What Causes Low Back Pain and How Can You Treat It?
Back pain is one of America’s most common health complaints, with approximately 80% of people experiencing it at least once throughout their lives. While low back pain is often associated with age, it can be caused by several factors including, lifestyle habits, injuries, and more.
Below, we list the primary causes of low back pain and the different treatments that people suffering from chronic or acute lower back pain may want to try out before resorting to surgery.
Causes of Low Back Pain
According to oaklandspinenj.com, low back pain occurs when there is damage to back muscles or ligaments. The most common causes of low back pain include;
The most common cause of back pain is muscle strain. Muscle strains occur when the muscles and ligaments in your lower spine are overstretched, which can result in pain, stiffness, or spasms.
If you have sciatica, then your low back pain could be caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down from the spine to the back of your legs. Even if it doesn’t seem serious, pinching or pressing on this nerve can cause intense low back pain.
Abnormal Spine Curvature
If you suffer from Kyphosis, Scoliosis, or Lordosis, there’s a high chance that it’s causing the low back pain. The conditions are responsible for the abnormal curvature as they usually affect ligaments, tendons, muscles and vertebrae.
Spinal stenosis is when the spinal column narrows, resulting in compressed nerve roots or spinal cord. Common symptoms of spinal stenosis include cramping, numbness, and weakness.
Other Health Conditions
Common conditions known to cause low back pain include arthritis, pregnancy, endometriosis, cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts.
How to Treat Low Back Pain
Home care is a great way to take some pressure off of your back. Common self-care methods used for treating low back pain include ice application and heat therapy relief.
For the first 48 hours, you can use the RICE technique (rest; ice, compress, elevate) to apply cold packs on areas where it hurts. Alternate with a warm bath to relax stiff muscles. If the pain doesn’t go away within 72 hours, you should consult your doctor.
Massage therapy can be very beneficial for those suffering from low back pain. When combined with other treatments such as medication and exercise routines, massage may improve the quality of life in patients by restoring them to their usual activities and lessening discomfort.
However, there are some limitations: it won’t be as effective for those who suffer from spinal complications or injuries because it focuses more on releasing muscle tension rather than fixing structural problems in your spine.
Spinal manipulation is a technique used by osteopathic physicians and chiropractors to relieve back pain. The patient’s spine will be manipulated by hand pressure to relax the irritated muscles and lessen the intensity of their discomfort. However, like massage therapy, spinal manipulation will only provide temporary relief but won’t treat underlying issues.
Yoga is a form of exercise that can help to strengthen the back muscles and improve posture. The poses, movements, and breathing exercises involved in yoga serve specific purposes: some strengthen your spine while others work on increasing flexibility or relaxing tension around it. As with any exercise program, care must be taken not to make things worse. Don’t overdo it or stay in one position for too long.
Acupuncture is a proven and effective treatment for chronic low back pain. For this procedure, fine needles are inserted into various points around the body to stimulate naturally occurring chemicals such as endorphins or serotonin that help to relieve pain.
Pain medications are a common way to treat chronic or acute low back pain. Doctors may prescribe any one of the following:
- Muscle relaxants that can help with muscle spasms in your spine and muscles
- Steroids to reduce inflammation
- NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, both available without a prescription at pharmacy counters
- Narcotic drugs, including codeine tablets embedded into capsule form together along with
- Topical sprays and creams to soothe pain and reduce inflammation
Injections are a common treatment option when it comes to treating low back pain. Epidural steroid injections work by reducing inflammation and relieving pressure on nerves to ease pain and discomfort. These medicine-filled syringes are only given short-term solutions, and they should not serve an extended period. Long-term administration has been shown not beneficial and could worsen the pain.
When all other treatment options fail, surgery may be used. Common surgical procedures for low back pain treatment include:
- Discectomy helps relieve pressure on the nerve root by removing part of its laminae to give it room for better movement and flexibility
- Radiofrequency lesioning or ablation is a common procedure for treating low back pain. It involves the use of radio waves to interrupt nerve communications. The surgeon inserts special needles into these nerves, which then get heated up until they’re destroyed; this effectively eliminates sensation
- Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a surgical procedure that involves inserting a needle through the catheter and heating up part of the disc for about 20 minutes. This makes your disc wall thicker, cutting down on any inflammation or irritation from within which may be causing pain
- Spinal fusion is a common surgical procedure that involves the removal of discs between the vertebrae before fusing them together with special metal screws or bone grafts. As a result, it cuts down on pain, and you end up with a stronger spine
How to Prevent Low Back Pain
a) Exercise regularly – Exercise is a great way to prevent low back pain. Physical activity can help you improve your health and fitness without straining the body.
There are two main types of exercises that people should try:
- Core-strengthening exercises
- Flexibility training
b) A healthy diet – Ensure your diet contains enough vitamin D and calcium, as they are necessary for bone health
c) Maintain an upright posture when standing or seated
d) Use your legs to lift heavy items, not your back.
f) Use ergonomic chairs to support your back if your job requires sitting for a long time
g) Quit smoking
Low back pain is a very common condition that can be caused by many different factors. It’s important to know what the cause of your low back pain might be so you can take appropriate steps for treatment.
The most common reason for low back pain is spinal muscle damage and other health conditions, but several treatments are available, including therapy, medications, and surgery. Exercising regularly and maintaining good posture will help prevent future occurrences of this painful ailment.