Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is the most common cause for a work-related disability and one of the main reasons for people staying home from work. The lower back is one of the most important parts of the body as it holds most of our body weight when we stand and is involved in movement when we bend or twist at the waist. Because of its pivotal role and frequent use, the lower back is susceptible to injury and chronic pain. Lower back pain is especially common in older adults who may have decreased bone strength and muscle elasticity. The spongy cartilage pads, called intervertebral discs, that allow for flexibility may wear away and weaken in an elderly person.

Causes of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can be a result of many different reasons including the following:

  • Muscle sprain, strain or spasm
  • Irritated nerve
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Poor posture
  • Sleep position

Pain may radiate down the legs as well.

Conditions Associated with Lower Back Pain

There are some conditions that cause lower back pain. They include:

  • Bulging disc
  • Sciatica
  • Degeneration of the spine
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Osteosporosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Spinal irregularity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Neuropathy
  • Spinal fracture
  • Deformity of the spine
  • Tumor

Diagnosis of Lower Back Pain

While lower back pain is a common condition, it may also be an indication of another condition which may be far more serious. After obtaining a medical history, the physician may conduct the following tests to confirm diagnosis and determine treatment:

  • X-ray imaging
  • Discography
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • EMG
  • Bone scan
  • Ultrasound

Treatment of Lower Back Pain

While lower back pain is not usually a serious condition, it can be very painful and debilitating. Treatment for this pain is usually simple and can include:

  • Medication
  • Ice
  • Heat
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Chiropractic spinal adjustment
  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Interventional therapy
  • Traction
  • Ultrasound
  • TENS
  • Surgery

For those people who suffer from lower back pain as a result of either improper body mechanics or a non-traumatic event, there are some ways to prevent lower back pain. Some of them include:

  • Stretching before exercising
  • Ensuring posture is correct
  • Good lumbar support when in a seated position
  • Wearing heels that are low and comfortable
  • Sleeping on your side to prevent a curvature of the spine
  • Not lifting objects that are too heavy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Quitting smoking