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- article submitted by independent contributor

LOWER BACK MUSCLE PAIN – AN INTRODUCTION

Many musculoskeletal problems are often easily diagnosed and successfully treated, unfortunately lower back pain is not one of them. Causes of lower back pain can be elusive, leading to incorrect diagnosis and then wrong treatment.

 

PAIN AND WHAT IT TELLS YOU

“Pain is a signal something is wrong.”

It the lower back muscle pain is short lasting and mild it may be nothing to worry about, on the other side if it severe and lasts for a few days up to a week or more, you body is most likely trying to tell you something is wrong. Not listening to your body’s signals can aggravate problems, extending the duration of lower back muscle pain, often for unnecessary durations.

General guides as to when to refer to a doctor are:

If the pain is severe

If there is swelling

If you hear a cracking or snapping at the time of the injury

If you cannot perform your normal day to day duties

If there is nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, paralysis, weakness or disturbed function following an accident or injury.

If the pain continues beyond 7-10 days.1

 

WHAT IS LOW BACK PAIN?

Lower back painaffects the muscles in the lower part of the back. It can be described as:

· Acute if it is less than 6 weeks

· Sub-acute if it 6-12 weeks

· Chronic if it is more than 12 weeks

Many people have suffered from low back pain, costing millions in lost work as well as medical and insurance resources. Lower back muscle pain is one of the most common back complaints and effects four out of five people at some point in their lives. Although most lower back pain will sort itself out within a few days to a few weeks.

 

LOW BACK PAIN – AMERICAN STATISTICS

·      80% of society will suffer back pain of some type

Lower back pain

·      88% will be asymptomatic in 6 weeks

·      98% in 24 weeks

·      99% in 52 weeks

·      97% of causes are unknown

·      2% attributed to disc problems

·      29% will require conservative treatment only

·      1% will require surgery

·      The rest will recover spontaneously2

 

RISK FACTORS – LOWER BACK PAIN

Postural deformities and leg length, in general, don’t seem to predispose to lower back pain. Studies of static work postures indicate an increased risk of lower back muscle pain sitting with a bent over working posture seems to carry significant risk, for example sitting in a car for more than half a work day can lead to three times the risk of disc herniation.3

·      Physically heavy, static work postures

·      Frequent bending and twisting, lifting and forceful movements

·      Repetitive work and vibrations

·      Tallness leads to increased risk

·      Sciatica is more frequent in obese people

·      Weak trunk muscles and decreased endurance

·      Coughing – leading to decreased blood supply to essential areas

·      Social factors i.e alcoholism, history of divorce, level of education, history of depression.4

 

SYMPTOMS OF LOWER BACK PAIN

Low back pain means a pain or ache somewhere between the bottom of the ribs at the back and the top of the legs. That may begin suddenly or follow obvious strain or injury or it can come ‘out of the blue’.

It is possible that pain may also travel for example down the buttocks to the foot. It can be worse bending and is often much worse when sitting. Agonizing pain can be experienced when rolling over in bed or sitting up. Coughing or sneezing may aggravate the pain. Back muscles can also go into painful spasms.

Lower back muscle pain may be combined with pain in the leg traveling down the knee. This is otherwise called sciatica, because the main nerve in the leg, the sciatica nerve, is being irritated by pressure on it..

If in doubt consult your doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist an osteopath or myotherapist.

 

GUIDELINES

The first thing to rule out is other obvious conditions which may cause back pain. You really need to be on the watch out for ‘red flags’ or warning signs, which are factors that may require more rapid treatment. They may point to something more serious than a mechanical problem. If any number of these apply to you please see your doctor.

·      You are younger than 2o when you first get back pain

·      You are older than 55 when you first get back pain

·      The pain follows a violent injury

·      The pain is constant and getting worse

·      You have had or have cancer

·      You are on steroids

·      You are drug abuser

·      You have HIV

·      You are generally unwell

·      You have significant and unexplained weight loss

·      You have significant trouble bending forward over a period of time

·      You have developed nervous system problems – numbness, loss of power etc

·      You have developed an obvious structural deformities

·      If the pain continues over 4 weeks

 

CONCLUSION

If you are concerned about lower back muscle pain please consult your health care practitioner or doctor. To find out more information please visit  YourBackHealth.com

 

1 Listen to Your Pain. B, Benjamin. Penguin Books. P6

2 Ibid

3 Ibid P543

4 Ibid P544

 

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