Diseases & Conditions

Low Back Pain

Low Back PainCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Low Back Pain?

Low Back Pain, otherwise known as lumbago, is a commonly found musculoskeletal condition that affects most human beings at some time or other in their lives.

Causes of low back pain

Most of the lower back pain originates from a benign musculoskeletal condition and is termed as ‘non-specific low back pain’. This is caused by either strain or sprain of soft tissues or the muscles, especially in instances in which pain occurred suddenly while corporeal loading of one’s back with the ensuing pain being lateral to one’s spine. Almost all of the back pain occurrences belong to this category. Other lesser conditions also can bring about the condition. Injury or disease to the bones, muscles as also nerves near the spine can cause low back pain. Another cause is termed referred pain which means all pain originating from abnormalities prevailing within one’s abdomen, chest or pelvis can also be sensed in one’s back. Several intra-abdominal conditions can help develop lumbago. They are…

  • Appendicitis
  • Kidney disorders
  • Aneurisms
  • Pelvic and bladder infections
  • Ovarian disorders

A normal pregnancy also can develop low back pain in various ways that include irritating nerves, causing strain to the lower back and stretching the ligaments.

Medications for low back pain

Anti-inflammatory medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs can bring relief to low back pain. Chronic and acute pain as well as spasms is relieved by using muscle relaxants in tandem with NSAIDs.

Prevention of low back pain

Low-impact exercises like walking, bicycling and swimming rather than high impact exercises are found to be beneficial in preventing lumbago. Avoiding lifting weights that one cannot lift also can prevent lumbago.

Risk factors for low back pain

A recent research study indicates that general disability can develop as a result of back pain. This is because people suffering from low back pain tend to have coping behaviors that are not up to the mark. Injections using epidural corticosteroids might bring about temporary relief to the patient from sciatica, although they cannot bring down the pace of the ensuing operations.

Symptoms of low back pain

Pain down the lumbosacral region, also known as the lower portion of one’s back remains the basic symptom of lumbago. The pain can radiate along the front, back or side of one’s leg or might be limited to one’s low back. This pain tends to get worse with any activity. At times, it might worsen in the night or with continued sitting as on an extended motor trip. One might feel weak or numb in that portion of one’s leg which receives its neural supply from any compressed nerve. This might result in being unable to plantar flex one’s foot and as such one is not in a position to lower one’s foot or stand on one’s toes. This happens whenever the initial sacral nerve gets injured or compressed. One also would be unable to raise one’s big toe as a lumbar nerve gets compromised.

Treatment for low back pain

For acute cases of lumbago that are in no way debilitating, low back pain can be effectively treated by means of self-care remedies like application of cold or heat as well as continuing physical activity right within the confines of low back pain. As to mattresses, medium-firm ones have been found to be more efficacious than firm mattresses. However, continued bed rest is found to be more harmful than beneficial.

Physical therapy is another factor that is found to be effective. This can include ice, heat, massage, electrical stimulation as well as ultra sound.

Types of low back pain

Low back pain is basically of three different types as characterized by the duration of the prevailing symptoms. They are…

  • Acute lumbago
  • Subacute lumbago
  • Chronic lumbago

Acute lumbago does not last more than four weeks while subacute lumbago remains for anywhere between 4 to 12 weeks and chronic lumbago which can last beyond 12 weeks.