Back Pain: Lower Back

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Lower Back Pain

Most people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetime. It’s usually seen in the lumbar vertebrae, which includes the L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. There are several causes of lower back pain, including:

  • Sports injuries. The repetitive motion of certain sports, overuse, or sudden movements can lead to lower back pain. 
  • Strains and sprains. Pulling or tearing the ligaments that support your spine can result in pain.
  • Spinal stenosis. This condition causes a narrowing of the spinal canal. This can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Scoliosis.A sideways curvature of the spine during the growth spurt just before puberty can lead to lower back pain.
  • Osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is a common cause of lower back pain. As the joints in the spine degenerate, it can lead to pain and stiffness in the lower back.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis. It’s an inflammatory condition that can lead to fusion of the spine.
  • Lifestyle causes. If you sit at a computer for a long time, don’t exercise or stretch, have poor posture or are overweight or obese, you have a higher risk of developing lower back pain.

Depending on the kind of lower back pain you have, you may experience a dull ache, sharp pain, stiffness, difficulty making certain movements, pain that radiates to other areas, weakness, spasms or numbness.

Lower Back Pain in Pregnancy.

Many pregnant women have lower back pain. It’s caused by the added weight of the baby, a shifting center of gravity, and the influence of ligament-loosening hormones (relaxin). Sciatica, which is characterized by pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, is also quite common.

Lower back pain in pregnancy is often caused by relaxin, which alters the stability of the joints and affects flexibility. Women tend to lean forward as the baby grows and puts strain on the back. This causes the lumbar spine to be compressed. 

Treatment for Lower Back Pain

The most effective treatment for your lower back pain depends on the cause and symptoms. In many cases, short-term rest and exercise to strengthen the core and support the spine may help you feel better. Here are some other common lower back pain treatments:

  • Applying ice and heat. Putting on ice packs when you feel pain, followed by heat, may help reduce inflammation.
  • Taking non-prescription pain relievers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Taking prescription medications. If you don’t respond to non-prescription medications, you may get stronger pain drugs.
  • Using topical creams or gels. These analgesic agents can be applied directly to the skin, and may give you relief from pain.
  • Seeing a physiotherapist for manual therapy. Your physiotherapist may use manipulation, mobilization, and massage to treat your lower back pain.

Some people benefit from cortisone injections, which reduce inflammation around the spinal nerves. Others try naturopathic treatments like acupuncture or explore chiropractic options. Surgery can also be an option for certain conditions, or for patients who don’t respond to other treatments. 

If you’re experiencing lower back pain, talk to your local family doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist about a treatment plan. And, consider making lifestyle changes like losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, getting enough sleep and exercise and managing stress. 

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