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Low Back Pain

Submitted by on August 18, 2009 – 9:15 am4 Comments



Low Back Pain is the pain associated with the lower back area between the ribs and above the upper legs. The lower back is the crucial link binding the upper and lower body, largely bearing the body weight due to which it faces easy injury or abuse when lifting, reaching or twisting.

With nearly everybody going through the pain at some phase of their lives, the positive aspect to it is that with a few crude self-help courses of actions the problem will pass away in some weeks. However, if chronic or relapsing pain persists beyond a few couple of weeks, seeking medical assistance is crucial.

Low Back Pain Causes: Low Back Pain is regularly caused due to excessive use, straining or injury, sudden jerky movements during travelling or while doing some physical activity.

With age, the bone and muscle strength deteriorates raising the possibility of injury. The cushioning disc connecting the spinal vertebrae might undergo major wear and tear causing friction between the bones. Often a protruding or a ruptured open disc also known as herniated disc exerts pressure on the nerves, leading to back pain.

Many times low back pain is the outcome of arthritis that causes inflammation, pain, warmth and restrictive movement. Sometimes ruptured vertebrae or compression fractures that are caused by loss in bone mass called osteoporosis, ailment or congenital spine problem can lead to low back problem. If one is stressed or depressed, chances of chronic back pain accelerates.

Low Back Pain Symptoms: Low back pain causes wide-ranging symptoms depending on the root cause that include:

  • A sharp-shooting, dulling or burning pain localized at a specific point or spanning a wider area that initiates either slowly or in sudden bursts. It could arise with muscular spasms or inflexibility.
  • Leg symptoms caused due to pressure on the nerve ending that lead to the leg causes painful, numbing or tingling sensations occurring in the leg that radiate below the knee, that could occurs solely or in combination with low back pain.
  • An atypical yet grave problem known as cauda equina syndrome could crop up when nerve endings of the spinal cord get compressed leading to weakness or numbing sensation in both legs or urinary or faecal incontinence in which case one needs to undertake emergency medical assistance.

Exams and Tests: The doctor after taking into consideration medical history, symptoms, work and physical activities engaged along with a physical examination would prescribe the line of treatment.  Imaging testing like X-rays, MRI and CT scan is done in severe cases involving herniated disc, ruptured bone, cancer or if impending surgery has been planned.

Low Back Pain Treatment: Majority of lower back pain cases will get better with the subsequent treatments:

  • In the initial days, resting in a secure position that involves attempting to lie down on the side with a cushion placed between the legs or lying flat on the ground with a cushion underneath the knees. The key being to not remain stationary in any position for long periods and taking short strides of 20-30 minutes intervals in every 2-3 hours followed again by a restful position.
  • If necessary opting for off-the counter pain reliever medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol for instance), an anti-inflammatory medicine like aspirin or ibuprofen ( Advil, Motrin for instance) are ideally most effectual when taken in a regular manner rather than waiting till the pain escalates.
  • One could try using a low or medium set warming pad, disposable heat wraps that work for eight hours, using ice or cold water packs for up to fifteen minutes in two or three hour intervals or going in for a warm water shower for close to twenty minutes in an interval of three hours. Though, no direct evidence of its total effectiveness, but using heat or ice can assist partly in recuperation.
  • Avoid being bed-ridden for more than two days as it could abate muscle strength and worsen matters, so getting into the daily routine of things is the best bet. Starting with close to ten minutes of daily walking with gradual increase with not only accelerate blood circulation but also fortify the muscles. Walking through waist or chest deep water is also a highly vouched exercise.
  • Undertaking physiotherapy sessions that would include simplistic exercises to stabilize and strengthen core muscles and spine, helping better posture, balance and reduce chances of injury.
  • Some individuals respond to massage therapy, spinal manoeuvring like chiropractic care or osteopathic manoeuvring and acupuncture.
  • If symptoms persist after a couple of weeks and despite all the self-help steps, one needs to seek medical help that might necessitate the need for a stronger dose of pain medications or physiotherapy.
  • Depression can set in with persistent back pain, so such individuals react positively to cognitive behavioural therapy alongside anti-depressant medications.
  • Most cases show improvement, but in rare cases when surgery is needed it does not guarantee 100% pain relief and is always ideal to seek a second opinion prior to such decisions.

Prevention: To maintain a healthy back one needs to:

  • Always maintaining a correct posture, doing low intensity exercises daily with adequate initial warm-ups and wearing appropriate, supporting foot wear with low heels.
  • Avoiding being overweight as it only puts additional strain on the back.
  • Avoiding sudden jerky movements while moving, carrying objects with knees bent holding them close to the abdomen while lifting and avoiding twisting at that time.
  • Investing in a good seating arrangement that provides ideal back support. Using the back belt doesn’t necessarily avert back abuse.
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4 Comments »

  • smilinggreenmom says:

    This is great information, thanks! My husband has suffered from severe lower back pain for many years now and just recently (after carrying our children around) I have too. It is awful sometimes. Our family loves natural ways of taking care of our bodies and our health and fortunately found a natural pain cream that really works great. So now- we use this as much as we can so we don’t have to depend entirely on oral pain meds. We also use our corn pillow for heat and massage. I hope this helps others!

  • smilinggreenmom says:

    So sorry- I guess I should have mentioned that our pain cream is called Topricin pain cream…incase any of your readers wanted to know. Thanks :)

  • Lin says:

    Lower back pain can be cure by exercises such as yoga or by medications, however, lower back pain if it becomes chronic could be a signal for cancer in the spine or if on the left side a colon cancer. So in that case, you should see a doctor.

  • I would like to share a piece of information.

    I did consulted with a doctor. Well he said, low back pain can be a result of cancer. That is one of the differential diagnoses that the doctors consider as health professionals. There are many potential causes of back pain, but one of the most common is pain of neuro-musculoskeletal origin, of which a disc protrusion is. There are specific signs and tests, including laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging (x-ray, MRI, etc).

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