Did you know lower back pain affects 540 million globally, which equates to more than 1 in 10 people worldwide? According to the CDC, 25% of the U.S. adult population reported having acute lower back pain in 2020.
Common Lower Back Pain Causes
With approximately 4 out of 5 people experiencing lower back pain at some point in their life, it is an extremely common issue. While sometimes the result of a condition or disease, lower back pain is most often attributed to an injury. Injured muscles or tendons can occur from trauma, like a car accident, but can also be caused by everyday activities such as gardening, hauling groceries or high-impact exercise.
Symptoms of lower back pain may present abruptly, or be more gradual in nature. Pain may be sharp, or a dull, achy, radiating sensation. If you notice a decreased range of motion, you may be experiencing stiffness. This can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle or posture issues.
Likewise, overused or strained muscles and misaligned spine tendons can cause uncontrolled muscle spasms to occur. It is possible for lower back pain to also result from strains, sprains, fractures, disk and structural problems, arthritis and certain diseases.
At Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain
Many times lower back pain will resolve with minimal at-home intervention. The most essential thing is to rest, so further strain does not occur. Typically, ice, rest and over-the-counter pain medication, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are enough to resolve lower back pain. Following a few days of rest, you can begin to slowly resume normal activities. Assuming no pain arises, remaining active will help increase blood flow to the area and promote healing along with light lower back stretching.
Some individuals may be more prone to lower back pain, based on a variety of risk factors. These include:
- Age: Anyone over the age of 30 will experience more bodily “wear and tear.” Spinal disks weaken with age, resulting in stiffness and pain.
- Weight: Overweight and obese individuals place more pressure and strain on joints and disks.
- Lifestyle and Occupation: People who drink, smoke or lead a sedentary life are more at risk, as well as those who participate in jobs or activities that require heavy lifting.
- Structural Health: Weak abdominal muscles can contribute to back strain or sprains. Severe pain can result from spine conditions, like scoliosis.
- Mental Health: Depression and anxiety may manifest physically and lead to back pain.
- Disease: Certain forms of cancer or tumors have a higher risk of lower back pain, as do those with a family history of osteoarthritis.
Back Pain Treatments
While lower back pain usually resolves on its own with at-home care, contacting a medical professional is imperative, if pain persists. There is a possibility a physical exam will be completed to identify any broken bones or damage to muscles, disks, tendons or ligaments. You may receive an MRI, CT scan, EMG or spine x-ray to further investigate the cause of your lower back pain.
Treatment protocols may include over-the-counter or prescription drugs to relieve pain. In some situations, steroid injections are also sometimes used to further reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be recommended, as a way to strengthen muscles, leading to a more supportive spine. PT has the added benefit of protecting against future injury, as flexibility will be improved. Similarly, manipulative work may aid in decreasing lower back pain by relaxing tightened muscles. These treatments include hands-on manipulation, like chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy, that improve alignment and restore proper function.
If the above treatments do not properly address lower back pain, surgery may be required. Certain conditions, injuries or diseases, might only respond to surgical repair. Fortunately, there are several surgical options available, including the use of minimally invasive techniques.
While you may not be able to completely eliminate the possibility of lower back pain, you have the power to drastically reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices. Be sure to always lift heavy objects properly, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly, focusing on improving core muscle strength.
If you experience lower back pain, most people can treat it at home and recover without any long-term health complications. If pain continues, it is best to work with a medical professional to properly assess and treat your specific condition. Check out some of our pain treatments here at Georgia Pain and Spine Care.