Lower back or lumbar spine pain is one of the most common health issues worldwide. In fact, this medical condition is one of the top causes of disabilities. It often occurs among people between 30 to 50; however, other age groups can also develop such a condition. The popular assumption is that back pain is often the result of trauma. Yet, a large number of causes and medical conditions can start lower back pain.
Often, pain in the spine can lead to other extreme health conditions or speak of existing medical issues. Overall, ignoring back pain or treating it at home without a proper diagnosis is not the answer. Instead, it is best to understand the roots of the problem and treat it accordingly. This is what you need to know about this condition and how to deal with it.
Symptoms of lower back pain may vary due to the wide variety of causes that can start such pain. One should carefully analyze when they experience the most symptoms, in what states, and to what intensity. Such observation will help your doctor during the diagnosis. Most often, patients experience such symptoms as:
- Pain while lifting heavy things;
- pain when bending over, sitting, or even lying down for long periods;
- pain in the hips or higher;
- numbness in the hips, glutes, or back;
Having some or all of these pains for longer than three days calls for medical intervention and treatment. In addition to these common discomforts, people also suffer from more severe symptoms and pain including weakened control of the bowels, weight loss, pain in the feet or legs, and fever. These conditions can indicate a more serious health condition that should be diagnosed without delay.
Certain chronic conditions, occupations, and lifestyles can lead to developing lower back pain. Here are the common causes:
People can sprain the muscles on their back, along the spine. Such an issue often arises after lifting heavy objects, excessive activity, or previous back injuries. In such a case, people experience a muscle spasm, odd numbness, or stiffness.
Our spinal disks are moveable. With age, the risks of herniated or slipped spinal disks or signs of disks tear (on their outside part) increase. It usually happens as the result of injury or over time due to a sedative lifestyle. Here, the nerve root can be damaged or compressed due to extending further from the spinal cord. Without treatment, this pain may last up to a month.
During a condition known as spinal stenosis, our spinal nerves start to experience excessive pressure from the bone spurs, resulting in compression of the spinal cord or soft tissue. Such processes usually occur slowly over time and don’t have any symptoms at first. Later it results in numbness, weakness, and pain in the limbs.
A Variety of Medical Conditions
Sometimes, other disorders can trigger the reactions in our spines. Of course, the most common scenario will be people with arthritis. Several types of arthritis can affect back health and lead to pains and disfunctions in joints, often represented by inflammation. Other conditions can be fibromyalgia or spondylosis, which causes the loss of normal muscle and spinal structure functioning.
Other risk factors may include such conditions as:
- uterine fibroids;
- kidney infection;
- ovarian cysts;
- spinal infections;
- bladder disorders;
A physical exam is the dominant form of diagnosis. Doctors have to thoroughly examine a patient, and check their reflexes, the work of the nerve system, their motor functions, and the range of patients’ sensations during various movements in the upper and lower body. Patient’s medical history, lifestyle, duration of the experienced symptoms, etc.
Unless nerves are affected, doctors can monitor patients’ condition for up to several weeks to notice any changes or new symptoms to help them find the right diagnosis. In addition, there are two types of back pain. It can be acute (temporary) pain or chronic pain. The latter can last for three months and longer without a sign of relief.
In most cases, people don’t need to seek special medical treatment. Such a condition can be dealt with at home through self-care and home remedies. Of course, doctors can prescribe certain pain relief medications or some forms of at-home exercises or physical therapy sessions when needed. As for the rest, patients are capable of self-treatment as long as they are aware of the cause.
Common home treatments include compression, cold or heat therapy, or warm bath. These methods help relax the muscles, reducing spasming and tension. Ways of lower back pressure reduction are also recommended. Thus, patients should avoid sleeping on their backs. They can also slide a roll or towel under their hips. Weight loss if necessary and strengthening exercises are also highly recommended to enhance spine support and reduce pressure.
Medical treatment will include muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication, including opioids. Massage is another form of helpful medical intervention. However, in some rare cases, an operation is advised. There are a variety of surgeries, from minimally invasive procedures such as nucleoplasty to open procedures like disk removals, that can return to normal spine functioning.
People who are prone to lower back pains or who have suffered from spine trauma should consider doing preventative measures. Exercising is the best way to strengthen back muscles. The flexibility of these muscles will also minimize the chances of injuries and trauma. In this case, soft yoga and stretching are easy and accessible options for people of various physiques and ages. Sports like jogging or weightlifting, on the other hand, put too much stress on the spine, leading to back injuries. In addition, massage therapies can be used as another preventative measure.
Lower Back Pain – Final Thoughts
Lower back pain is more common than it seems to be. Almost every person has experienced some type of discomfort or pain in their hips, glutes, and lower back at least once in a lifetime. It is important to understand the roots of such sensations and schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as symptoms start to escalate.
A typical case of lower back pain can be treated with over-the-counter medication, massage, and home exercises. However, in case the pain doesn’t disappear and no at-home treatment helps, people should rather turn for professional assistance.