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Lower Back Pain

Lower Back Pain

Everything about lower back pain

Lower back pain is a common symptom. It affects over one-third of the adult population in the United Kingdom each year. Around 20% of these people (1 in 15 of the population) will see a doctor about their back pain.

The majority of lower back pain is caused by an injury, such as muscle sprains or strains caused by rapid movements or poor lifting mechanics.

Lower back discomfort can also be caused by a variety of illnesses, including:

  • Spinal cancer. A type of cancer that affects the spinal cord.
  • A herniated or ruptured disc
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Infected kidneys
  • Spine infections

Acute lower back pain can persist from a few days to a few weeks, whereas chronic back pain lasts for more than three months.

Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 are more prone to experience low back pain. This is due in part to the changes that occur in the body as people age. The fluid content between each vertebra in your spine decreases as you get older.

This means that discs in the spine are more susceptible to inflammation. You also lose muscular tone, making your back more vulnerable to injury. Maintaining proper body mechanics and strengthening your back muscles can help you avoid low back pain.

Symptoms of lower back pain

A mild discomfort, stabbing or even a shooting sensation are all possibilities of lower back pain. You may find it difficult to move or stand up straight due to the pain. Acute pain is pain that occurs suddenly. It could arise as a result of sports or heavy lifting. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months. If your pain persists beyond 72 hours, you should see a doctor.

Diagnosis of Lower Back Pain

To discover where you’re experiencing pain, your doctor will likely ask for a detailed medical history and do a thorough physical examination. A physical examination might also reveal whether or not pain is limiting your range of motion.

Your reflexes and responses to particular stimuli may also be tested by your doctor. This establishes if your nerves are being affected by your low back discomfort.

Unless you have alarming or incapacitating symptoms or neurologic loss, your doctor would most likely keep an eye on your situation for a few weeks before recommending tests. This is because the majority of low back pain may be treated with basic self-care techniques.

Certain symptoms necessitate further investigation, such as:

  • Bowel incontinence
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Weight reduction

If your low back pain persists despite home treatment, your doctor may need to request more testing.

If you have any of these symptoms in addition to low back pain, seek medical help right away.

Your doctor may order imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs to check for:

  • Bone disorders
  • Issues with discs
  • Difficulties with your back’s ligaments and tendons

A bone scan or a bone density test may be ordered if your doctor suspects an issue with the strength of your back bones. Nerve conduction testing or electromyography (EMG) can assist discover any nerve issues.

Common causes for lower back pain

Strains and sprains

Excessive activity can stretch or tear the muscles and ligaments of the back. Lower back discomfort and stiffness, as well as muscular spasms, are common symptoms. These symptoms can be treated with rest and physical treatment.

Disc injury

Back discs are vulnerable to injury. With age, this risk increases. The disc’s outer layer can tear or herniate.

When the cartilage surrounding the disc pushes against the spinal cord or nerve roots, it causes a herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc. The cushion between the vertebrae of the spine expands beyond its natural location.

As the nerve root exits the spinal cord and passes through the vertebral bones, it may be compressed. After lifting anything or twisting the back, disc damage usually happens suddenly. A disc injury, unlike a back strain, causes pain that lasts longer than 72 hours.

Sciatica

If a herniated disc presses on the sciatic nerve, it can cause sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs from the spine to the lower extremities. As a result, sciatica can cause leg and foot pain. Burning or pins and needles are common sensations associated with this discomfort.

Spinal stenosis

When the spinal column narrows, it puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, causing spinal stenosis.

Degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Bony spurs or soft tissues, such as discs, pressure the nerve roots or spinal cord as a consequence.

Symptoms of pressure on the spinal nerves include:

  • Cramping
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

These symptoms might occur anywhere on the body. When standing or walking, many persons with spinal stenosis realise that their symptoms intensify.

Curvatures of the spine that are abnormal

Scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis are all conditions in which the spine curves abnormally.

These are birth defects that are usually discovered during childhood or adolescence. Because it puts strain on the following areas, the aberrant curvature causes pain and poor posture.

  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Vertebrae

Other Conditions

Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions. These circumstances include:

  • Arthritis is a condition in which the joints become inflamed.
  • Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the joints, muscles, and tendons.
  • Spondylitis is an infection of the joints that connect the bones of the spine.
  • Spondylosis is a degenerative condition in which normal spinal structure and function are lost. Although the disorder is caused mostly by age, the location and rate of degradation are unique to each person.

Lower back pain can also be caused by the following health conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Cysts ovarian
  • Endometriosis
  • Problems with the kidneys and bladder
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterine fibroids

 

When to seek urgent care

If you suffer lower back pain after a fall or accident, you should see a doctor. If you have back discomfort, bowel or bladder control issues, leg weakness, fever, or pain when coughing or peeing, you should see a doctor.

Lower Back Pain Treatment

Self Care

For the first 72 hours after the discomfort begins, self-care techniques are beneficial. Call your doctor if the pain does not better after 72 hours of home treatment.

For a few days, avoid typical physical activities and administer ice to your lower back. Doctors advise utilising ice for the first 48 to 72 hours before transitioning to heat.

To relax muscles, alternate between ice and heat. Within the first 48 hours, the RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is advised.

To ease pain, take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Lying on your back might sometimes be more uncomfortable. If that’s the case, try resting on your side with a pillow between your legs and your knees bent. Place a pillow or rolled-up towel beneath your thighs if you can comfortably sleep on your back to relieve strain on your lower back.

A warm bath or massage might help to ease stiff and knotted back muscles.

Medical treatment

Low back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • Muscular weakness and tension
  • Nerves pinched
  • A misaligned spinal cord

A variety of medical therapies are available, including:

Based on your symptoms, your doctor will establish the proper dosage and use of treatments and medications.

Your doctor may prescribe the following medications:

  • Musculoskeletal relaxants
  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Narcotic pain relievers, such as codeine
  • Anti-inflammatories steroids
  • injections of corticosteroids

Physical therapy may be prescribed by your doctor, which may include:

  • Massage
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening workouts
  • Manipulation of the back and spine

Surgery

Surgery may be required in extreme situations. Surgery is usually only considered when all other options have failed. Surgery becomes an emergency possibility if bowel or bladder control is lost, or if neurological damage progresses.

A discectomy removes pressure on a nerve root that has been forced on it by a bulging disc or a bone spur. A little section of the lamina, a bony part of the spinal canal, will be removed by the surgeon.

A foraminotomy is a surgical operation that opens the foramen, the bony opening in the spinal canal through which the nerve root leaves.

IDET Intradiscal electrothermal therapy  –  is a procedure that involves introducing a needle through a catheter into the disc and heating it for 20 minutes. This thickens the disc wall, reducing the bulging of the inner disc and nerve irritation.

A nucleoplasty involves inserting a wand-like device into the disc through a needle. The inner disc material can then be removed. The tissue is then heated and shrunk using radio waves.

Radiofrequency lesioning or ablation is a technique that involves using radio waves to disrupt nerve communication. The nerves are destroyed by a surgeon inserting a specific needle into them and heating it.

Spinal fusion strengthens the spine and reduces uncomfortable movements. Discs between two or more vertebrae are removed during the surgery. The surgeon next employs bone transplants or specific metal screws to fuse the vertebrae together.

The lamina is removed during a spinal laminectomy, also known as spinal decompression, to increase the size of the spinal canal. The spinal cord and nerves are relieved of pressure.

Prevention of Lower Back Pain

Low back discomfort can be avoided in a variety of ways. If you have a lower back injury, using preventative techniques may assist to minimise the intensity of your symptoms.

Preventative measures include:

  • Abdominal and back muscles should be exercised
  • If you’re overweight, losing weight
  • By bending at the knees and raising with the legs, you can lift anything appropriately.
  • Maintaining a healthy posture

You might also consider:

  • Lie down on a firm surface to sleep.
  • Sit in comfortable chairs that are the right height.
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled footwear.
  • If you smoke, please try to stop.

Nicotine causes spinal disc degeneration and decreases blood flow.

Discuss your lower back pain with your doctor. They can determine the cause and assist you in developing a treatment plan that is right for you.

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