What You Should Know About Low Back Pain

What You Should Know About Low Back Pain: Causes And Symptoms

Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common health problems in women. LBP affects approximately 20% of all American women at some point during their lives.

The exact cause of LBP is not known. However, there are several theories about its origin.

Some experts believe that LBP is caused by a combination of physical activity and psychological factors such as stress or depression. Other researchers have suggested that it may be due to abnormalities in the nervous system itself. For example, spinal stenosis may lead to nerve compression which leads to low back pain.

Regardless of the cause, LBP is treatable with appropriate medical care. There are many different treatments available for LBP including surgery, non-surgical therapies, lifestyle changes and medications.

What Are The Common Types Of Lower Back Pain?

The most common types of back pain include:

● Muscle strains. This is the most common type of low back pain that occurs when one or more of your muscles, such as those in your lower back, become strained from overuse or injury.

● Dental issues. A common cause of lower back pain in women, dental issues such as an impacted wisdom tooth can put pressure on the nerves in the jaw that contribute to pain in the back.

● Slipped or herniated disc (nucleus pulposus). Nerve endings in the spinal cord travel through spaces or tunnels called nerves.

These nerves, which are surrounded by a protective fluid-filled cushion called the nucleus pulposus can bulge or rupture. A herniated disc often causes pain and tingling that starts in the lower back and sometimes shoots down one or both legs.

● Bone spurs (osteophytes). When bone growth occurs around the joints of the spine, it leads to narrowing of the spinal canal.

This narrowing of the spinal canal puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain.

● Arthritis. Arthritis in the spine causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints of the spine.

What Are The Symptoms Of Back Pain?

The most common symptoms of back pain include:

● Pain that ranges from a dull, constant ache to severe sharp pain that starts in the lower back and may shoot down one or both legs

● Pain that becomes worse when you sit, bend or lift objects

● Muscle weakness in the legs, bladder or bowel dysfunction (such as incontinence) and loss of sensation

What Are The Risk Factors Of Back Pain?

There are different risk factors that can increase your chance of developing lower back pain:

● Age. Back pain is more common among middle-aged and older adults.

● Gender. Women experience back pain more often than men.

This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones and an increased risk of fractures.

● Obesity. Being obese increases your risk of back pain for several reasons.

Excess weight strains the joints, muscles and bones, which can cause pain and musculoskeletal problems. In addition, obesity can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disease that causes joint pain and loss of mobility.

● Psychological factors. There is evidence that suggests a strong link between psychological well-being and back pain.

Conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression have all been linked to an increased risk of back pain. In addition, people who suffer from back pain are more likely to also suffer from mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

How Is Back Pain Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose the cause of your back pain, your doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms and examine your back. Your doctor will likely perform various tests in an attempt to pinpoint the cause of your pain. These tests may include:

● A Neurological Test. This test involves having you to certain movements in order to assess the function of your nerve and spinal cord function.

● A Rheumatoid Factor Test. If your doctor believes you may have rheumatoid arthritis, he or she will order a rheumatoid factor test.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints of the body.

● An X-ray. An x-ray of your back can help your doctor determine if you have spinal stenosis or a fractured vertebrae.

Can Back Pain Be Treated?

Your treatment options will vary depending on the cause of your back pain. They may include:

● Lifestyle Changes. In many cases, making some lifestyle changes can help relieve your back pain.

Such changes include:

– Quitting Smoking. Smokers are more likely to suffer from lower back pain than non-smokers.

– Avoiding Heavy Lifting. If you must lift heavy objects at work, bend at your knees and hips and avoid twisting or turning your back.

– Using Proper Body Mechanics When Sitting Or Standing. When sitting in a chair, make sure the chair is at the right height for your knees to be slightly bent at all times.

When standing, make sure you distribute your weight evenly on both feet.

– Exercising Regularly. Try to engage in regular exercise that promotes strong back muscles and improves flexibility.

– Maintaining a Healthy Weight. Being overweight strains the joints in your back and may lead to more severe back pain.

– Relieving Stress. If stress is causing your back pain, try meditation, yoga or another stress-relieving activity to help decrease your pain.

Medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin – can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

Your doctor may also prescribe muscle relaxants, antidepressants or opioid pain medications to help control your pain. Opioid medications have a high potential for dependency and should only be used on a short-term basis if at all.

Invasive Procedures. If lifestyle changes and medications don’t help relieve your back pain, your doctor may recommend an invasive procedure such as:

● An epidural corticosteroid injection. A corticosteroid is injected into the affected area to decrease swelling and inflammation.

● Radiofrequency rhizotomy. During this procedure, a small device is used to heat the nerves in the affected area to help reduce pain signals.

● Anesthetic injection. A numbing agent is injected into the nerves to reduce pain signals.

● Spinal fusion. In this procedure, a surgeon removes the damaged disc and stabilizes the vertebrae with implants.

This procedure is usually only performed as a last resort when other treatments have failed.

Surgery. If you are suffering from severe, recurring or debilitating back pain, your doctor may recommend surgery.

The type of surgery you undergo will depend on the type of pain you are experiencing. Your surgeon may:

● Remove part of a herniated or bulging disc to relieve pressure on the nerves (lumbar discectomy).

● Perform a spinal fusion to stabilize a vertebra that has moved out of place (spondylolisthesis, or slippage of a vertebra).

● Relieve pressure on the spinal cord by removing part of the vertebra (lumbar decompression). This type of surgery is less common because it can lead to loss of spinal function.

While surgery can be effective in relieving pain, it may also lead to a host of other issues, including post-surgical complications such as infection or blood clots, or a decline in overall health.

Other procedures. If you have nerve pain, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove the affected part of the nerve (peripheral nerve ablation).

Pain specialists might also burn off nerves with an electric needle (percutaneous thermal rhizotomy) or use heat to the area (radiofrequency lesioning).

Soft Tissue Therapy. Soft tissue therapy is a topical treatment process that firms and hydrates skin and muscles.

It can also be used to speed up recovery time after an injury or surgery. Soft tissue therapy can help to:

– Relieve back pain by increasing blood supply and oxygen flow to the back muscles.

– Promote healing of torn or injured soft tissue.

– Reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

– Speed up the recuperation process after an operation, injury or sport.

Soft tissue therapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with other treatments such as medications or surgery. People who have had soft tissue therapy say it can speed up their recovery time and relieve post-op pain.

It can also be used to prevent injuries and recurring pain problems from occurring again.

When is Soft Tissue Therapy Used?

Soft tissue therapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, from an injury you’ve just had to one you’ve had for a long time. It can also be used alongside other treatments such as medication or invasive procedures. There are many types of soft tissue therapy, including:

Massage: Massage is one of the oldest therapies in the world and is still one of the most popular in modern times. The word “massage” comes from the Latin word massa which means “kneaded”.

Massage is a type of soft tissue therapy that involves rubbing and kneading parts of the body to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue. The most common types are:

– Swedish massage (also known as classic massage): This is a general all-over massage that helps to improve circulation and relieve muscle tension. It also increases the range of motion in your joints.

It’s a good choice if you have recently had an injury or you suffer from chronic pain.

– Deep tissue massage: This type of massage focuses on deeper tissues, muscles and connective tissues in your body. It helps to break down scar tissue and adhesions in your muscles.

It can help to relieve areas of chronic tension which cause recurring pain problems.

– Sports massage: This is a specialized type of massage that uses many of the same techniques as Swedish massage. It is tailored to your sport or activity, however, so it can help with issues such as muscle sprains and overuse injuries.

It can also help to prevent further problems by increasing your range of movement.

– Trigger point therapy: This technique focuses on specific tight muscles or trigger points in your body. It is designed to treat recurring pain in a small, localized area.

It can be used to treat chronic pain or post-operative pain.

– Myofascial release (also known as structural integration): This type of massage focuses on lengthening tissue and muscles in your body. It aims to restore proper muscle length and improve posture, flexibility and joint mobility.

Sources & references used in this article:

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