Lower back pain is one health problem that almost everybody goes through in their life. The Healthy People 2100 study noted that 80% of Americans will experience at least one bout of lower back pain in their lives.Anyone that has experienced it knows that lower back pain is no laughing matter. It is the most common cause of missed work and job-related disability in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, lower back pain can strike anybody--the healthy and physically fit, the active and the inactive and person of any age. It also comes and goes suddenly that makes life extremely uncomfortable. So everyone needs to learn the needed information and be prepared to deal with lower back pain.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
The bad news is that there is no one cause of lower back pain; instead, there are many conditions and problems leading to it. The good news is these causes are treatable.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
- Any injuryor strain,even ones that occurred years ago, to your ligaments and other soft tissues, fractured bones or injury to the small joints on the back can lead to lower back pain.Exercise, heavy lifting, sports and hard works which can cause injuries and strains can lead to back pain. Injuries that change the way you walk, such as limps, can also create back pain.
- Pressure on the nerve roots. Strains and injuries can sometimes lead to herniated discs, which can put pressure on the nerve roots and create pain. Another related condition called spinal stenosis can also create the pressure by causing the overgrowth of bones, which leads to pain in other areas such as legs, buttocks, arms or neck.
- Arthritis or joint inflammation can cause lower back pain by making joints stiff and putting pressure on nerve roots. It can also change the way people walk, which can lead to lower back pain. Arthritis can also make pain from strains or injuries worse.
- There are some other serious health problems that can cause lower back pain, including ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, bacterial infections, and spinal tumors.
Risk Factors of Lower Back Pain
Although most people will have to deal with lower back pain sooner or later, some people are more at risk for it. Some risk factors that can increase your chances of a sore back include:
1. Underlying Health Conditions
- Health problems, such as chronic diseases that put a person in a poor physical condition.
- History of spine problems, such as osteoporosis;
- Back surgery at any point in your life;
- Any back injury at any point in your life, even decades ago;
- Carrying a baby puts a lot of pressure on the nerve roots;
- Persons over 40 are more likely to have back pain;
- Men are more likely to develop lower back pain;
- Family history of back pain. If a parent, grandparent, or sibling had a “bad back,” there’s a good chance you will inherit the condition;
2. Unhealthy Lifestyles
- Stress may hamper the body’s ability to heal itself and cause you to put more pressure on your spine.
- Bad posture, such as slouching or slumping, can put extra pressure on the spine and make pain worse;
- Being in poor physical condition, which leads to weak and stiff muscles which cause back pain by putting more pressure on the spine;
- Excess weight could put more pressure on the back;
- Smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke on a regular basis;
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle in which you do little or no exercise;
3. Other Risk Factors for Lower Back Pain
- Heavy lifting;
- Doing a job that requires a lot of sitting such as truck driving;
- Athletic activities that require bending, twisting, or repetitive motion;
- Any job or activity that requires repetitive motion, such as construction work;
- Exposure to excessive amounts of air pollution, such as smoke, vehicle exhaust, and noxious vapors.
How Is Lower Back Pain Treated?
The majority of cases of lower back pain will clear up on their own after a few weeks. If it isn’t caused by an underlying health problem, there are some things you can do to speed the recovery process.
1. Have Enough Rest
The most effective cure for lower back pain is plain old-fashioned rest and sleep. Try to sleep on your side and tuck a small pillow between your legs to provide extra support to support your lower back.
2. Correct Body Posture
Your mother is right: posture is important. Avoid slouching and sitting in stiff or non-ergonomic chairs, which encourage bad posture. If you work at a computer or a machine all day, consider switching to a standing workstation, which encourages good posture.Your posture is good if
- Your chest is upright and elevated;
- Your head is elevated and centered over your torso;
- Your shoulders are comfortable.
3. Try Ice Compresses
Cold constricts the blood pressure under the skin and reduces inflammation which causes lower back pain. You can buy ice packs to treat lower back pain at most drugstores. Or you may freeze a towel, fill a plastic bag with ice, or simply take a bag of frozen vegetables out of the freezer to create your own ice pack. Simply place it against your back for 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a day.
4. Apply Heat Compress
Heat is one of the best methods of relieving lower back pain. Some popular methods include taking a hot bath or shower for 15 minutes or simply putting a hot towel on your back. An electric heating pad works well, but you should never sleep on it in case it burns. Alternating between heat and cold compress could be more effective.
5. Stretch Your Back
Stretching is vital to recovery because it strengthens the muscles. So do some stretches or yoga moves a day to gradually cure your lower back pain.
Watch the following video to learn some simple stretching exercises for relieving your back pain:
6. Take Painkillers
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can help alleviate lower back pain by reducing inflammation. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen sodium (Aleve) all work well. When taking these drugs, you should always follow the instructions. Besides, don't give aspirin to children in case of brain and liver damage.
When to Seek Medical Help
You should consult a doctor about lower back pain if:
- The pain is accompanied by numbness, weakness or paralysis;
- The pain follows an accident or fall;
- The pain is so severe you can't move, walk or sleep;
- The pain keeps getting worse or last more than two weeks;
- You lose control of bladder or bowel movement;
- You experience painful urination.