Around a third of people will experience some kind of lower back pain every year. Lower back (lumbago) pain is usually not something to be worried about, but shouldn’t be ignored. Most of the time individuals will assume it will pass over a few weeks – unfortunately, this is not the case and seeing a medical provider is the best option for safe, and quick pain relief. One of the most frustrating aspects of this condition is that every case is different and sometimes there are no readily recognizable causes for it developing. Likewise, it is difficult to place a timescale on recovery as most people will recover quite quickly while for others it could become a chronic condition. 

Often times, low back pain will be simply irritating and inconvenient. Simple stretches combined with just taking it easy will hopefully help it pass as smoothly as possible. Yet there are occasions when it is necessary to visit a medical doctor or physical therapist to check that lower back pain is not a symptom of something more serious. 

Causes & Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

There is more to back pain than just having a painful back. The characteristics of the pain will usually suggest whether it is simply a strain – whereby rest, recuperation and sometimes medication are the only solutions – or if it could be a deeper problem. Most people will have hurt their backs by incorrectly trying to lift a heavy load, turning suddenly in a peculiar direction, or even just sleeping in a high-stress position. In these cases, there is usually a clear cause for the pain and in a way that is good news. It means that it can be treated as an injury and with appropriate care will heal up with little long term repercussions. 

A physical therapy office will be able to help pinpoint the pain and provide solutions to getting pain relief. 

However, what happens when lower back pain becomes apparent without a readily identifiable cause? Often referred to as ‘non-specific back pain’ – in the sense that it just appears out of the blue – these will be taken much more seriously by most doctors. There are a wide variety of reasons why back pain may materialize as a symptom of a more significant health problem. It could be a slipped disc, caused when spine cartilage starts to press into a local nerve. Another common cause may be sciatica whereby an irritated nerve causes pain that runs from the lower back all the way down to the feet. Both of these are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, weakness, and tingling. 

When To Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect that you may have a slipped disc or are experiencing the sensations that may indicate sciatica then you should visit a medical doctor as soon as possible. Early remedial treatment and physical therapies can make both of these conditions much easier to deal with in the long term – but be aware that they will not just vanish without medical assistance. They will instead become worse and can lead to serious disability if left unchecked. Yet there are a number of other warning signs that may suggest your back pain could be a symptom of something more serious. Seek medical help right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Numbness around the lower torso

  • Loss of bladder/bowel control

  • Difficulty urinating or passing a stool

  • High temperature (around or over 100°F)

  • Any chest pain

  • Swellings on the torso or along the spine

  • Sudden weight loss

  • Unsteadiness/loss of balance

  • Pain is not receding after a couple of weeks

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Preventing Lower Back Pain

Wear and tear is something that we simply have to get used to as we age. Back pain can affect people of all ages and stages of fitness, but it is no coincidence that it tends to be more severe among middle and later age groups. As most problems tend to arise from muscular and skeletal/spinal issues, there are a variety of simple practices that can significantly lessen the severity and frequency of back issues. 

Perhaps the best known is simply to maintain a ‘proper’ posture. Comfortable and easier as it may feel to walk with our shoulders hunched or curl up in bed instead of lying down straight, keeping weight appropriately distributed across the spine does play an essential role. Learning how to naturally maintain good posture is one of the best habits that we can adopt when it comes to preventing back pain. Remember to apply it when walking, sitting, and lying down.

Suitable lifting techniques are essential and not just for those who regularly engage in manual labor. Severe back problems can develop just from one incidence of incorrectly lifting a heavy item. Always bend your knees and not your back.

Frequent exercise can also help keep your back muscles strong – even if it does not feel like it helps at the time. Swimming, cycling and even just walking all help to keep those essential muscles strong and limber. Try not to stay static in the same position for too long at a time. Something as simple as morning stretches and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a huge difference over time.

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Medical Treatments For Back Pain

Should you develop a serious issue with your back then your GP will likely forward you towards specialized physical therapies. As a general rule, most doctors nowadays veer as far as possible from prescribing strong painkillers, not just because they only mask the issue but due to a significant rise in abuse and addiction. 

Physiotherapists will design an exercise schedule intended to address the exact location of the pain. Most of this will be light resistance training and focussed upon posture, movement, stretching and strengthening. Expect also some more therapeutic treatments such as massage and spinal manipulation. In some cases, it may be worthwhile consulting with an osteopath or chiropractor. Surgical intervention for general back pain is extremely rare and will usually only be used in cases of severe crippling damage. Remember that it will only be considered a viable option providing there is clearcut identification of the cause (damaged disc etc) and a high probability of success.  Often, there are safer alternatives to surgery such as stem cell therapy or treatment that do not require surgery.

Last but not least – and due in part because of the huge number of people affected by back pain – a current trend in treating back pain is to steer people towards also taking up cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) alongside physiotherapy based treatments. The intention is to help people cope and manage their pain by restructuring their psychological reactions. 

 

Back pain and lower back soreness are common symptoms and something that we are all likely to deal with at some stage of our life.  In the majority of cases it will be a temporary problem, it is essential to be aware of the various forms that it can take and understand the chance it may suggest a more serious issue. 

As with many medical issues it is one of those cases where we can make some slight changes to our routine and behavior that ought to lessen the severity and regularity of back pain problems. Good quality medical attention will almost always steer people suffering recurring aches and strains towards physical therapy and it can make a significant difference. The good news when it comes to back pain is that providing people are able to keep up with their exercise routines there is a high chance that improvements will be made.

Back pain is something which may never entirely be beaten, but there most certainly are many ways to make living with the condition far more bearable.

Lower back pain may not go away after several days, it may require physical therapy.  Don’t let it go too long before you get it checked out and begin your recovery. Talk to a medical doctor and enjoy low back pain relief!

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