It Is More Common Than You Think
Low back pain is so common that about 80% of U.S. adults have had it at least once in their lifetime. The annoying backache is second only to headaches as the most common complaint. Low back pain in people under the age of 45 is responsible for more missed days from work than any other medical condition. Interestingly, it also is one of the nation’s most costly health problems.
So Why is Low Back Pain Such a Problem?
• It is because of the lumbar region of the back bearing most of the body weight.
• It contains nerve roots that are most vulnerable to injury and disease.
• It has poor biomechanical structure
Risk factors associated with low back pain includes excess body weight, poor posture, cigarette smoke, lack of muscle tone, and stress. Working in occupations that require a lot of lifting, vibration like a jackhammer operator, and prolonged periods of sitting can cause low back pain.
It Is Often Due to Musculoskeletal Problems
The causes of low back pain due to musculoskeletal problems include:
1. Acute lumbar/sacral strain
2. Instability of lumbar/sacralarea
3. Osteoarthritis of the lumbar/sacral vertebrae
4. Disk degeneration
5. Herniation of disk.
There Are Two Classifications of Low Back Pain
Acute low back pain lasts less than four weeks. Acute low back pain is usually caused by an activity that causes it undue stress on the tissues of the low back. Other symptoms do not appear at the time of injury. They do appear later on because of increasing muscle spasms. One test to determine if it’s acute is a straight leg raise, which will cause pain in the lumbar region but not along the sciatic nerve. There is no need for an MRI or CT scan unless trauma or disease is suspected.
– Muscle relaxants
– Massage or back manipulation
– Daytime use of back brace
– Avoid activities that include lifting, bending, twisting, and prolonged sitting
Acute low back issues usually improve in about two weeks.
Chronic low back pain lasts more than 3 months or repeats itself in an incapacitating episode. The causes of chronic low back pain is different than that of an acute case. The following are some of the common causes:
• Lack of physical exercise
• Structural abnormalities
• Systemic disease, like cancer
• Prior injury
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the lumbar spine is found in patients over the age of 50. However younger patients with OA have the chronic back pain in both thoracic and lumbar region. Periods of inactivity increase discomfort of this ailment.
Treatment for chronic low back pain is similar to acute low back pain. Reducing the pain associated with the pain and participating in a back pain program are part of the treatment as well as ongoing medical care. Cold and damp weather may aggravate back pain, but rest and heat to the back will help this. Analgesics are prescribed to help alleviate the pain. Weight reduction is encouraged and mild activity each day. Surgery is indicated in patients with severe chronic low back pain who do not respond to conservative care.