joints between adjacent vertebrae (bones of the spine).
Occasionally the pain is due to a disc prolapse, a condition in which the spongy material between the vertebrae, bulges through its surrounding ligament and presses on adjacent spinal nerves. This nerve pressure causes pain in the back and also pain running down the back of the legs (sciatica).
Ankylosing spondylitis (a disease of the joints) and, rarely, a tumor in the spinal column. It may also be caused by abdominal problems such as peptic ulcer, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), or an aortic aneurysm (localized widening of the aorta).
In most cases, back pain goes away within a few days. It often improves before the doctor has
Arranged any tests, so the exact cause may not be confirmed. If the pain persists or keeps coming back, tests will be done to establish a diagnosis.
- Pain that radiates from the back into a leg (sciatica).
- Numbness or tingling sensations which occur in one or both legs.
- Weakness in a leg. Loss of control over bladder or bowel.
- Muscle spasm.
How is low back pain diagnosed and treated?
Most episodes of low back pain can be resolved by resting for a few days. If the problem is persistent, the doctor will usually make the diagnosis by a physical examination. This includes testing neurological (nervous system) responses and muscle function.
Other diagnostic studies may include an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan (using magnetic fields and radio waves to create a computer-generated image) or a CT (computed tomography) scan (an X-ray procedure using a computer to give cross-sectional images).
Treatment usually includes bed rest for at least a few days. Painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help relieve muscle spasm. Manipulation of the back by a doctor, physiotherapist or osteopath can be very useful, contribute to reducing the pain and spasms in some cases.
Anyone with severe back pain caused by an injury or fall, or who is unable to move, should be taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. Do not move the injured person like this should only be done by trained staff.
How can I avoid low back pain?
Maintain your ideal weight.
Practice back and abdominal exercises.
Wear flat or little shoes.
Sleep on a firm mattress.
When lifting, squat down in a knee-bend, pick up the object and hold it close. Keep your back upright, but not unnaturally straight. Slowly straighten your legs as you rise.
What can I do myself?
Avoid prolonged sitting and keep the back mobile. Take regular exercise aimed at strengthening abdominal and back muscles. Swimming is an excellent exercise for back pain. Using a back rub and can also help control minor bouts of back pain. Some people find relief from cold treatment with an ice pack.
For a persistent backache, a gradual loss of excess weight will help reduce the weight-bearing load on the spine. Sleeping on a firm mattress and, for severe, chronic back pain, wearing a corset-like back brace can also help to ease the situation.
Reducing emotional stress if at all possible can help, as many people unconsciously tighten their back muscles when they are worried or tense.
When should I see my doctor?
Your doctor will examine your posture and the movements of your back when you are standing. You will then be asked to lie down so your back can be checked for areas of tenderness and muscle spasm. The nerve and muscle function in both legs will also be tested, as pressure on the spinal nerve can cause numbness or weakness.
Is low back pain dangerous?
Low back pain is rarely dangerous. However, if the pain is accompanied by leg weakness, a feeling of numbness, or bladder or bowel problems, this indicates that there is pressure on one or more of the spinal nerves.
If the pain is caused by a disc prolapse or tumor, prolonged pressure on a spinal nerve will require surgery, as permanent nerve damage can result. You must see a doctor if the pain is persistent.
Many people with recurrent back pain have found relief by studying and following the Alexander Technique. This is a system of posture adjustment and training for the right movement of the spine, neck, and limbs. The technique is taught in individual classes.