Lower back pain is a common ailment that affects the lumbar region of the body. It is usually caused by strain on the muscles of the back. Pain may range from mild to sever. In most cases, lower back pain usually gets better with physical therapy, rest and pain relievers (like ibuprofen). Lower back pain is normally a minor ache that does not require medical intervention.
The location of the pain, its intensity and its duration are also very important factors. People with back pain have very delicate structures in their abdomen, especially the intervertebral discs. The discs are cartilage between the bones and the spinal column. When the discs are compressed, they cause friction or rubbing between the bones and the spinal column. This constant rubbing causes pressure and irritation to the discs.
Some other factors that contribute to back pain are excess weight, muscle spasms and prolonged standing or sitting. Excess weight puts great pressure on the spine, especially the intervertebral discs. Muscles also tighten with excess weight, causing lower back pain.
In addition, muscle spasms and prolonged sitting put tremendous strains on the spinal cord, nerves and ligaments. When long periods of sitting are tolerated, the disc linings between the bones and discs get compressed. This compression is caused by gravity and the weight of the head and neck. The compressed discs weaken over time and can lead to inflammation, disc degeneration and possibly fibrosis of the intervertebral discs. These are the most common reasons people have lower back pain.
Poor posture, bad habits, age and unhealthy lifestyle are also some of the common reasons people have Back pain. Poor posture, or slouching, puts increased stress on the spine. Slouching is a habitual activity that many people do without thinking. Chronic slouching places greater strain on the body through the nerves and supporting structures and causes the nerve roots surrounding the spine to become compressed.
Regular physical therapy combined with anti-inflammatory medication and massage therapies is an effective way to manage mild to moderate chronic lower back pain. Steroids and injections may be prescribed by a physician in severe cases. Injections and steroids are sometimes used together with physical therapy to help patients avoid lasting damage to their muscles and discs and improve function and relieve pain.
Blood tests are a part of the treatment process and the provider may ask you to do a muscle test, bone scan or X-ray. These tests are used to detect potential problems and to find out the cause of the pain. If you do have muscle or bone problems, your provider may refer you to an orthopedic specialist for more aggressive treatment. If you have a history of back pain in your family, you should get a full medical history from your doctor so you know if there are other conditions that may be causing the back pain you are experiencing. In some cases, blood tests may not be enough to identify the cause of the pain and X-rays will be needed to pinpoint the location of the pain.
Lifting incorrectly or improperly can cause pain, strain and damage to the tissues, ligaments and muscles. A strong core is critical for maintaining correct body mechanics and posture while performing normal daily tasks. If your back hurts, don’t ignore it – seek help right away.