The Causes and Treatments for Low Back Pain

Updated 3/24/22

Back pain and back stiffness are very common complaints for people of all ages. There are many different causes of severe lower back and hip pain, so in order to get good answers, you’ll need to see a professional. At doctor’s offices and chiropractic clinics, medical professionals can examine your body and find the reason for your pain. They can look at your medical history as well, looking for reasons why you might be in pain. The causes of backache in female patients might be different from those in men, something the doctors will consider. After they examine you, they’ll find ways to eliminate the pain and keep it from coming back.

Since there are so many different causes of back pain, you’ll need to find a solution that works for yours. Once you have a chronic back pain differential diagnosis, your doctor can set up a customized treatment plan. This can involve many things, like physical therapy or medication. Once you start your treatment plan, give it some time to see if it works. If it doesn’t, your doctor will adjust it for you.

Who Is Affected by Low Back Pain?

A lot of people!  Nearly 1.5 million people around the planet have back problems.  More than 26 million people aged 20-64 have frequent back pain and it is the biggest cause of disability in people younger than 45.  Approximately 80% of people will suffer from low back pain in their lives. You really don’t have to look far to see who is affected by low back pain, it’s all around you.

What Causes Low Back Pain?  The Top Five Causes of Lower Back Pain

  1. Being overweight:  Most Americans are either overweight or obese. This doesn’t make a lack hurt but it increases the likelihood that a person will suffer from low back pain.  Losing weight may help alleviate back discomfort.
  2. Minor injuries such as strains and sprains: These can be caused by a variety of things from a too strenuous game of tennis to picking up a box wrong.  They can be very painful but should heal with a combination of light exercise, ice and heat applied to the area and some non-steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDs). Bed rest should be avoided as that can make it worse.
  3. Disc problems:  The spine has discs to cushion the vertebrae.  They can herniate and press on the spinal nerves causing pain in the back and pain that radiates down the leg.  As we age, discs also suffer degeneration that can be painful.
  4. Sitting too much and bad posture:  Sitting in front of a computer, which most of us do all day, is terrible for the back.  The combination of good posture and a strong core can help alleviate this pain..
  5. Osteoarthritis: When this occurs in the back, the bones rub together and cause pain.

Preventing Lower Back Pain

The best way to prevent lower back pain is exercise and a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping the muscles in the “core’ of your body strong and healthy is the best way to support your back.  Staying active and flexible gives the back more defenses when you play that extra hard tennis match or lift a heavy object (lift with your knees!).

What Are My Treatment Options?

The first step in treating lower back pain is to find the cause.  If you hurt your back, go to a doctor who specializes in treating back injuries. Back doctors can ascertain the severity of your injury and help you recover.

For most people, physical therapy and back exercises (don’t forget the cardio!) go a long way in alleviating lower back pain.  This will include strengthening the muscles that support the back and stretching to increase flexibility.  Some treat back pain with medications such as anti-inflammatories (steroids and NSAIDs), acetaminophen, muscle relaxers, narcotic pain drugs and sometimes anti-depressants. If conservative measures do not work, minimally invasive spine surgery can help.  Nowadays surgeons can make tiny incisions called “keyhole” incisions that leave only a small scar.  Most patients go home the same days and feel better within a few days (three to five is the average).

If when you hear the question, “Who is affected by low back pain?”, your response is, “Me!”, take heart, you are not alone and there are things you can do to make it better. For more information see this.

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