Lower Back Pain

What is lower back pain and what happens to cause this issue?

Lower back pain is an extremely common experience. Almost everyone experiences it at some point in life. The lower back, starting right beneath the ribcage, is known as the lumbar region. Pain in this area can be intense and is one of the top causes of people missing work. On the upside, lower back pain often gets better on its own and if it doesn’t, there are many effective treatments. Symptoms of lower back pain range from a dull aching, to a stabbing or shooting pain. Acute lower back pain often comes on suddenly after an injury from sports or heavy lifting. Pain that lasts more than three months is considered chronic, and if the pain is not better within 72 hours, you should contact your doctor. Severe back pain after an injury should be checked immediately. Warning signs of onset lower back pain include losing control of bowel or bladder movements, weakness, fever, and/or pain when coughing or urinating. Experiencing any of these symptoms in combination with lower back pain means you should contact your doctor. If your job involves heavy lifting, or anything that puts stress on the spine, it could be the cause of your lower back pain. Sitting down all day for any reason also poses risks of its own, especially if you slouch. Wearing a heavy purse, backpack, or briefcase over your shoulder could also cause pain due to the lower back supporting the upper body. So an oversized bag can strain the lower back, especially if you carry it regularly. If carrying a heavy bag is common for you, consider switching to something lighter, or at least removing all unnecessary weight. Overworking your body at the gym or in sports is one of the most common ways that can lead to lower back pain, and you’re especially susceptible if you tend to be inactive during the work week and spend long hours at the gym at nights and on the weekend. One final cause could be a Herniated Disc. The vertebrae in the spine are supported by gel-like discs that wear and tear due to aging or injuries. A weaken disc could possibly rupture which would put immense pressure on the spinal nerve roots.

What does a typical physical therapy or orthopedic treatment look like?

Lower back pain from straining your muscles will usually get better on its own, but there are many steps you can take to make things more comfortable. Heat, such as a heated pad or warm water may provide temporary pain relief. But if the problem is muscle strain, your doctor should recommend returning to your normal activities as soon as possible. Many studies show that any more than one or two days of rest can actually increase the pain and may reduce muscle structure and flexibility. Many chiropractors and some doctors use a type spinal manipulation to treat lower back pain and apply pressure with their hands to bones and surrounding muscle tissues, however, this is not appropriate for everyone. Mild lower back pain often gets better with over-the-counter pain relief medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. However, for severe pain, your doctor may recommend prescription medication.

Is there a recovery time before it’s gone or does it have lingering effects?

Low back pain can also do damage to your mental health. Feelings of fear, frustration, anger, depression, and anxiety sometimes occur because of chronic pain. These reactions can often cause the pain to be more intense or even last longer.

What are the orthopedic consequences of not treating lower back pain?

It is important to act if you feel these symptoms, and after treatment allow the back to rest. Ignoring this could lead to more permanent damage to your back, and ultimately lead to a disability.

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