Nearly everyone will experience non-specific lower back pain at some stage in their lives. This pain can vary from mild to severe and can be short-lived or long-lasting. Nevertheless it happens, lower back pain can make many everyday activities difficult to do.
Anatomy of the low back
Your spine is comprised of small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. Additional parts of your spine include muscles, ligaments, nerves, and intervertebral disks.
Causes of lower back pain
There are many factors behind lower back pain but one of the more common causes is muscle soreness from over-activity. Muscles and ligament fibers can be overstretched or injured which can often occur following a specific movement including lifting or bending. Growing older also plays a part in many back conditions. As we grow older, our spines age with us causing degenerative changes in the spine. These changes can start when we are young and can make us prone to back pain, especially if we overdo our activities.
Lower Back Pain Symptoms
Back pain varies but it may be sharp or stabbing or it can be dull, achy, or feel like a cramp. The type of pain you have will depend on the underlying cause of your back pain. Most people find that reclining or lying down will improve lower back pain, no matter the underlying cause. People with lower back pain may experience some of the following:
Back pain can be worse with bending and lifting.
Sitting may worsen the pain.
Standing and walking may worsen the pain.
Back pain is inconsistent, and in most cases follows an up and down course with good days and bad days.
Pain may extend from the back into the buttock or outer hip area, but not down the leg.
Sciatica frequently occurs with a herniated disk. This consists of buttock and leg pain, as well as numbness, tingling, or weakness, which goes into the foot. It is possible to have sciatica without back pain.
Treatment for lower back pain
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines will help to reduce pain and swelling. Chiropractic treatment is provided in a number of different forms.
Physical therapy can include passive modalities such as heat, muscle cross-friction, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. Active therapy consists of stretching, weight lifting, and cardiovascular exercises. Exercising to restore motion and strength to your lower back can be very helpful in relieving pain.
Other exercise-based programs, such as Pilates or yoga are helpful for some patients.
It may not be possible to prevent lower back pain as we cannot stop the normal deterioration of our spines, which is coupled with aging. But there are things we are able to do to reduce the impact of low back problems. Leading a healthy lifestyle is an excellent start, which includes: