Today, lower back pain is one of the most common problems and complaints physicians receive. In fact, it is said that about four out of five adults have some form of lower back pain or the other. Though lower back pain can be rather painful, it is seldom related to the extent of physical damage that the back may have gone through.
Sometimes, a muscle spasm from a back pain leaves great pain that makes walking and standing difficult. However at times, a large, herniated disc or a completely degenerated disc proves to be rather painless. The cause of low back pain can be complex where some structures in the low back may cause pain. The usual causes of lower back pain is the large nerve roots in the low back that irritates legs and arms while smaller nerves irritate low back. Sometimes it is the large, paired lower back muscles that get strained, or perhaps the bones, ligaments, joints or inter-vertebral disc may get injured to start lower back pain.
There are some cases that know no form of anatomical cause, but have great pain that has to be treated. Usually lower back pain conditions improve with time through conservative treatments like osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation, pain medications, physical therapy, etc. There are also conditions in lower back pain that may indicate a need for an emergency surgery.
Some of the types of lower back pain that need surgery are a sudden bowel or bladder incontinence and a weakness in the legs. This condition is called Cauda equine syndrome while severe, continuous abdominal and low back pain is called abdominal aortic aneurysm, which needs emergency surgery. However most of the cases of acute lower back pain are caused by muscular strain from lifting a heavy object, a sudden movement and a fall.
Inflammatory conditions like osteoporosis leads to recurrent backaches where the joint in the backbone degenerates through wear and tear. Then sometimes due to the uterus getting tipped during childbirth and even kidney infections can all lead to lower back pain. It is usually within 2-24 hours of an injury or muscle tear that pain and tenderness develops in the lower back.
Lower back pain is rarely considered to be dangerous; but some untreated conditions may become dangerous like an untreated disc pressing on the spinal cord. When untreated, it could lead to paralysis. Even infections in the spinal vertebrae could be dangerous as it causes secondary cancer; however this is a very rare spinal condition.
The main treatment for back pain is to lie flat on a firm surface. Use of an infrared lamp or heat pack helps in relaxing muscles. Then again, a firm or gentle massage using liniment in the affected area helps give relief to lower back pain. Painkillers like acetaminophen should also be taken for relief, and carrying of heavy objects, avoided.
The best things to do to prevent lower back pain is by using proper lifting and carrying techniques, and practicing swimming and other exercises to strengthen lower back muscles.