Lower back pain is a universal problem that has been experienced by almost everyone at some point of his or her lives.
The lower back initiates below the ribcage and is called the lumbar region. Pain in the lumbar region can be intense and is one of the main causes of not going to work. Depending on the severity and/or cause of such pain, many times relief can found at the hands of a rehab professional such as a physical therapist or certified athletic trainer.
Small bones called vertebrae make up your spine. Your spine is also made of ligaments, nerves, muscles and intervertebral disks.
The vertebrae connect to form a canal which secures the spinal cord. Three sections form the spinal column and make up three curves in the back:
- The neck area (cervical)
- The chest area (thoracic)
- Lower back area (lumbar)
The lower section of the spine or the lumbar region is made with vertebrae that are joined together. Lumbar therapy can take on many forms and, at the hands of a trained rehabilitation professional, can restore function and alleviate symptoms.
Back pain varies from person to person. The pain may develop gradually or occur suddenly. However, in some cases back pain disappears on its own within a short period.
There are many causes of lower back pain. Sometimes back pain may occur because of movements of the spine such as from lifting or bending. Aging is also another major cause for most back conditions.
As a person grows older, the spine experiences degenerative changes. These changes may occur during your 30s, or even when you are younger, thus, making you more susceptible to back pain especially due to strenuous activities. Treatment techniques for the aging population requires in depth training and education which can be earned through an accredited continuing education provider.
Some common causes of back pain include:
- Disk injuries such as disk tea and disk herniation (slipped or herniated disk)
- Over-activity causing muscles and ligaments to get overstretched
- Disk degeneration with age
- Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
- Spinal stenosis
Other causes of back pain include:
- A history of cancer
- A vascular or arterial disease
- Pain that is always present despite activity
Signs and symptoms
Back pain varies amongst individuals. It may be an achy, vague pain or it may be similar to a “charley horse” cramp. Usually pain depends on the underlying cause.
Common symptoms of back pain include:
- Back pain that worsens when you lift or bend
- Pain worsens when you sit
- Walking or standing for prolonged periods worsens pain
- Back pain fluctuates or comes and goes
- Sciatica or leg pain and pain in the buttocks along with numbness and tingling and weakness that travels to the foot
Treatment for lower back pain generally falls under three categories: medications, rehabilitation therapy and surgery.
Medications can be used to reduce pain. Patients normally use anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen to relieve pain and swelling. For severe cases, narcotic pain medications can be used.
Since lower back pain can be very disabling, medications can be combined with therapeutic treatments to make treatment more effective.
- Rehabilitation therapy: This includes heat therapy, ice therapy, massage, electrical stimulation and ultrasound. Active therapy includes stretching, cardiovascular exercises and weight lifting. These should only be performed by a skilled professional such as a physical therapist or certified athletic trainer.
- Exercises that help restore movement and strength of the lower back can also help relieve pain.
- Braces: Braces used for lower back pain resembles corsets and often cover the back and the stomach.
- Other exercises: Certain exercise forms such as yoga and Pilates may be beneficial to improve back pain.
Surgery should only be considered if conservative treatment proves to be ineffective. Most experts recommend trying nonsurgical treatment for about 6 months or even year, before you think about surgery.
The causes and symptoms of back pain are many and varied. Effective evaluation and treatment should always be performed by a rehab professional who has ample experience and training.
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