Almost everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. The lower back pain begins below the ribcage (lumbar region), it can be extreme and can often resolve on its own without treatment. However, if it still persists for long, there are effective treatments that can ease pains.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain
Low back pain is mostly a symptom of other underlying medical conditions. Symptoms range from a dull ache to a stabbing sensation. The pain may make movement difficult. Low back pain can either be acute or chronic. Acute back pain comes on suddenly, often after an injury from sports or heavy lifting. Chronic pain is one that lasts more than three months.
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Other accompanying signs include:
- loss of bowel
- bladder control
- numbness in the groin area
- leg weakness
- pain when coughing or urinating.
Risk factors for developing low back pain includes:
- Prolonged used of steroid
- history of cancer
- weak immune system
- unexplained weight loss
- long-term steroid use
- history of IV drug use
- Pain that deteriorates with rest
Possible Causes of Low Back Pain
Maintaining a wrong back posture causes low back pain. Your back supports weight best if you don’t slouch when walking, standing, or sitting. This means sitting with good lumbar support for your lower back, shoulders back, with feet resting on a low stool. When standing, keep weight evenly balanced on both feet.
Muscle Strain or Sciatica
Muscle strain occurs when you do heavy lifting or exercising too hard. However, back pain can be related to a disc that bulges or ruptures. Sciatica pain occurs when a bulging or ruptured disc presses on the sciatic nerve. The pain may run from the buttock down one leg.
Nature of Job
Your job may contribute to back pain if it involves lifting, pulling, or anything that twists the spine. However, sitting at a desk all day comes with risks of its own, particularly if your chair is uncomfortable or you tend to slouch.
Type of bag you carry
The lower back that supports the upper body including any additional weight, like backpack, purse, or briefcase you carry. Carrying heavy bag can mount strain the lower back, especially if you carry it every day.
Type of workout
Doing strenuous exercise or workouts at the gym or golf course is one of the common causes of overextended muscles leading to low back pain. Spending hours at the gym or softball field on the weekend after being inactive during the week can cause back pain.
The vertebrae of the spine are cushioned by gel-like discs that are susceptible to wear and tear from aging or injuries. A weakened disc may rupture and mount pressure on the spinal nerve roots. This is known as a herniated disc and can cause severe pain.
Most people experience back pain first when they’re in their late 30s. The chances of extra attacks increase with age. Other reasons your low back may hurt include:
- Being sedentary
- Being overweight
- Lifting heavy stuff on the job
Diagnosing Low Back Pain
Your doctor will ask you specific questions to properly diagnose your back pain. Explain to your doctor when pain started and other accompanying symptoms. Your doctor will probably not need to order X-rays, CT or MRI scans before beginning treatment.
Home Care for Low Back Pain
Back pain due to muscle strain will usually improve on its own. However, you can take steps to make yourself more comfortable. A heating pad or warm baths may provide temporary relief from pains.
Yoga may help relieve symptoms if back pain persists after three months. In one study, people who took 12 weeks of yoga classes had fewer symptoms of low back pain than people who were given a book about care for back pain. The benefits lasted several months after the classes were finished.
Massage may help relieve chronic low back pain, especially when combined with exercise and stretching. According to researchers, patients who did all 3 were able to move around easier and had less short term and long term pain.
The evidence that acupuncture can treat back pain is diverse for people with short-term back pain. People benefited from fake acupuncture as much as from real acupuncture, according to several studies.
Spinal manipulation is used by chiropractors and some osteopathic doctors to treat low back pain by applying pressure with their hands to bones and surrounding tissues.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen helps relieve mild low back pain. Pain-relieving creams may be helpful for muscle aches. For severe pain or chronic pain, your doctor may recommend prescription medication.
Your doctor may administer injection to your back if other therapies prove abortive. A procedure called nerve root block targets irritated nerves. Injections for back pain usually contain steroid medication.
Back pain that is prolonged and has been interfering with your daily life, may require surgery. The procedure involves your doctor removing a herniated disc, widening the space around the spinal cord, and merging two spinal vertebrae together.
A physical therapist can guide you through stretches, strength exercises, and low-impact cardio that will improve your condition without straining your back.
Strengthening the Back
Flexion and extension are two types of strength-training moves that may strengthen the lower back. In flexion exercises, you bend forward to stretch the muscles of the back and hips, while in extension exercises, you bend backward to develop the muscles that support the spine. Discuss with your doctor about what exercises are best for you.
Preventing Low Back Pain
Back pain mostly begins to develop as you age. So, there’s no sure way to prevent back pain, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk:
- Lift heavy objects with your legs, not your back
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly
- Make sure your work position isn’t contributing to your pain.
Source: webmd.com, med.stanford.edu
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