What is Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is pain and stiffness in the lower back. It is one of the most common reasons people miss their work.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is usually caused when a ligament or muscle holding a
vertebra in its proper position is strained. Vertebrae are segments of
bone which form the spinal column through which the spinal cord passes.
When these muscles or ligaments become weak, the spine loses its
stability, resulting in pain and stiffness. Because nerves reach all
parts of the body from the spinal cord, back problems can lead to pain
or weakness in almost any part of the body.
Lower back pain can occur if your job involves lifting and carrying
heavy objects, or if you spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one
position or bending over. It can be caused by a fall or by unusually
strenuous exercise. It can be brought on by the tension and stress that
cause headaches in some people. It can even be brought on by violent
sneezing or coughing.
People who are overweight may have low back pain because of the added stress on their back.
Back pain may occur when the muscles, joints, bones, and connective
tissues of the back become inflamed as a result of an infection or an
immune system problem. Arthritic disorders as well as some congenital
and degenerative conditions may cause back pain.
Lower back pain accompanied by loss of bladder or bowel control,
difficulty in moving your legs, or numbness or tingling in your arms or
legs may indicate an injury to your spine and nerves, which requires
immediate medical treatment.
Symptoms of Lower Back Pain:
- A sudden sharp pain in the back.
- Possible swelling or bruising over the area of the rupture.
- Difficulty in moving - bending forwards, sideways or straightening.
- The pain may be continuous or may occur only in certain positions.
It may be aggravated by coughing, sneezing, bending, twisting, or
straining during a bowel movement. The pain may occur in only one spot
or may spread to other areas, most commonly down the buttocks and into
the back of the thigh.
Treatment of Lower Back Pain:
- After the initial injury, apply heat from a electric heating pad or hot water bottle.
- Rest in bed on a firm mattress. Often it helps to lie on your back
with your knees raised. However, some people prefer to lie on their
side with their knees bent.
- Take some anti-inflamatory meditation.
- See a physical therapist who could provide a massage.
- Wear a belt or corset to support your back.
When can I return to my sport or activity?
The goal of any rehabilitation program is to return you to your sport
or activity as soon and as safely as possible. But, if you return too
soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage.
Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Returning to your
sport will be determined by your recovering ability, the soon your back
recovers, the soon you may return to your sport or activity. Returning
to your sport or activity is not determined by how many days or weeks
have passed since your injury occurred. In general, the longer you have
symptoms of the injury, the longer it will take you to get better.
It is important that you have fully recovered from your lower back
pain before you return to your sport or any strenuous activity. You must
be able to have the same range of motion that you had before your
injury. You must be able to run, jump and twist without pain.
What can I do to prevent Low Back Pain?
You can reduce the strain on your back by doing the following:
- Don't push with your arms when you move a heavy object. Turn
around and push backwards with your legs so the strain is taken by your
- Whenever you sit, sit in a straight-backed chair and hold your spine against the back of the chair.
- Bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight when you lift a heavy object.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects higher than your waist.
- Hold packages you carry close to your body, with your arms bent.
- Use a footrest for one foot when you stand or sit in one spot for a long time. This keeps your back straight.
- Bend your knees when you bend over.
- Sit close to the pedals when you drive and use your seat belt and a hard backrest or pillow.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent when you sleep or rest. It may help to put a pillow between your knees.
- Put a pillow under your knees when you sleep on your back.
- Raise the foot of the bed 8 inches to discourage sleeping on your
stomach unless you have other problems that require that you keep your
To rest your back, hold each of these positions for 5 minutes or longer:
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and put pillows under your knees.
- Lie on your back, put a pillow under your neck, bend your knees to
a 90-degree angle, and put your lower legs and feet on a chair.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and bring one knee up to your
chest and hold it there. Repeat with the other knee, then bring both
knees to your chest. When holding your knee to your chest, grab your
thigh rather than your lower leg to avoid over flexing your knee.
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