About 540 million people worldwide suffer from lower back pain. Finding the right treatment for lower back pain can be a challenging task, especially when the root of the issue is unknown.
Today, we have collected everything you need to know about the different causes of lower back pain and what kinds of treatments are available.
Lower back pain symptoms
Lower back pain symptoms can either appear instantly or gradually. For example, performing a specific activity such as lifting a heavy item, bending over to pick something off the ground, or sleeping in a bad posture, can cause you to experience sudden pain. However, the source of lower back pain can sometimes be unknown.
Symptoms may vary, depending on what is causing it. These include:
You may also feel a sharp pain that extends down the back of your legs. The sharp pain might also worsen after getting into certain positions such as bending over or lying down.
Lower back pain causes
Lower back pain can emerge for various reasons. They can include injuries, diseases, or other medical conditions. Any form of back pain can interfere with simple, everyday activities and affect your sleep quality.
When muscles or ligaments stretch too far out, this can result in a strain or sprain. Strains or sprains typically occur the following day after have performed an intense activity or have exercised a bad movement.
Injury from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can damage ligaments, tendons or muscle causing pain. Or injuries that compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.
Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when discs wear down as a natural process of aging and their cushioning capacity is lessened.
Spondylosis which is the general degeneration of the spine due to normal wear and tear that happens in the bones, joints and discs of the spine.
Arthritis or other inflammatory disorders in the spine, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
When the sciatica nerve is compressed, it can cause a sharp pain that extends from your lower back all the way down to your legs. This can also happen due to a herniated disc.
Your vertebrae are cushioned by small spinal bones called discs. Sometimes, due to injuries or diseases, the discs can bulge or slip from their original position, leading to pressure on a nearby nerve. With time, the discs can also rupture or herniate.
A spinal fracture is when one or more of your vertebrae break. You can end up breaking your vertebrae by suffering a harsh fall or a traumatic accident.
Harmful bacteria, fungi, or viruses can infect the tissues surrounding the spine or even the spine itself. Spinal infections can arise from an injury or a possible underlying disease, like cancer, diabetes, or lupus. This can also happen if infection from another part of your body spreads to your spine.
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal nerve injury, compression and/or inflammation
- Cauda equina syndrome
Treatments for lower back pain
Lower back pain can usually be relieved at home with rest, ice and some over-the-counter drugs. Staying active is also an effective way of treating lower back pain, as it stimulates blood flow, and helps the affected area to heal. Physical activity and exercise are also among the few remedies that have been proven to alleviate back pain.
Chronic back pain is often treated with a stepped care approach, progressing from simple low-cost approaches to more aggressive treatments.
Treatments available for lower back pain include:
Your physician might prescribe one of the following:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- topical pain-relievers
- muscle relaxants
Do not attempt to take any of this medication without the advice and supervision of a qualified and registered medical practitioner.
In physical therapy, they teach you how to perform various exercises in order to increase your flexibility as well as strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. A physical therapist can also help you correct and maintain a healthy back posture.
Not only do they help ease discomfort, but they also teach you what you can do to prevent your pain from flaring up again in the future.
Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in the manipulation of the spine and treating the surrounding areas. The main goal behind chiropractic care is to get your spine adjusted in order to diminish pain, discomfort and improve mobility.
Despite spinal adjustments being their speciality, chiropractic includes a variety of treatments, such as exercises and massages. Part of their job is to educate their patient on the measures they must take to prolong the lower back pain relief. They provide their patients with different daily exercises as well as recommend dietary changes that help improve their lower back pain.
Acupuncture can be moderately effective for chronic low back pain. Inserting thin needles into precise points throughout the body and stimulating them through twisting or low voltage electrical current may cause the body to release endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine which help to relieve pain.
Trigger point injections can ease bound muscles that may contribute to back pain. An injection of a local anesthetic and often a corticosteroid into the trigger point(s) can reduce or alleviate pain.
Epidural steroid injections are given to manage back pain and sciatica associated with inflammation. These only provide temporary relief and are not recommended for long-term use.
Radiofrequency ablation involves inserting a needle into the area causing the pain to destroy nerve fibres that carry pain signals to the brain.
How to prevent lower back pain
Even though preventing lower back pain caused by a disease or structural issue isn’t possible, you can avoid injuring your back. For example, strengthening your abdominal muscles will help support your spine and distribute the pressure evenly. Maintaining a healthy weight will also help keep pressure off your vertebrae and spine.
Getting regular exercise and sticking to a nutritious diet is also a way to keep your back strong and help prevent any injuries.
Ergonomically designed furniture and equipment may help reduce everyday strain, pressure and wear and tear that can contribute to lower back pain.
Should you see a chiropractor for lower back pain?
Is lower back pain limiting your day to day activities? When you find it is stopping you from living your life and doing the things you love, it is time to find a solution. One of these options is to engage in the services of a chiropractor.
Chiropractic care concentrates on the relationships between the nervous and musculoskeletal systems and the spine. It uses a physical, holistic approach that involves spinal manipulation and lifestyle improvements to reduce or eliminate the causes of lower back pain.
Is it time for you to visit a chiropractor? If so, schedule an appointment today.