Most of us keep busy going about our daily lives. If we are healthy then it’s easy to cope with bodily stress and tiredness but if something goes wrong with our health then the smallest of activities become an ordeal. Our back takes the maximum load of our body. But at times the slightest soft tissue injury can play havoc which is the most common cause of lower back pain.
These injuries can be due to damage to the intervertebral discs, compression of nerve roots and improper movement of our spinal joints.
Common causes of sprain and strain
- Lifting a considerably heavy object, or twisting the spine while lifting
- Sudden movements that cause stress on the lower back, such as a fall
- Poor body posture over time
- Sports injuries that involve twisting or large forces of impact such as with a ball or weights
While sprains and strains are usually not a cause of alarm and do not typically cause long-lasting pain but the acute pain can be quite difficult to handle.
Chronic pain typically lasts for more than three months and exceeds the body’s natural healing process. Chronic pain in the lower back is mainly due to a joint problem, a disc problem, and/or sometimes an irritated nerve root. Chronic pain can also be due to an underlined health condition such as a tumour, infection or an autoimmune disease. It could also be the result of deformity, trauma or compression fracture.
Symptoms of lower back pain
1.Dull aching pain
A person can feel a dull aching pain in the lower back which is not very stinging or sharp. This kind of pain can be accompanied by mild or severe muscle spasms and aches in the hips and pelvis and mobility can be limited.
2.Pain that travels down to the feet
At times this low back pain can go down the hip and travel all the way to the feet. This pain can be quite sharp. This is due to strain on sciatic nerve and commonly referred to as sciatic pain. This pain is typically only on one side of the body.
3.Pain due to prolonged sitting
Sitting for long periods can cause severe pain as it puts pressure on the discs. If you move and stretch then the pain is eased but as soon as you go back to sitting the pain returns.
4.Pain that is worse in the morning but goes down gradually
Sometimes your body can be really stiff as you wake up but as you go about your day your muscles begin to relax and the pain in the back reduces.
Treating lower back pain
Treatment options for low back pain are designed according to individual patient’s needs. Treatments include guided home care, medicinal remedies, alternative therapy, or even surgery. Treatment has to be precise for a patient to heal quickly.
Self-care at home
This is really important as the first line of treatment. Basic remedies can be applied at home. These can really be effective for treating mild or acute pain from muscle strain. These remedies can also help to reduce the effects of chronic, severe pain significantly.
The tense muscles can be relieved effectively by using a hot water bottle, electric heating pad, or using heat wraps. Hot water bath can also be very soothing for relieving pain.
If inflammation is the cause of the lower back pain then ice or cold packs can be used to reduce swelling effectively. But one needs to be really careful in protecting the skin while applying heat or ice to prevent any tissue damage.
It’s a good idea to alternate heat therapy when returning to activity. Heat relaxes the muscles, allowing for better flexibility and mobility and ice reduces the chances of an area becoming irritated and swollen from activity.
Over-the-counter pain relieving medications
Over the counter drugs can be really helpful in alleviating the lower back pain effectively. The most common OTC medications are aspirin, ibuprofen, combiflam, naproxen and acetaminophen. Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are anti-inflammatory medicines, which relieve lower back pain caused by swollen nerves or muscles. Acetaminophen works effectively by interfering with pain signals sent to the brain.