You’d be surprised to know backache is the most common reason for visiting a doctor, after cold and flu. And over sixty-five million people in the US alone would vouch for that! Of these, who suffer from backaches, especially lower back pain, fifty percent will suffer another occurrence within the year!
Why does lower back pain occur?
The common belief that lower back pain occurs because of the inflammation of lower back muscles is false. The cause of lower back pain is actually the irritation of the nerve root near the spine. This nerve, which emerges through the openings between the vertebras, gets pinched and inflamed, giving rise to this condition.
How can lower back pain occur?
The reason for almost eighty percent of the cases remains unknown! However, researchers do know that sudden movements, strenuous activities, lifting heavy objects, or injury are its leading causes. Let’s see what the other reasons are:
a. Slipped disc: The disc is a soft flexible tissue with a rigid outside rim and a soft, gel-like center that acts as padding for the vertebras. Together they act as shock absorbers to protect the spinal cord. A slipped disc happens when the disc between the bones bulges and presses on the nerves (1). This may cause mild to moderate lower back or leg pain.
b. Disc degeneration: Disc degeneration or osteoarthritis is age-related and is caused by the drying out of the discs. This makes them thick and less flexible, which is natural and not a problem in itself. However, at times, these discs begin to put pressure and irritate the nearby nerve roots giving rise to lower back pain.
c. Sciatica: Sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When this nerve is inflamed, it can cause lower right back pain or lower left back pain called sciatica. It can appear as mild tingling or sharp pain, severe enough to immobilize.
d. Lumbar spinal stenosis: This appears as a dull pain in the lower back and weakness in the legs and is caused when the canal that houses the spinal cord and nerve roots gets narrowed to put pressure on them. In this case, suffers find lower back pain relief only by sitting or standing in a hunched-over position.
e. Spondylolisthesis: Spondylolisthesis is another form of spine degeneration and is caused by the overlapping of one vertebra over the other, resulting in stretching and pinching of the sciatic nerve, resulting in lower back pain symptoms.
What to do about lower back pain?
A lower back pain resulting from a fever or injury due to accident warrants immediate medical attention. However, if it’s not due to these, you can afford to wait for the condition to improve, before visiting a physician. During this time adopt a comfortable posture to relieve the pain and restrict strenuous activities.
According to physicians, “mild cases of back pain often respond well to rest or anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. Other conservative treatments include physical therapy, steroid injections, traction, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, acupuncture, heat/ice, massage and whirlpool” (2). However, if there’s no improvement or the pain worsens, visit your physician immediately.
The physicians generally evaluate lower back pain through medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. According to researchers, “…an acute episode, back pain can be very severe for a few days or a week, and then will often improve. By two weeks to four weeks, the large majority of people are much better” (3).
Lower back pain can prove a torture of the worst kind. However, if you ever get afflicted with it, don’t take matters into your hand. Always trust your physician to get total relief from lower back pain.
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