What is lower back pain?
Lower back pain can happen anywhere below the ribs and above the legs. It is possible to hurt your back when you lift, reach, or twist. In fact, almost everyone has lower back pain at one time or another.
What causes lower back pain?
Causes of lower back pain include:
- Overuse, strain, or injury.
- Herniated disc.
- Compression fractures.
- A spine problem you were born with.
What are the symptoms?
Depending on the cause, lower back pain can cause a range of symptoms. The pain may be dull or sharp. It may be in one small area or over a broad area. You may have muscle spasms.
Lower back pain can also cause leg symptoms, such as pain, numbness, or tingling, often extending below the knee.
Seek treatment if you have weakness or numbness in both legs.
How is lower back pain diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions about your past health, symptoms, and activities. He or she will also do a physical exam. Your answers and the exam can help rule out a serious cause for the pain. In most cases, doctors are able to recommend treatment after the first exam.
Tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are usually recommended if the doctor suspects your lower back pain maybe more than muscle pain.
How is it treated?
Most lower back pain will improve with rest and oral medicines.
Walking is the simplest and maybe the best exercise for the lower back. It gets your blood moving and helps your muscles stay strong.
You may need physiotherapy to strengthen your muscles or improve your posture so as to lower your chance of injury. Your doctor can recommend more specific exercises to help your back muscles get stronger.
If your symptoms are severe, see your doctor. You may need stronger pain medicines, or you might benefit from epidural injection.
How can you prevent lower back pain from returning?
After you’ve had lower back pain, you’re likely to have it again. But there are some things you can do to help prevent it. And they can help you get better faster if you do have lower back pain again.
To help keep your back healthy and avoid further pain:
- Practice good posture when you sit, stand, and walk. “Good posture” generally means your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line.
- Get regular, low-impact exercise. Walk, swim, or ride a stationary bike. Stretch before you exercise.
- Sleep on your side.
- Watch your weight.
- Don’t try to lift things that are too heavy for you. When you must lift, learn the right way to lift.
If you sit or stand for long periods at work:
- Sit or stand up straight, with your shoulders back.
- Make sure your chair fits you and has good back support.
- Take regular breaks to walk around.