SUFFERING FROM LOW BACK PAIN?
There may be a number of reasons you feel pain in your lower back. Some people experience this type of pain as the result of an injury from playing sports, or they may have suffered a car accident. Even sitting the wrong way while you are working can lead to aches and strains. No matter the cause of your acute low back pain, seeking effective treatment options is crucial in order to maximize your quality of life.
Low back pain is not something that simply goes away. In fact, most patients experience chronic lower back pain that may persist for years. Even if you do feel relief every now and then, treating the underlying cause is highly recommended in order to prevent the injury from progressing.
At the Back Pain Clinic, we offer a personalized approach to diagnosing and treating low back pain in Belleville.
What causes lower back pain?
Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:
- Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
- Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions (such as spondylolysis or osteoporosis) increase the risk of fractures.
- Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae (small spinal bones). Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear (herniated disk). With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection (degenerative disk disease).
- Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
- Disease: Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysms.
- Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.
What are the symptoms of lower back pain?
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs (sciatica). If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a “pop” when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions (like bending over) and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice a decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand “crooked” or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
What are the Treatment Options?
Conservative treatment of back pain includes:
- Rest: You should take complete rest for 1-3 days, as more damage could result from putting pressure on the back. Prolonged bed rest should also be avoided as it leads to loss of muscle strength and makes the muscles stiff which will aggravate pain and discomfort. Hence bed rest should not be continued for more than 48 hours.
- Ice packs can be applied to the injury which will help to diminish swelling and pain.; Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes four times a day for several days. Never place ice directly over the skin.
- Braces or belts might be used to support the back while the healing happens.
- Medications that may be prescribed include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation. Other medicines such as muscle relaxants control muscle spasms.
- Your chiropractor may also suggest a rehabilitation program consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises, pelvic traction, gentle massages, and ice or heat therapy to improve your condition. It helps to control the pain, strengthen the abdominal muscles, and also speeds up recovery.
Can I prevent lower back pain?
You can’t prevent lower back pain that results from disease or structural problems in the spine. But you can avoid injuries that cause back pain.
To reduce your risk of a back injury, you should:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts pressure on vertebrae and disks.
- Strengthen your abdominal muscles: Pilates and other exercise programs strengthen core muscles that support the spine.
- Lift the right way: To avoid injuries, lift with your legs (not your back). Hold heavy items close to your body. Try not to twist your torso while you’re lifting.