If truth be told, lower back pain is a universal human experience—everyone has had it at one point or another.
The condition is extremely common among adults between 30 and 50 years of age. The severity can range from acute to chronic.
Prevalent causes of back pain include nerve irritation, spinal abnormalities (i.e. spinal stenosis or slipped disk), and muscle spasms and pulls.
Depending on the severity, symptoms can range from dull ache to shooting or stabbing sensation. In some instances, individuals with the condition will experience pain when moving or standing up.
Cases of acute lower back pain are often attributed to injuries from heavy lifting or sports. If the pain persists after 72 hours, seeing an orthopaedic specialist would be recommended.
If the pain lasts for more than 3 months, it is already considered chronic.
For those who experience severe back pain after an injury or fall, seeking immediate medical help is a must.
Other alarming symptoms to look out for should include:
- Leg weakness
- Pain when urinating or coughing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Many individuals experience lower back pain in their 30s. Occurrence will often increase as one ages. Other factors can also increase one’s risk of getting lower back pain. Some of these factors are:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Works that involve heavy lifting
To accurately diagnose the cause of the pain, orthopaedic specialists would most likely ask the following questions:
- What is the pain like?
- When did it start?
- What are the symptoms?
- Do you have any history of chronic back pains?
Course of treatment for back pain will often depend on the severity and the cause of the condition. Some of the most prevalent means of managing back pain include:
In mild cases of lower back pain, minimizing the level of activity (at least for a couple of days) would often suffice. Lying on the back with a pillow under the knees will also help as it will put the back in a neutral position.
Lying on the floor with the knees propped on a chair and bent at an angle of 90 degrees might also help.
Ice or heat
Evidence suggests that utilizing ice and heat packs can significantly minimize pain and increase mobility.
Wrapping a bag of ice in a towel and placing it on the painful area has been known to help reduce the inflammation. You can repeat the procedure several times a day, at least for 20 minutes each time.
You can also try heat treatment if that is what you prefer by using a heating pad or taking a warm bath. The warmth will work by loosening the tight muscles that might be the reason for the pain.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen are effective in minimizing pain and swelling secondary to back pain.
However, if the condition is caused by disk problems or nerve compression, OTC medications won’t be of much help.
If the pain persists after days of rest, cold and hot compresses, and OTC analgesics, a visit to an orthopaedic specialist should be in order.
While surgery for severe back pain is not often required, it may become the likely option when all other remedies have failed.
Small disk fragments that may have disintegrated are surgically removed to eradicate the pressure on the nerve paths.
In the case of abnormal or injured vertebrae, it may be fused together to help the patient regain mobility.
Back surgery is often the last resort unless there is loss of bladder or bowel control, neurological loss, and if all other noninvasive treatments have not worked.