In many cases, lower back pain is not caused by something serious and tends to go away on its own after a while and with adequate rest. However, there are instances in which it should absolutely not be ignored.
Below we will be discussing the wide variety of causes of lower back pain, what to look out for, and how to address the problem, based on the intensity of your symptoms, as well as their trigger points.
If you suffer from back pain that is serious in nature, make sure you seek medical help as soon as possible.
Lower back pain can be caused by something as minor as sleeping in an awkward position overnight, or it can occur following something more extreme such as a car accident. That being said, here are some of the most known medical conditions and spinal disorders that can lead to back pain in the lumbar spine:
- Herniated discs
- Disc Degeneration Disease
- A major physical trauma to the lower back, such as a car accident, a work accident, or other type of injury. This is a factor to look out for, especially if there is a chance that the spinal cord was damaged due to the trauma.
- Spinal stenosis
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Piriformis syndrome
- Iliac crest pain syndrome
- Compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots
This list is not exhaustive and there may be other factors that lead to lower back pain that are not mentioned here.
In many cases, although some of these medical conditions may cause unpleasant symptoms and interfere with daily life, they may not necessarily be a cause for concern. However, it is still recommended that they are treated, or at least managed, to prevent them from worsening, and also to improve the quality of life of the sufferer.
There are certain risk factors that can increase the chances that someone develops lower back pain. Some of the most common trigger points for this condition include:
- Sitting down for a long time, without taking a break, can lead to spinal compression, and ultimately lower back pain.
- Working in an environment that requires heavy lifting or great physical effort, both of which place an increased amount of pressure on the spine, and may lead to injury
- Having sustained a major trauma to the spine, such as a car accident, a major injury at work, or even a fall.
- Lifting heavy weights regularly as part of a workout routine. Additionally, lifting heavy weights without proper form (correct way of positioning the body while exercising) may lead to lower back pain.
- Maintaining a healthy weight or achieving a healthy weight though weight loss is recommended to minimise the possibility of lower back pain onset.
- With age, our spine’s health tends to decline due to the wear and tear that occurred with the pressure it had to sustain throughout the years.
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Causes for Concern
Although lower back pain may go away on its own after a while, there are some red flags that should be treated as a medical emergency, and you should seek medical help as soon as possible. Some lower back pain symptoms to look out for are:
- Back pain does not go away within a few weeks, even with a prolonged period of rest. The pain may even worsen.
- Sudden weakness in the legs that impairs your ability to walk, and only seems to worsen.
- This might be a sign of spinal infection.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your back pain is mild, you can seek medical advice from your primary care physician as a first step. You may then be referred to a specialist, who will conduct a physical examination and ask relevant questions about your medical history in order to reach a conclusion regarding the exact cause of your symptoms. Knowing the exact cause will help provide a more accurate treatment plan and better medical care for your spine condition.
Some of the most common ways to manage and/or treat a mild case of back pain in the lumbar region include:
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medication to provide short-term pain relief (including over the counter pain medication)
- Exercise to help strengthen the core muscles
When it comes to more severe back pain, surgery may be considered, but only in extreme cases, and when the patient fails to respond to more conservative forms of treatment.
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