Back pain can affect your ability to sit, stand, walk, bend, drive, sleep, or lift. Unless controlled and managed with appropriate treatment, back pain may be a major obstacle when performing daily activities.
What is low back pain?
Current data predict that almost everyone will experience low back pain at least once in adulthood. Why? — Low back pain is a common musculoskeletal disease that affects up to 84% of the adult population. Lower back problems are described as muscle tension and pain under the ribs, buttocks, and upper thighs.
Back pain can be divided into multiple subgroups. Mechanical back pain is the result of injury to the spine and intervertebral discs. Infectious back pain is caused by spinal infections and tissue abscesses. Tumorous back pain is caused by damage to the spine and bone marrow cancer. Degenerative back pain is the result of osteoarthritis-joint degeneration. Inflammatory back pain is caused by acute or chronic inflammation, such as ankylosing spondylitis.
Low back pain can be acute or chronic. Acute pain usually lasts less than six weeks, while chronic pain usually lasts more than three months.
Common causes of lower back pain include muscle strain and tension, genetic predispositions, and minimal physical movement. Additional pain signals may be the result of stress, anxiety, depression, health history, exposure to chemicals, workplace hazards, and daily habits.
One study investigated the link between workplace risk factors and low back pain. Research results show that women and the elderly have an increased risk of low back pain. In addition, people who work more than 60 hours a week, have work-family problems, and work insecurity are more likely to suffer from lower back complications.
Acute low back pain is usually nothing to worry about. Over time, the pain may recur or fluctuate. Doctors may see certain symptoms as warning signs or “danger signs.” These symptoms include pain not related to any activity or time, weight loss, spinal deformity, previous history of HIV, cancer or steroids, foot pain more severe than back, and numbness in the area. X-rays and other imaging analysis tools can be used to effectively identify any underlying spinal or neurological diseases.
What is chronic low back pain?
Chronic low back pain is the most predictable cause of chronic pain, affecting men and women of all races. As the name suggests, this pain is defined as a sharp and/or throbbing tingling in the lower back area that lasts about 12 weeks.
The muscles of the lower back are extremely important for the stability of the spine and are the main factor affecting daily body functions. There are two sets of core muscles that stabilize the spine. The first category involves local stabilizing muscles, such as the polyfidus psoas and quadratus lumborum, which can achieve precise movement control. The second category involves overall stabilizing muscles, such as erector spinae and hip muscles that connect the ribs to the pelvis. These counteract the extra force on the spine by generating high torque, thereby stabilizing the spine.
What causes chronic low back pain? ——This question has not yet been answered, but current data show that the main causes of pain include weakening of the shallow trunk and abdominal muscles.
Pregnancy and low back pain
Pelvic pain and low back pain are two common low back pains during pregnancy. During pregnancy, pelvic pain occurs between the iliac crest and hip folds. Postpartum low back pain occurs near the lumbar spine.
Encourage pregnant women to use a footrest, use back support, and rest at noon. It is important to practice correct posture techniques during pregnancy to minimize the development of low back pain in the future.
Medications for low back pain
The difficulty of diagnosing low back pain makes clinical acquisition and treatment extremely challenging. This is why observing the symptoms and paying attention to acute low back pain can significantly help treat the pain. Most cases of back pain are not worthy of attention and can be treated with analgesics, the most common being non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are quick-acting drugs for the treatment of low back pain. They are competitive active site inhibitors of cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2). Cox-2 converts arachidonic acid into inflammatory prostaglandins-molecules that can cause pain. Essentially, NSAIDs block molecules that can cause pain. Common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, which can be used to control and relieve pain.
Muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine and metaxalone can also be used. These drugs can relieve pain and muscle cramps. All medicines have side effects. For the best treatment plan for low back pain, be sure to consult your doctor.
Non-drug treatment of low back pain
Non-pharmacological options for treating low back pain include regular physical exercise, chiropractic, behavioral therapy, acupuncture, ti chi, and yoga. According to current research, the most effective physical activity (appropriate duration and intensity) to control back pain is resistance training. In addition, obese people may find it beneficial to discuss with a dietitian how to control weight to prevent low back pain.
Thermotherapy (heating) and cryotherapy (cooling) are used to treat various back pains. Heat therapy (for example, using a heating pad) can increase blood flow and tissue temperature, thereby reducing muscle tension and alleviating pain. Cooling therapy (for example, using a cold pack) can reduce inflammation and tissue metabolism, helping to reduce muscle spasms and strains. Long-term ice or heating, such as more than 20 minutes, can cause skin damage, such as frostbite and ulcers.
Studies have shown that physical therapy exercises are extremely beneficial for the treatment of low back pain. The McKenzie method is one of the most effective physical therapy exercises to treat back pain. In the 1950s, Robin Anthony McKenzie designed a variety of spinal exercises. Some spinal extension exercises involved in the treatment of low back pain include standing lumbar extension, prone position with hand support, and prone position with elbow support.
Seeing a physical therapist to treat your long-term pain may be beneficial to your health. Current research continues to look for various options for the treatment of low back pain. Always consult a doctor for the best pain management plan.
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