Lower Back Pain Causes, Treatment, and Exercises

Posted on 30. Nov, 2010 by in Lower Back Pain

About 80% of people will experience an episode of lower back pain at one point in their life. Lower back pain is responsible for more days of sick leave and disability than any other medical condition. The duration of a lower back pain episode can be either acute (less than 30 days) or chronic (more than 6 months of pain). The category between acute and chronic is termed sub-acute. Most cases of lower back pain are treatable through conservative measures and should show signs of improvement in the first few weeks.

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Causes of lower back pain vary from muscular or soft tissue sprains and strains, to other more serious conditions, such as a spinal tumor or herniated disc. Overexertion of the muscles in the lower back may lead to an injured or torn ligament that can cause lower back pain.

Intervertebral disc injuries such as a torn or herniated disc can occur because of either a traumatic injury or through the process of aging. As we age our spinal discs tend to shrink in size causing our facet joints and vertebrae to rub against each other causing lower back pain.

Diminishing ligament and joint functionality may also be the cause of lower back pain. This often leads to a condition called spondylolisthesis causing the vertebrae affected to collapse forward.

Other causes of lower back pain may include spinal stenosis, Piriformis syndrome, sciatica, scoliosis, osteoarthritis, degeneration of the discs, and rarely an infection or spinal tumor.

If you would like to learn more about these conditions please follow the links listed below.

  • Sciatica information
  • Spinal stenosis information
  • Lumbar disc herniation information
  • Piriformis syndrome information

Lower Back Pain Treatment

The majority of lower back pain episodes will either clear up with a little rest and relaxation, or through conservative methods. Surgery is rarely required for lower back pain treatment. But when left with the choice or either living the rest of your life with debilitating pain or undergoing a surgical procedure, many will chose surgery.

The first steps for lower back pain treatment begin with taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine, restoring the proper function and strength of the back, and finally learning how to prevent this injury from occurring again. The majority of patients who recover from lower back pain will not notice any residual function loss. If after 2 or 3 days you have not noticed a reduction in your pain through self-care, you should contact your doctor for an examination.

Lower Back Pain Treatment – Self-Care

Listed below are lower back pain treatment methods that you can perform from your own home. As stated above, if you do not experience pain relief after 2 or 3 days you should visit your doctor.

Lower Back Pain Treatment #1 – Ice & Heat
Following your injury you should apply a cold compress to the injured area. This will help to reduce inflammation that may be causing the majority of your pain. It is important to wait 48-72 hours before applying heat and to allow the inflammation to subside. You can use either a cold pack, ice wrapped in a towel, or a frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a towel to apply the cold to your injury. When the inflammation has been reduced, you may begin to apply heat to the area. Heat increases blood flow to the area and encourages healing. You can use a hot towel, take a warm shower, or use a heating pad to apply heat. It is important not to leave either heat or cold on your skin for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Ice on your skin for extended periods of time may cause frostbite, and heat on your skin for too long may lead to burns.

Lower Back Pain Treatment #2 – Bed Rest
Although initial bed rest may be advantageous to the patient, extended bed rest could lead to secondary injuries that could further complicate your condition. Studies have shown that patients who have limited their bed rest appear to have more flexibility in their back, whereas those who spent up to a week in bed had worse pain and were more susceptible to secondary conditions such as depression, muscular atrophy, and blood clots in the legs. It is recommended that patients resume activity as soon as they can, but keep the intensity level to a minimum.

Lower Back Pain Treatment #3 – Medication
Lower back pain treatment is often achieved by using a combination of medication and other treatments mentioned above. Effective pain relief can be achieved through a combination of prescription drugs, and over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). It is important to always check with your doctor before taking these drugs because some of the drugs may be unsafe to take while pregnant or may conflict with other medications you are taking, and some can lead to stomach conditions or liver damage if taken for extended periods of time.

Lower Back Pain Exercises

Lower back pain exercises can be one of the most effective ways to speed up your recovery if done properly. Lower back pain exercises will help to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles that provides stability for your spine. If you don’t know where to begin it is important to consult with a trained professional. The Internet is a great place for information, but it should never be used to replace the advice that a professional gives you. Doctors and physical therapists will be able to provide you with a list of gentle lower back pain exercises that are specific to your individual circumstances. Your routine may include activities such as stretching, swimming, walking, and movement therapy to help you develop better posture and improve muscle coordination.

When first beginning these exercises you may feel some discomfort but this should begin to lessen as your muscles start to grow stronger. It is important that you stop your exercises and contact you doctor if the discomfort is more than mild pain and lasts for more than 15 minutes; You could be either doing something incorrectly, or the exercise may be too advanced for your condition.

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