Lower Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Lower Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

If you ask a group of people whether they have ever experienced lower back pain, chances are eight out of ten will have a positive answer. It seems that a condition that was once prevalent in the elderly is now getting more and more common among youngsters, and it’s easy to see why. When you look at an ordinary day of a person who works at a desk all day, you put two and two together. But how do you fix it? And is there any way to reverse the symptoms? Below, we will have a look at what causes the problem and what steps you can take to minimise the pain.

Why Does it Happen?

What makes the condition so tricky and difficult to diagnose, and therefore cure, is the fact that it can involve a vast group of problems resulting from malfunctioning joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other tissues in the area. The pain can range from mild to severe, chronic or acute. Occasionally, you will hear different terms like lumbago, sciatica, and spondylosis tossed around to refer to it, but the truth is no matter how you call it, it is debilitating, it restricts your movements, and sometimes it makes it impossible to tackle small jobs around the house or just sit still.

Some of these problems include:

  • Herniated disc. Each disc has a tough outer layer which is designed to keep the gel-like contents from pouring out. However, for different reasons, a tear might occur, letting the substance out and irritating the adjacent nerves. This causes weakness, numbness, and pain.  
  • Degenerative disc disease. This is a condition in which one or more vertebral discs begin to wear down and cause pain. Without enough hydration, they are not capable of resisting forces and due to that, the load is transferred onto the disc wall itself.
  • Spinal stenosis. It happens when the spinal canal narrows down and as it does, it exerts pressure on the nerve roots. The narrowing can be present at single or multiple levels and it can also be foraminal, central, or both.
  • Deformity. Sometimes the spine curves out of its normal alignment due to a birth defect, injury, ageing, bad posture, or previous spine surgery. Conditions like this include kyphosis and scoliosis. Pain is triggered when the deformity affects any of the joints or discs in the lower part of the back causing ruptures and breakdown.
  • Osteoarthritis. This is a condition in which the facet joints and discs begin to wear down, leading to instability, inflammation, and pain. It tends to progress slowly and is often associated with elderly people.

The good thing is the medicine and health services, in general, are getting better every year so pain and problems could be solved easily by just visiting some local Singapore clinic like PhysioActive. It's located in the very centre in Singapore, Orchard Branch at Camden Medical Centre and offers a wide range of physio treatments such as pelvic girdle & lower back pain treatment, exercise therapy, physiotherapy, thermal therapy with heat and cold, ultrasound therapy, and much more.

What Lower Back Pain Treatment is Available?

Medication

It has to be pointed out that medication alone does not help to treat any back pain. All it does is reduce inflammation and alleviate the symptoms. There are some that can be obtained without a prescription. Ask your doctor for guidelines on the type of drugs you should use.

Physical therapy

Lower Back Pain Treatment with Ice

When pain hits, it feels counterintuitive to take part in any physical activity. And that is correct as far as the first day is concerned. Even though you do need some bed rest, you shouldn’t forget that your body was made to move and adopting a sedentary lifestyle is no way to go. It will only make things worse. You can either do exercises at home or follow a specialised programme crafted by a therapist to suit your specific needs.

Surgery

In very severe cases, when nothing else appears to improve the condition or ease the pain, patients are recommended surgery. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and is only used as a last resort. There are different procedures that can be executed depending on what is causing the pain. For example, when it comes to a herniated disc, the problematic element can be removed so that it doesn’t put pressure on the nearby nerve root. You should have a discussion with your doctor regarding the best course of action. If necessary, go to several specialists.

What Exercises to Implement In Your Daily Regimen

  • Lie on one side with slightly extended legs, placing the top one behind the lower one. Put your top hand on the lower back muscle and apply pressure on it using your thumb. Lift your top leg as high as you can, now bend your knee and lower it down until it hits the ground in front of the other leg. Then, raise your leg away from the body trying to keep your big toe pointing down (this will allow more hip abduction). Repeat all steps 10 times.
  • Lie on your mat facing down. Your legs should be stretched out on the ground. Extend your arms outward in front of you, then raise them to create a gap between them and the floor. Now, as you are doing this, try to engage your core muscles by lifting your belly off the ground. Avoid straining your neck, make sure to keep your head straight. Hold for a few seconds and then go back to the initial position. Repeat 10 times. When you feel confident enough, try to hold the position a little longer.
  • Lie down on your back. Lift one leg and bend the knee. Get a fitness band or strap and secure it around the sole of your foot. Now slowly extend your leg upward (toward the ceiling), making sure you don’t carry it too far. As you pull back on the strap carefully, you should feel a gentle stretch that radiates from the heels to the lower back. If this feels like too much, bend your other knee as necessary. Hold this position for a minute and then repeat with the other leg.
  • Lie flat on your stomach. Inhale. Raise and extend one arm and the opposite leg at the same time as you are breathing out. Pull your bellybutton as hard as you can to ensure that your abs are involved as well. While inhaling, go back to starting position. Do it again on the other side. Repeat 10 times.

What Exercises to Avoid

Just as it is important to move, it is also vital that you do the right kind of movements. Not all exercises will help your back stay strong. In fact, some of them will do more harm than good. Take for instance standing toe touches. What they do is put unnecessary stress on the ligaments and discs in your spine, overstretching the hamstrings and muscles. In the case of lower back pain, this can certainly aggravate the condition. Other exercises you want to steer clear of include leg lifts and sit-ups, and the reasons from above apply here too.

Taking Care of Your Back

Woman with lower back pain sitting and meditating

Your back pain is not a result of a single activity or bad choice, even though it may appear to be so. You probably created the perfect conditions for ache and discomfort a long time ago by consistently maintaining a bad posture or doing certain tasks the wrong way. Repeated misuse and lack of awareness of your own body can take their toll. No treatment you adopt will be effective if you carry out with your old habits. You may need to make modifications to your activities so as not to strain your back anymore.

Lift stuff with care

You know what they say - it is not recommended to lift heavy things, as this may hurt your back. However, it is not purely about the weight of the object you are dealing with - rather it is about how you are performing the task. Most people tend to hunch over the load using nothing but their back muscles to get the job done, instead of engaging their limbs more.

The correct way to carry out this job is to squat close to the item keeping your head up and your back straight. Now begin to slowly go back into standing position by using your legs to push yourself from the ground all the while holding the object firmly with your hands. Try to place all of the weight on the muscles of your arms, as this will help to keep your back intact.

Stay aware of your posture

Keep your chest open, shoulders back. When sitting at a desk, make sure to adjust the height of the seat adequately so that your knees are equal to your heaps or a little lower than that. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Both your lower and upper back need to be supported. Try not to slouch in your chair or hunch back. If you are not used to sitting correctly, you may find it challenging to adopt the right posture at first and it may even feel awkward. Yet, with the time you will start to see a difference.