Lower back pain is a common problem. In fact, statistics show that every American has to deal with it at some point their life. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to get well acquainted with the basics of lower back pain if for nothing else, to know how to deal with the condition once it occurs.
So, What is Lower Back Pain?
For starters, this is a particular type of pain that affects the lumbar region. It can be intense or mild depending on the cause. Nonetheless, it isn’t a fatal condition and is easily reversible if you seek the correct treatment is early enough.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain can be as a result of a host problems affecting the complex, interconnected network of spinal muscles, bone, nerves, tendons or disks in the lumbar spine.
Here is a checklist of the most common causes of lower back pain.
Subjecting the muscles and ligaments in your back area to excess activity and result in tear and overstretching. Also, lifting heavy objects, sudden movement or twisting can cause microscopic tears. Symptoms of lower back pain brought about by strain include;
- Encountering problems with movement. In severe cases, it may prevent you from standing or walking
- Pain around the groin and upper thigh
- Pain that causes itchiness in the lumbar region
- Mild to severe muscle spasms
This is a condition that occurs when a herniated disc presses a sciatic nerve (the nerve that connects the spine to the legs) Sciatica may bring about one or a combination of the following symptoms.
- An ongoing pain (unlike flare ups that last for a couple of days and then fade away
- Pain in the foot and leg, usually worse than in lower back. You typically feel the pain on one side of leg or groin.
- Pain that worsens after long hours of standing or sitting. It eases after you take a walk
- Severe tingling and burning
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty to walk
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis subjects pressure on the nerve at the point where they exit the spine. In return, that leads to pain when walking or standing. Symptoms of lower back pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis include;
- Sudden onset of lower back pain
- Pain that gets worse when walking or standing
- The intensity of pain reduces when you lie on your back
- Less spinal flexibility
- Height loss
- Disability or deformity
Sacroiliac Joint Disease
This is a condition that occurs when there’s too much or little movement in the sacroiliac joint. This is the joint that connects the bottom of the spine and the sacrum to the hip on each side. The sacroiliac joint disease is prevalent in younger adults. Arthritis may increase its risk in older adults. The most common symptom includes;
- Pain that makes it impossible to sleep
- Pain in the morning and again toward the end of the day
- Local tenderness when you press the affected area of the spine
- Intermittent or steady pain that aggravates when you perform certain activities
- Loss of flexibility or stiffness in the back
Spinal Compression Fracture
Your risk of spinal fracture increases with age, more so after you hit 50. It is even more common in postmenopausal women osteoporosis. Men who’ve used corticosteroid for long also have a higher spinal compression fracture risk. Any person with these conditions can develop lower back pain even when the spine a slight force is put on the spine.
Other Common Causes of Lower Back Pain Include;
- Facet joint osteoarthritis – A degenerative condition caused by a breakdown of cartilage between the facet joints in the spine.
- Isthmic Spondylolisthesis – This happens when the vertebra in the lower back slips forward on the disc space below it. Fractures sustained in childhood may also cause the condition in young adulthood.
- Lumbar herniated disc – This is a condition that occurs when the nerve root in the lower spine becomes compressed, leading to numbness and pain that travels along the sciatic nerve.
How is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed?
If you visit a doctor for lower back pain, he or she will conduct either of the following procedures to determine the severity of the condition.
- X-Ray – This shows the alignment of your bones. It reveals if you have broken bones or arthritis. Nonetheless, X-ray images may not show problems with your muscles, spinal cord or nerve disks.
- Blood Tests – These may help reveal if you have an infection or any other condition that is the probable cause of your pain.
- MRI or CT Scans – These generate images to show problems with your tissue, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and bones.
Other tests include
- Nerve studies
- Bone scan
Lower Back Pain Treatment and Drugs
Depending on the severity of your lower back pain, your doctor may recommend the following medications;
- Over the counter pain relievers – These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen or naproxen sodium
- Muscle relaxants – These can help ease mild to moderate back pain
- Topical pain relievers – These include creams, ointments or salves that you can rub on your lumbar region.
- Injections – These seek to numb the area around your spinal cord to offer temporal pain relief
Physical Therapy and Exercise
This is the most efficient option for treating lower back pain. Your therapist may suggest a variety of treatments including heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle release techniques.
Inversion therapy exercises are also highly efficient. By using an inversion table to hang your body upside down, you can reduce the pressure on your discs as well as align your spine. When done on a regular basis, these exercises can help prevent the pain from coming back.
This is an option in case of severe back pain caused by conditions such as nerve compression. Even so, surgery is the last resort, particularly when you’re suffering from structural problems such as narrowing of the spine.
This involves joining programs that teach you how to manage your condition effectively. It may be a session with your doctor. It emphasizes the importance of embarking on a regular exercise regimen.
As stated earlier on, lower back pain is manageable if you take measures to prevent it early. Whenever in doubt, be sure to consult your family doctor on the best way to prevent or treat your condition. And, speaking of inversion therapy, here would be a good place to start.