Lower Back Pain
Introduction to Lower Back Pain
Back pain is a very common condition that affects almost everyone at least once in his or her life.
What is Lower Back Pain?
Back pain is a very common condition that affects almost everyone at least once in his or her life. Lower back pain can be caused by problems with any parts of the intricate structure of muscles, nerves, bones, discs or tendons in the lower back.
What causes Lower Back Pain?
There are many reasons people get back pain. The most common is muscular, this could be due to poor posture, lifting heavy items or bending awkwardly. In most cases this type of pain will resolve itself in a few weeks.
The other reasons for lower back pain are slipping a disc, which is where one of the discs in your spine is injured and it presses on one of the nerves in the spine. Sciatica is where there is compression of a nerve in you leg, the sciatic nerve, and this can also cause pain in the lower back. A condition called ankylosing spondylitis causes stiffness and pain where the spine meets the pelvic bone. In older people back pain may be a sign of osteoarthritis. Often there is no clear reason why someone has lower back pain; the doctor may refer to this as ‘non-specific back pain.’
What are the symptoms of Lower Back Pain?
The most common symptom is pain in the lower back area, called the lumbar region, but you may have pain anywhere along your spine, this includes your neck all the way to down to your pelvis. If the cause is muscular, you may also have pain at the sides of your back. Other symptoms people with lower back pain may experience are pins and needles or numbness in the back or legs.
How is Lower Back Pain treated?
Most back pain associated with a musculoskeletal cause can be treated with rest and over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, which can also be applied as a gel onto the specific area. You may also find a heating pad or alternatively an ice pack helpful. Evidence has shown that actually being active helps to relieve back pain; so taking regular gentle exercise like walking or swimming may help. If your pain continues your doctor may prescribe you stronger pain medications such as codeine or tramadol.
If your back pain is due to a slipped disc, you may need surgery on your back. Additionally you may need to go a see a physiotherapist who will teach you some exercises to help strengthen your back and improve your pain.
Sometimes there is not much improvement in pain, and you may need to go a see a pain specialist who will assess you and give you further advice.