Lower Back Pain Causes and Treatments
Low back pain can make your life a misery, disrupting your daily routine and keeping you from the activities you enjoy.
Also known as lumbar pain, low back pain is extremely common, afflicting about 80 percent of Americans at some point in their life.
The good news is that non-surgical therapies usually can relieve your discomfort and restore your well-being.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Most often, low back pain is the result of an injury, such as a muscle sprain or strain caused by sudden movements, playing sports, or poor body mechanics while shoveling snow or lifting heavy objects.
These injuries affect what are termed “soft tissues”: muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Back pain may stem from inflammation, tears, or muscle spasms.
Lower back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability. Lifespan’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services include a Work Conditioning Program to prepare recovering employees for a return to the workplace.
The Lifespan Orthopedics Institute is home to some of the most well-respected and skilled spine surgeons.
How do I know if my back pain is serious?
Low back pain may be a symptom that you have a more serious condition, such as a ruptured or herniated disc, sciatica, arthritis, or, rarely, cancer of the spinal cord.
If home therapies don’t relieve your pain within several weeks, you should ask your primary care physician for a referral to a specialist.
What can cause lower back pain in women?
Lumbar pain in women isn’t always triggered by muscle strain or ligament tears. Ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, and pregnancy can cause women to suffer lower back pain.
Low back pain during pregnancy is extremely common, affecting 50 to 70 percent of women who are expecting.
Among the reasons are the weight gain and changes in posture that accompany pregnancy.
The spine has to support increasing weight as pregnancy advances, contributing to lower back pain. The weight of the growing baby and uterus can put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back, causing pain.
Poor posture, excessive standing or sitting, and bending over can increase a pregnant woman’s back pain. In addition, the body’s center of gravity shifts forward as the uterus and baby grow, affecting posture and movement, and triggering strain and pain.
Lower Back Pain Treatments
To relieve low back pain, self-care therapies include rest (but not complete inactivity), periodically applying ice (for the first two days after injury) and heat, and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
If pain continues to interfere with your daily activities, you should see your primary care doctor, who may order an X-ray and prescribe physical therapy and/or muscle relaxants. For low back pain lasting longer than six weeks, a referral to a specialist at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute is indicated.
Rehabilitation specialists at Rhode Island, Hasbro Children’s, The Miriam, and Newport hospitals work with orthopedic patients and their doctors with the goal of averting the need for surgery. Therapists help restore function, improve mobility, and relieve pain.
If non-invasive interventions don’t relieve your back pain, diagnostic tests may reveal a structural problem that requires surgical repair. For example, Lifespan Orthopedics Institute surgeons perform disc replacement surgery that allows natural motion of the spine, unlike lumbar fusion.
Joseph Vingi, Jr., a retired veteran firefighter, suffered debilitating back pain that affected his legs and kept him from enjoying lifeguarding and playing hockey. Lifespan Orthopedics Institute specialist Alan Daniels, MD, chief of the division of orthopedic spine surgery at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals, performed an operation that got Vingi back in the water in two weeks and back on the ice in less than two months. He says, “I got my quality of life back".
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The discs in the spine can be damaged by traumatic injury or can wear with age and cause pain but there are ways to treat degenerative disk disease.
Back pain and spine disorders are very common conditions and a spine specialist can help you relieve pain without surgery.through a variety treatments.