Low back pain: Symptoms, causes and management

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One of the most common problems to combat, many people today suffer from low back pain. Recognized as a universal human experience, every individual gets it at some point in their life. The lower back which starts below the rib-cage is known as the lumbar region and pain experienced in this region can be very painful. Usually, this pain goes away on its own without any medical treatment, however, it is rising as one of the top reasons to miss work leading to a cause of disability across the globe.

Lower back pain is often caused by straining your back due to bad posture or performing heavy load exercises, activities. It starts in an individual’s early 20s and continues throughout adulthood. According to studies, around 60-70% of the general audience suffer from lower back pain during their lives. If you are at the risk of it, learning how to prevent the pain by knowing what activities could cause it – is one way to put you off the risk of developing pain.

Fortunately, there are measures that can relief you from lower back pain, however, when prevention fails, simple and easy home treatments with proper body mechanics can heal your back pain within a couple of weeks. If you have had surgery, the treatment will differ and needs medical attention. In rare to most cases, the symptoms and signs are prominent to notice. Pain in the lumbosacral area (lower part of your back) is the primary symptom of experiencing low back pain. However, you can experience fewer to more symptoms and it is important that you are aware of it.

Women and men are equally affected by lower back pain, and in order to take precautionary measures, you must understand the symptoms, causes and how to manage pain.

Symptoms of low back pain

Symptoms range from a mild ache to stabbing type sensation on your lower back. The pain can be experienced while you stand up straight making it hard to move. Acute pains come suddenly often after you have had an injury or from sports, heavy lifting. Such chronic pains may last for two or more than three months. If you experience severe pains, visiting your health care provider/doctor is highly recommended. Other warning signs could be loss of bladder control, leg weakness, fever, pain when coughing or urinating, history of cancer, unintentional weight loss.  If you experience any of these symptoms along with your low back pain, do contact your doctor.

  1. When you are experiencing low back pain, it may radiate down the side, front or back of your legs.
  2. The pain will become worse while performing any activity or even exercising.
  3. The pain will tend to increase with prolonged sitting or even after a long road trip.
  4. You may experience numbness or weakness in the leg which receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve.

What causes you to have low back pain?

There are plenty of reasons why one can experience low back pain as it is mechanical in nature. One of the most associated is spondylosis – refers to the general degeneration of the spine that occurs in joints, discs, bones as people get old. Some of the common causes of low back pain include:

1. Sprains and strains

This accounts for most acute to severe back pains. Sprains can be caused by overexercising and stretching of ligaments. Strains are tears in tendon or muscle. Both to these can occur from twisting or improperly lifting or too heavy lifting. Such movements may also give you pain in back muscles.

2. Arthritis

Arthritis can affect the lower back. In fewer cases, this can also lead to a narrowing of space in the spinal cord which can lead to conditions such as spinal stenosis causing more pains in your lower back.

3. Disc Degeneration

One of the common causes of low back pain, this usually occurs as a normal process of ageing. The rubbery discs start to deteriorate with age where a healthy back can lose its cushioning ability. This causes pain and torsion of the lower back.

4. Traumatic Injury

Injuries caused by playing sports or any accidents that affect ligaments or muscles result in low back pain. Such injuries also cause the spine to become compressed resulting in disc or rupture to the spinal cord. When this happens, it irritates and affects your lower back and may also lead to sciatica.

5. Skeletal Irregularities

Skeletal irregularities which tend to curve your spine to the side can also lead to pain in the lower back and usually occurs after middle age.

Besides the above, pain in the lower back can also relate to some serious underlying conditions such as infections, tumours, kidney stones etc and when they do, they require immediate medical attention.

How can you manage low back pain?

Treatments of lower back often depends on how acute or severe the pain is. However, if the pain is very chronic, surgery is recommended only if the pain worsens. Here are some conventional methods and treatments that can help reduce low back pain with basic care.

1. Cold and hot packs

lower back pain treatment by ice pack or hot pack

This does not help cure the pain, but however, helps in easing pain and reduce inflammation if you experience acute chronic pain. This can allow you to at least stand straight and move around with great mobility.

2. Physical activities

While you are supposed to bed rest, this should be limited. You can begin with simple exercises like stretching and resume normal daily activities eventually. Although, do avoid movements that can aggravate the pain. Little to less activity can actually reduce the pain and better the back’s flexibility. Too much bed rest can cause secondary complications such as depression, blood clots in the legs and decreased muscle tone.

3. Physical Therapy

physical therapy therapist applying strong pressure for lower back pain

To further strengthen the muscle and tissues, physical therapy is suggested so that the muscles are strong enough to support the lower back. This can also improve flexibility and mobility, and promote better posture and positioning.

4. Maintaining a healthy weight

If you are overweight, it may strain your back muscles. It is highly important that you maintain a healthy weight in order to trim down the pains and prevent back pain in a long-run.

5. Avoid Movements and Twists

To avoid back pains, it is vital that you use your body properly. Stand smart, sit smart and lift smart. If you are standing for long periods, try keeping a foot on a low footstool to avoid strain on the back and continue by alternating the feet. Choose a seat with good lower back support and change your position frequently, at least every 30 minutes. If possible, try avoiding heavy lifting which can strain your back immediately. No twisting – instead bend on knees and hold the load close to your body.

Zigreads Team
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