Lower back pain or lumbar area is a complex structure consisting of interconnected bones, joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles. The entire structure works together to offer support, flexibility and strength to our bodies. While the lower back is an amazingly well engineered structure of nature, the complex built is prone to injury and pain. Thus, it is no wonder that a huge number of people all over the world suffer from lower back pain. Well, a bit of pain now and then is no cause to worry. But, chronic lower back pain, especially when untreated can cause severe damage to your health, including affecting your mobility.
To understand the issue with a bit more depth, we are going to discuss all about lower back pain, symptoms, diagnosis and best treatment in this article.
Why Lower Back Pain Must Always be Monitored?
Lower back supports the weight of our upper body and ensures mobility for natural activities such as bending or twisting. The muscles located in lower back helps the hips in rotating and flexing while we walk. Nerves in this area work as sensory receptors for legs, pelvic and feet and power the muscles in these parts.
Thus, any injury in lower back has prolonged effects on your entire lower body and mobility. The fact that this part of the body features a significant amount of overlapping of spinal structure with muscles, ligaments and nerves make this area highly sensitive to injuries and pain.
So, if you are suffering from lower back pain of any degree, this calls for attention!
Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
Well, lower back pain symptoms can vary a lot, depending on the cause of the pain. The pain can have a sudden onset or may start as mild and grow severe with time. Depending on the root cause for the pains, the most common symptoms of lower back pain are as follows:
- Dull pain contained in lower back.
- Burning, stabbing pain that starts in lower back and moves to the back of the thighs or lower legs and feet. If it is accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations, you may be dealing with sciatica.
- Excruciating muscle spasm in the low back, as well as in hips and pelvis area.
- Server pain in low back after sitting or standing for long time.
- Pain and difficulty while standing up from a sitting position and walking.
Diagnosis of Lower Back Pain
In general, your physician will ask you several questions related to your overall health, activity level, sitting posture, sleeping position as well as a full medication history. In most cases, doctors administer a range of tests such as reflex test, leg raise test, motion test etc in her office to diagnose lower back pain.
However, in more severe cases, where the doctor may suspect spinal deformity or injury, she may prescribe imaging scans such as x-ray, CT scan, MRI or injection studies, to determine the actual cause of the pain as well as the level of deformity in the lower back area.
The best treatment for lower back pain depends on the severity of the situation. There are self-care, non-surgical and surgical treatments for lower back pain that your doctor may suggest depending on the diagnosis.
Self-care: This type of treatment is best for patients who have mild lower back pain due to age related wear and tear. Often simple lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, heat/ice therapy, short rest period etc. coupled with over-the-counter pain medication is enough to reduce the pain. Depending on your fitness level, your doctor may suggest you stretching, strengthening exercises or light aerobics to improve your back health as well as to promote overall wellness.
Non-surgical Treatment: This type of treatment aims at pain management and often goes hand in hand with physical therapy, which addresses the underlying cause of the pain. Muscle relaxants, prescribed pain medication, back braces, epidural steroid injects and inversion therapy are the most effective non-surgical treatment options for low back pain.
Surgical Treatment: Surgical treatment is only prescribed is the non-surgical treatment fails to improve the condition within 6 to 12 weeks. In cases of serious injuries or severe spinal deformities, surgery is often the best treatment for long-term recovery. However, doctors generally takes into consideration many factors such as how invasive the surgery is, the chances of success, the lifestyle of the patient, the required healing time etc before proceeding with the surgical treatment.
Now that you know everything about lower back pain, symptoms, diagnosis and best treatment options, it is time to pay attention to your lower back. Remember, if detected in the earlier stage, low back pain can be managed or even cured with self-care treatments only. So, if you are suffering from lower back pain of any degree, get in touch with your physician today and get the diagnosis done. When early detection is the key to full recovery, you cannot afford to take a chance!