Lumbar pain or lumbago is a common musculo-skeletal disorder of the lower back, which is mainly caused due to muscle strains or lumbar strains. The main reason behind lower back muscle strain is either abnormal stretching of muscle fibres or tearing of muscle fibres due to trauma or overexertion.

Nearly everyone experiences this disorder at least once during their life. In fact, in the United States, it is the second most common reason after headache for taking a day-off from work. Lumbar pain can be divided into three categories:

  • Acute – it lasts less than 4 weeks
  • Sub-acute – it lasts between 4 and 12 weeks
  • Chronic – it lasts more than 12 weeks

The various symptoms of lumbar pain are:

  • Muscle spasm in the lower back.
  • Pain is usually experienced in the lower back or upper part of the hips.
  • The pain may slowly be felt on the legs.
  • The pain may aggravate by prolonged sitting, travelling or by doing strenuous activity.
  • You may experience numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve.

Many of you may think that lumbar pain or any kind of back pain is a common phenomenon and will go away by taking rest and popping few pain-killers. However, the severity of the condition depends on the cause. Hence, it is important for you to see your doctor, and find out the exact cause of lumbar pain. The various causes that may lead to lumbar pain are:

  • Inflammation in the soft tissues
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain caused due to abnormalities of organs within the chest, abdomen, or pelvis
  • Change in posture during pregnancy
  • Slipped disc
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis

Although it is not required for lumbar pain, the doctor may ask you to get an X-ray done of the affected part of the lower back. You may also have to go for other physical examination, after giving a detailed medical history to the doctor. In extreme cases, you may have to go for a CT scan or MRI, if suggested by the doctor.

The treatment for lumbar pain is:

  • Sleeping on one side with pillow between your knees.
  • Lying on your back with pillow under your knees.
  • Exercises like stretching can improve the condition, enabling you to take care of daily activities.
  • Pain killers that are available over-the-counter are great for quick relief.
  • Avoid bed-rest for more than two days, it may not be productive and may cause depression, blisters or blood clots.
  • Massage therapy and heat application.
  • In extreme cases, the doctors may suggest you to undergo surgery.

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