Low back pain refers to the pain felt in the lower region of the back where the bones are supporting the spine. Lower back is that area of the body that holds the maximum weight of the body. 80 percent of the population in every country complains of low back pain. The sensation of pain differs from individual to individual. For some the pain may achy, for some it may be a dull or sharp pain or stabbing or tingling sensation.
Chronic pain may result from different factors. Majority of the lower back pain originate from musculoskeletal problems, soft tissues, sprains and strains of ligaments, tendons and muscles. The pain is felt when the affected parts of the lower back sends signals through the nerve ending via spinal cord to the brain. The medical experts believe that the nerve pathways carrying signal to the brain become active and increases the frequency of pain signals. As a result the intensity of the pain is amplified and felt greater than the pain from the original injury. Therefore, patients with chronic pain continue to feel the painful sensations even after the treatment is complete.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
The causes of pain in the lower back pain are usually he following:
- Spine cancer
- Fracture in the spinal cord
- Spinal stenosis
- Strains or tears in the muscles or ligaments
- Disc herniation
- Infection in the spine
- Kidney infection
- Pressure on the spine due to pregnancy
If a proper evaluation of the lower back pain is to be done one needs to keep track of the nature of symptoms. Mild pain goes away with time but if the pain is the severe an individual may experience the following.
The Signs of Low Back Pain
The primary symptoms of low back pain are:
- The pain gets aggravated with movements
- Pain spreads out to the front, side or back of the leg
- The pain gets worse with prolonged siting or at night
- Feeling of numbness or weakness in the leg
- Inability to raise your big toe upwards
- Inability to plant the foot down on the ground or flex it.
If you are experiencing the above symptoms it is time to approach your physician and get medical help for your lower back pain. However, some patients may need immediate emergency help.
Some of those patients are:
- Recent serious accidents such as sudden fall, vehicle accident etc.
- People over 50 experiencing mild trauma such as slipping and landing on buttocks
- People with a history of prolonged steroid usage
- Elderly women with a history of osteoporosis
- People over 70 years of age or with a previous history of cancer.
The first step in learning how to get relief for lower back pain is to undergo the diagnostic tests that will confirm exactly what kind of treatment is required.
If you are suffering from back pain for a long time the doctor will perform the following tests: X-ray, CT scan and MRI are the imagery tests of the lower spine. These images will help in detecting abnormalities in the bones and other deformities if present. However imaging tests are avoided for patients who are suspected of carrying tumors in their back. Blood tests for CBC may be done to detect the presence of white blood cells. Blood test for C-reactive protein may also be done to check if there is any inflammation in the body. Electromyogram is often done to check electric impulses that help in determining the extent of nerve root damage.
Curing Lower Back Pain
There are few self-help steps that patients must know in how to get relieffrom lower back pain. For the first few days one should stop doing normal activity to help reduce the pain. Applying heat or icepack to the affected area for the first 48-72 hours also helps. Sleeping with a pillow under your knees or between your knees or lying on the side is helpful.
The doctor may prescribe few over the counter medicines such as Ibuprofen and acetaminophen which are known to be effective in healing extreme pain. Applying topical agents to the affected area such as deep-heating rubs may work on a temporary basis. Engaging in physical activity with one’s limits is very beneficial as opposed to prolonged rest. Since too much of rest may make the muscles inactive and disable movement.
There are few simple exercises one can performto keep the muscles active. Light aerobic exercises, walking, swimming and riding a stationary bike are some of the best ways to raise the level of blood flow to your back and quicken up the healing process. There are series of other exercises specifically designed for back pain and they can be done under the guidance of a physical therapist. Muscle strengthening exercises such as knee rolls, back stretches, pelvic tilts and deep abdominal breathing are some of them. Practicing yoga and meditation is another healthy way to treat your acute lower back pain.
The other ways in which back pain can be prevented are correcting one’s posture, wearing low heels, watching your weight and avoiding heavy physical work.