More than two thirds of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Companies are really struggling to deal with so many missed work days due to back pain, which is now probably the leading reason for people not showing up at work. It equally affects men and women, but the intensity ranges from a dull, constant ache to sudden, sharp sensations. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of low back pain and how to prevent or deal with it.
What causes it?
Most low back pain is mechanical in nature. It is often related to the general degradation of the spine associated with normal wear and tear in the joints, discs and bones of the spine. Still, it can be a consequence of sprains and strains, when ligaments are overstretched or torn or when a tendon or a muscle gets torn. In real life, that happens when we lift something too heavy or overstretch.
Low back pain can also result from problems related to discs, which might lose integrity as a normal process of ageing or could be herniated or ruptured. Additionally, a spinal root nerve could become compressed, inflamed or injured. Then there is traumatic injury, such as from playing sports, having car accidents or falling. Such injuries can cause the spine to become overly compressed, which might lead to disc rupture. Finally, we might be talking about skeletal irregularities, such as scoliosis, lordosis and other congenital anomalies of the spine. This list of potential causes is much longer and only a specialist can identify the real one.
What are the risk factors?
Many things influence the appearance of low back pain. Age is probably the most common one, as senior people are more likely to develop the pain because of loss of bone strength. Next, fitness level plays an important role, with those not physically fit being much more likely to develop back pain. If back and abdominal muscles are not strong enough to support the spine, back pain and injuries are only a matter of time. Weight gain, either through pregnancy or a bad diet, can also be a common cause and so can genetics. Finally, there are occupational risk factors, with those who have to lift, push or pull at work being particularly vulnerable.
The treatment depends on many factors. The last resort is spinal surgery, which only specialist surgeons, such as the reputable Dr Timothy Steel, can perform. Still, before you schedule a surgery, you have to have the right diagnosis which is the key to a successful treatment. Many factors influence the diagnosis. The pain could be acute or chronic, the patient in great or poor physical condition and there might be other limiting factors including allergies to medications such as analgesics. That’s why you first need to have the right diagnosis set, which takes into account all the contributing factors before the best treatment can be chosen.
As always, it’s best to focus on preventing back pain in the first place and there is quite a lot you can do about it. To begin with, watch your weight and be careful with your movements. If you’re planning to do some sports, make sure you warm up properly and stretch your muscles afterwards. Also, your bed might be very uncomfortable and lead to the problem becoming more serious, in which case you should definitely replace the mattress. Some people use various types of lumbar support, such as wide elastic bands that can be tightened to provide support to the lower back and abdominal muscles, though many recent studies are questioning their efficiency. What all experts agree on, though, is that regular physical activity is the best method.
Keeping our back pain-free is very important, not only for our physical but also mental health. Constant, excruciating pain is bound to affect how we feel and can easily lead to other disorders. So, give your back the attention it deserves and don’t put too much pressure on it.