Low Back Pain
What is low back pain?
pain is pain and stiffness in the lower back. It is one of
the most common reasons people miss work.
How does it occur?
pain is usually caused when a ligament or muscle holding a
vertebra in its proper position is strained. Vertebrae are
bones that make up the spinal column through which the
spinal cord passes. When these muscles or ligaments become
weak, the spine loses its stability, resulting in pain.
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.
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
who are overweight may have low back pain because of the
added stress on their back.
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.
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.
What are the symptoms?
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.
A low back
strain typically does not produce pain past the knee into
the calf or foot. Tingling or numbness in the calf or foot
may indicate a herniated disk or pinched nerve.
to see your health care provider if:
You have weakness in your leg, especially if you cannot
lift your foot, because this may be a sign of nerve
You have new bowel or bladder problems as well as back
pain, which may be a sign of severe injury to your
You have pain that gets worse despite treatment.
How is it diagnosed?
health care provider will review your medical history and
examine you. He or she may order x-rays. In certain
situations a myelogram, CT scan, or MRI may be ordered.
How is it treated?
following are ways to treat low back pain:
· Using a heating pad or hot water bottle.
Resting 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
Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory
medications; muscle relaxants; or other pain medications
if recommended by your health care provider.
Having your back massaged by a trained person.
Having traction, if recommended by your provider.
Wearing a belt or corset to support your back.
Talking with a counselor, if your back pain is related
to tension caused by emotional problems.
Beginning a program of physical therapy, or exercising
on your own. Begin a regular exercise program to gently
stretch and strengthen your muscles as soon as you can.
Your health care provider or physical therapist can
recommend exercises that will not only help you feel
better but will strengthen your muscles and help avoid
back trouble later.
pain subsides, ask your health care provider about starting
an exercise program such as the following:
Exercise moderately every day, using stretching and
warm- up exercises suggested by your provider or
Exercise vigorously for about 30 minutes two or three
times a week by walking, swimming, using a stationary
bicycle, or doing low-impact aerobics.
Participating regularly in an exercise program will not only
help your back, it will also help keep you healthier
How long will the effects last?
effects of back pain last as long as the cause exists or
until your body recovers from the strain, usually a day or
two but sometimes weeks.
How can I take care of myself?
addition to the treatment described above, keep in mind
Use an electric heating pad on a low setting (or a hot
water bottle wrapped in a towel to avoid burning
yourself) for 20 to 30 minutes. Don't let the heating
pad get too hot, and don't fall asleep with it. You
could get a burn.
Try putting an ice pack wrapped in a towel on your back
for 20 minutes, one to four times a day. Set an alarm to
avoid frostbite from using the ice pack too long.
Practice good posture. Stand with your head up,
shoulders straight, chest forward, weight balanced
evenly on both feet, and pelvis tucked in.
the best way to judge the pace you should set in increasing
your activity and exercise. Minor discomfort, stiffness,
soreness, and mild aches need not interfere with activity.
However, limit your activities temporarily if:
What can I do to help prevent low back pain?
reduce the strain on your back by doing the following:
your back, hold each of these positions for 5 minutes or
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.