Lower back pain is incredibly common in the human population. An estimated 80% of people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their life. That means that if you think of ten people you know, eight of them will at some point experience the discomfort and inconvenience of lower back pain. Lower back pain is even said to be the cause of more days of sick leave than any other medical ailment.
Lower back pain, or lumbago, describes the condition of having pain for an extended period of time, at some point in their lower back. Lower back pain can strike from the very end of the spine, at the coccyx or it can affect the sacroiliac joint. When Lower back pain afflicts the sacroiliac joint, it can be called sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
The causes of lower back pain can be many and varied. They range from trauma, to arthritis, to vertebral fractures. Rarely, lower back pain can even be caused by infections of tumors. Most cases of lower back pain are not the result of dangerous medical conditions such and infections of cancer, though. The majority of people suffering from lower back pain experience it due to benign causes. These are called “non specific low back pain,” and they are most often caused by sprains or muscle strain in the lower back. One way to know if this is probably the cause of lower back pain is to consider when the pain began. If your lower back pain started during or shortly after some physical activity which put strain on the lower back, then this is probably the cause.
Other causes for lower back pain include: congenital deformation, different leg lengths, misaligned pelvis, restricted hip motion, degenerative discs, a slipped disc and depression. Lower back pain which lasts for less than six weeks is considered acute, while lower back pain which lasts for longer than three months is considered chronic.
Most doctors prefer conservative treatments for acute lower back pain. Pain medications, such as NSAID pain relievers, may be prescribed for lower back pain. Other doctors may prescribe muscle relaxers. In most cases, doctors feel that remaining physically active is best with lower back pain. Bed rest has not been found to provide quicker recovery from acute lower back in these situations, while generally speaking, continued regular exercise did. Spinal manipulation for lower back pain is not generally recommended.
For chronic lower back pain, exercise has also been shown to be somewhat effective. Proper exercise and activity can be slightly effective at improving lower back pain in these cases. Other treatments for chronic lower back pain may include antidepressants, acupuncture, behavior therapy, The Alexander Technique, and when these more conservative treatments fail, surgery. All of these treatments have been observed to improve lower back pain in trials.
Massage, heat therapy and yoga may also help some people treat their lower back pain. For some people, treating lower back pain may be as easy as inserting a corrective insert into a shoe to accommodate slightly different lengths of legs.
Regardless of treatment, most lower back pain patients saw a full recovery over the course of several weeks. Significant improvement almost always followed within the weeks after applying conservative treatment measures. Lower back pain is very common, and generally those who suffer from it recover with time, and without long term harmful side effects. However, back pain may return again at some point in the future, as a result of the common place nature of this kind of disorder. Around one quarter of people surveyed reported lower back pain within the last three months.