Low back pain (lumbar pain) refers to the sharp and shooting pain felt in the lower part of the back, anywhere from the rib to the legs. As a result of such pain, you may suffer from stiffness of the back, have difficulty in walking or standing up straight. The lower part of the back supports most of the body’s weight, therefore, any type of strain on it causes mild to severe distress and discomfort. This is a common disorder with a very high incidence. About eight out of ten people suffer from low back pain at least once in their lifetimes.
Types of Low Back Pain
- Acute: Acute low back pain is for short term and lasts from few days to few weeks. However, such an acute pain may become serious, if ignored.
- Chronic: Progressive and/or occasional, low back pain that lasts for more than three months is termed as chronic low back pain.
Low back pain is referred to as one of the major lifestyle disorders these days. However, there are certain medical conditions and other reasons why a person may suffer from low back pain.
- Narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Physical injury due to lifting heavy weight.
- Compression fractures to the spine from osteoporosis
- Ruptured or herniated disc (Prolapsed Inter-vertebral Disc or PID).
- Tears or strain to the muscles or ligaments supporting the back.
- Spine curvatures, which may be inherited and seen in teens or children.
- Difference in the leg lengths.
- Degenerated discs.
- Restricted hip motion.
- Abnormal foot pronation.
- Spondylolisthesis and other congenital abnormalities.
- Bad body posture.
- Oxygen deprivation.
- Cancer that involves spine.
- Arthritis conditions, such as osteoarthitis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Kidney infection or kidney stones.
- Infections of the spine.
- Spinal tumour.
- Bacterial infections.
- Paget’s disease.
Symptoms of low back pain:
- Muscle spasms, stiffness, and cramping
- Mild to severe pain in the back and and hips.
- Tingling, weakness, or numbness in one or both the legs, or foot.
- Feeling discomfort while sneezing and coughing.
- Depending upon the cause of the pain, the symptoms may be better or worse in various positions.
Treatment for low back pain:
In most of the acute back pain cases, self-care treatments can help you a lot, and can provide complete relief, too.
- Reduce the level of activities you do in a day, but don’t go for a bed rest as it may decrease your ability to function.
- Avoid sitting for long stretches of period.
- Ask for the over-the-counter pain killers/relievers available at the chemist shop, they may ease the pain.
- Sleep on medium-firm mattresses rather than soft ones.
- Apply heat or ice on the affected area.
- Avoid lifting heavy items and doing things that twist your back.
- Go for therapeutic massages, as they increase blood circulation in the body.
For chronic back pain:
- Exercise as recommended by a physiotherapist or a spine specialist after considering your condition and level of pain.
- Reduce stress in your life.
- Maintain proper body weight as recommended to you by your doctor.
- Don’t bend or twist your back.
- Avoid smoking as it slows down the healing process of the tissues.
In most of the cases, lower back pain clear up by taking some precautions and without any treatment. But, there are chances that the problem may recur and thus, one should always take precautionary measures like improving the posture and lifting techniques.
Precautionary measures to avoid low back pain :
- Exercise regularly to be fit, flexible and strengthen your back muscles.
- Wear low-heeled footwear.
- Maintain healthy weight so that you don’t put extra pressure on your back.
- Quit smoking.
- Maintain a good posture while sitting and standing, and protect your back. Good posture means that your ears, shoulders, hips and knees should be in one line while standing and sitting.
- Eat balanced and healthy diet.
- Relax your mind and body.