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Lumbar Pain


Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Lumbar pain or pain experienced in the lower back is a serious concern among most people. About 90 percent of the general population suffers from this pain. Over half this number experiences recurring episodes of low back pain. Rather than being a disease in itself, low back pain is usually a symptom caused by a variety of processes. The specific causes of 85 percent of lower back pain cases are never pinpointed despite thorough medical examinations.

Despite no specific underlying causes being found, lumbar pain  will usually resolve on its own. Keeping notes on the characteristic of your low back pain is very important. Usually, this helps your medical practitioner to determine appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Chronic  lumbar pain occurs when the pain persists for more than a month. Acute pain resolves within a similar period. Over 90 percent of these cases will resolve within 2 months regardless of the mode of treatment employed or even without treatment. Such low back pain can caused by nerve root irritation including muscle strains.

Low back pain accounts for the second highest number of missed work days after the common cold. Headache is the only neurological complain that surpasses lumbar pain. This makes lower back pain one of the most common causes of hospital visits.

Lumbar pain Causes

Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Many disorders of the abdomen are responsible for referred lumbar pain. These include aneurysm, appendicitis, bladder infection, kidney infection, ovarian disorders, and bladder infections. Referred lower back pain emanates from abnormalities linked to the organs around the pelvis, abdomen or chest cavity.

Other common  lumbar pain causes are associated with disease or injuries to bones, muscles or the nerves related to the spine. Back pain can also be a symptom of normal pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause stretching in the ligaments of the pelvis. It can irritate the nerves and also cause a strain on the lower back. It is important to see your doctor for evaluation of pain.

Nerve infringements are symptoms of nerve root syndromes that occur as a result of direct nerve irritation. One main cause of this is the bulging of the disc or herniation within the lower back bones. Herniated disc sciatica is a common example of nerve root impingement. Pain as a result of impingement is usually sharp, covering a specific area and leg numbness occur in areas that the nerve affected supplies.

As the spinal discs grow thinner or degenerate, herniated discs develop. Usually, the jellylike mid-section of the disc bulges off the central cavity and exerts pressure against a nerve root. During our third decade of life, the inter-vertebral discs start degenerating. About one third of adults over the age of 20 have herniated discs. However, only 3 % of this figure experiences the symptoms of nerve impingement.

As you age, the inter-vertebral discs experience reduced moisture and volume. This is referred to as spondylitis, and it is also linked to a reduction in disc height. Under such circumstances, minor trauma can lead to lead to nerve root impingement and inflammation. This can result in classic sciatica even without disc rupture.

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal due to spinal disc degeneration and other lower back joint diseases. Symptoms can be experienced from the changes in the disc and joints which are also visible on an X-ray. Standing for extended durations or walking for even short distances may cause severe pain. Such pain may emanate from both lower extremities in people with spinal stenosis.

Cauda equina syndrome. In this medical emergency, The spinal cord suffers direct compression. As a result, the disc matter expands reaching the spinal canal thus compressing the nerves. This leads to pain, reduced sensation, and dysfunction in the operations of the bladder and bowel. Usually, incontinence follows as a result of inability to control or commence urination.

Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Musculoskeletal pain syndromes which are responsible for localized lumbar pain include fibromyalgia and myofascial pain. Myofascial pain is associated with pain and tenderness around the areas of discomfort. The normal range of motion is restricted to the affected muscle group.  Though the characteristic distribution of pain is mainly radiated, it remains secluded to a peripheral nerve. Stretching the muscles involved usually offers lumbar pain relief.

Fibromyalgia can cause widespread pain and tenderness all over the body. Other symptoms include fatigue, general stiffness and aching muscles. This autoimmune condition exhibits different symptoms in different patients.

Another uncommon cause of  lumbar pain is infection of the bones such as osteomyelitis. This is an infection that affects the spine. Spondylitis is an non-infectious inflammation of the spine. It can cause pain and stiffness in the spine, This condition is usually worse in the mornings. Ankylosing spondylitis mainly affects young adults and adolescents.

Tumors can also cause skeletal pain that leads to similar back pain. The herpes zoster virus that causes shingles can also infect the nerves leading to nerve inflammation. When this occurs in the thoracic area, it leads to upper back pain. It also causes lumbar pain when it affects the lumbar area.

Lumbar pain causes are very numerous. It is crucial that you undergo a thorough medical evaluation. The evaluation should act as a guide to any possible diagnostic tests.

Lumbar pain Management at home

Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Ice treatment. This is suitable in the first 24 hours of inflammation as it reduces swelling. Heat relaxes the muscles, covers the pain and the warmth can be soothing,  However, heat inflames the process of inflammation and should be used only after the first 48 hours. Always take a break after 20 minutes to let your skin rest.

Make a gentle transition back into your daily routines. Staying in bed or resting is not healthy for  lumbar pain  sufferers. Avoid what makes your back hurt. For the initial couple of days take a break. Movement strengthens your muscles but limit it to low impact activities.

Activities that put extra strain on your back like bending, reaching and lifting should be avoided. Lying in bed with a pillow between your legs is helpful. A lumbar roll, small pillow or rolled up towel is essential for support while sitting.

Always place one foot on a stool while brushing your teeth. Avoid bending to get into your pants or socks. Have your back to the wall for support and lift your knees as you slide down your shoulders. Slip into your pants and socks one leg at a time.

Pay close attention to your posture and body mechanics. While posture relates to how you sit and stand, body mechanics refers to how you use your body. Ensure you avoid slumping while sitting or standing.

To keep the lumbar pain at bay, bend your knees, flex your hips and avoid slumping your spine while lifting. Also, avoid sudden jerk movements when moving from a sitting to a standing position. Slouching also adds undue stress to your back.

When the acute pain eases, you may be in a position to engage in some gentle exercises. Strengthen your back, stomach and leg muscles and don’t forget the stretching exercises. Apart from a faster recovery, the exercise treatment option can also prevent the injury from recurring and neutralize the risk of disability from lumbar pain.

One of the simplest and most suitable exercises for back pain is walking. A physical therapist should be in a better position to recommend more specific back pain exercises. Strengthening the core or trunk muscles can help improve your posture and support your spine. This can also improve your balance and minimize your chances of injury.

Smokers take a longer time to recover from any injury including lumbar pain. Quitting can quicken your recovery process. Smokers also have a higher likelihood of having back pain than non-smokers. Nicotine and other chemical toxins hinder nutrients from reaching the spine discs through the blood. This increases chances of injury as these discs support and cushion the spine bones. Injured discs are a common cause of back pain.

Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Avoiding stress is also an important  lumbar pain  management technique. Because you worry each time you have lower back pain these two factors can result in a vicious circle. Stress leads to tense muscles which in turn aggravates back pain, which causes you more worries.

Weight management is another important factor in lumbar pain management. Extra weight around the waist puts additional strain on your back. Lifestyle changes are a better means of maintaining your ideal weight rather than merely dieting.

One important adjustment in your lifestyle involves changing your eating habits. Don’t be in a hurry to give your diet a total overhaul. Take your time and do it gradually. You will have more success working on each individual eating habit separately.

Treating back pain also involves changing your thinking. Our thoughts determine what we engage in and how we feel. Desist from feeding your brain discouraging and negative thoughts. Positive and encouraging thoughts are not only beneficial for your mind but for your body too.

When to Seek Immediate Treatment for Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Lumbar Pain

Most episodes of lumbar pain do not necessitate medical attention. You should see a doctor immediately in cases of low back pain caused by severe trauma. The following conditions should also necessitate immediate medical attention:

  • Fever and chills
  • Weight loss that is inexplicable or trauma followed by weight loss.
  • Feebleness or substantial weakness in the legs.
  • Sudden incontinence in bladder and or bowel functions. This may involve difficulty in having a bowel, movement or passing urine.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm- Lumbar pain  that is accompanied by continuous episodes of abdominal pain should be brought to the doctor’s attention immediately.
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