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If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. In a large survey, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months.\nWant to know more about the Lower Back Pain? Read the TeMed report and visit https://www.temed.com/\n
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If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes.
It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. In a large survey, more than a
quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months.
Men and women are equally affected by low back pain, which can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp
sensation that leaves the person incapacitated. Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it
can develop over time due to age-related changes of the spine. Sedentary lifestyles also can set the stage for low back pain, espe-
cially when a weekday routine of getting too little exercise is punctuated by strenuous weekend workout.
Most low back pain is acute, or short term, and lasts a few days to a few weeks. It tends to resolve on its own with self-care and there
is no residual loss of function. The majority of acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the
way the components of the back (the spine, muscle, intervertebral discs, and nerves) fit together and move.
Subacute low back pain is defined as pain that lasts between 4 and 12 weeks.
Chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low
back pain has been treated. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persis-
tent symptoms at one year. In some cases, treatment successfully relieves chronic low back pain, but in other cases pain persists
despite medical and surgical treatment.
Treatment for lower back pain depends upon the patient's history and the type and severity of pain. The vast majority of lower back
pain cases get better within six weeks without surgery, and lower back pain exercises are almost always part of a treatment plan.
Here are few common methods to effectively treat Short term Low Back Pain, also called “acute back pain”:
Ceasing activity for a few days allows injured tissue and even nerve roots to begin to heal, which in turn will help relieve lower back
pain. However, more than a few days of rest can lead to a weakening of the muscles, and weak muscles have to struggle to
adequately support the spine. Patients who do not regularly exercise to build strength and flexibility are more likely to experience
recurrent or prolonged lower back pain.
Paracetamol is effective in treating most cases of back pain. Some people find non-
steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such asibuprofen, more effective. A
stronger painkiller, such as codeine, is also an option and is sometimes taken in
addition to paracetamol.
If you also experience muscle spasms in your back, your GP may recommend a short
course of a muscle relaxant, such as diazepam.
Painkillers can have side effects, some can be addictive and others may not be
suitable, depending on your state of health. Your GP or a pharmacist will be able to
give you advice about the most appropriate type of medication for you.
Hot and cold treatments
Some people find that heat –for example, a hot bath or a hot water bottle placed on
the affected area helps ease the pain.
Cold, such as an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables, placed on the painful area is
also effective. Do not put the ice directly on to your skin because it might cause a
cold burn. Wrap the frozen pack in a wet cloth before applying it to the affected
Another option is to alternate between hot and cold using ice packs and hot
compres- sion packs or a hot water bottle. Hot compression packs can be bought at
most larger pharmacies.
Changing your sleeping position can take some of the strain off your back and ease
If you sleep on your side, draw your legs up slightly towards your chest and put a
pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, placing a pillow under your
knees will help maintain the normal curve of your lower back.
Trying to relax is a crucial part of easing the pain because muscle tension caused by
worrying about your condition can make things worse.
Research suggests that people who manage to stay positive despite the pain tend to
recover quicker and avoid long-term back pain.
Most experts now agree that staying in bed, lying down or being inactive for long
periods is bad for your back.
People who remain active are likely to recover more quickly. This may be difficult at
first if the pain is severe, but try to move around as soon as you can and aim to do a
little more each day.
Activity can range from walking around the house to walking to the shops. You will
have to accept some discomfort but avoid anything that causes a lot of pain.
There is no need to wait until you are completely pain-free before returning to work.
Going back to work will help you return to a normal pattern of activity, and it can often
distract you from the pain.
Exercise and lifestyle
Try to address the causes of your back pain to prevent further episodes. Common
causes include being overweight, poor posture and stress.
Regular exercise and being active on a daily basis will help keep your back strong and
healthy. Activities such as walking, swimming and yoga are popular choices.
The important thing is to choose an enjoyable activity that you can benefit from
without feeling pain.
If you have had back pain for more than six weeks (known as chronic back pain), your GP will probably recommend you the treat-
ments listed below.
Usually take the form of a group class supervised by a qualified instructor. The classes may include exercises to strengthen your
muscles and improve your posture, as well as aerobic and stretching exercises. NICE recommend a maximum of eight sessions over
a period of up to 12 weeks.
There are different types of manual therapy including manipulation, mobilisation and
massage, usually carried out by chiropractors, osteopaths or physiotherapists
(chiropractic and osteopathy aren't widely available on the NHS). NICE recommend a
maximum of nine sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks.
An ancient Chinese treatment where fine needles are inserted at different points in
the body. It's been shown to help reduce lower back pain. NICE recommend that an
acu- puncture course should include a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to
These treatments are often effective for people whose back pain is seriously affecting
their ability to carry out daily activities and who feel distressed and need help coping.
Nerve root blocks
A nerve root block is where a steroid or anaesthetic is injected into your back. If your back
pain is caused by a trapped or inflamed nerve in your spinal column, the injection can
help relieve the pain in your back, plus any associated leg pain.
To be effective, the injection needs to be made at exactly the right place in your back, so
the procedure will be carried out under X-ray or CT guidance.
Facet joint injections
It is also possible to have anaesthetic or steroid injections in the facet joints. The facet
joints are the joints that connect one vertebrae to another so that your spine is kept
aligned. The joints are sometimes affected by arthritis. Facet joint injections are not
always effective at relieving back pain.
If the painkillers do not help, you will probably be prescribed tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline. TCAs were
originally intended to treat depression, but they are also effective at treating some cases of persistent pain.
If you are prescribed a TCA to treat persistent back pain, the dose is likely to be very small.
If the treatments described above are not effective, you may be offered counselling to help you deal with your condition.
While the pain in your back is very real, how you think and feel about your condition can make it worse. Cognitive behavioural
therapy (CBT)works by helping you to manage your back pain better by changing how you think about your condition.
Studies have shown that people who have had CBT later reported lower levels of pain. They were also more likely to remain active
and take regular exercise, further reducing the severity of their symptoms.
Surgery for back pain is usually only recommended when all other treatment
options have failed.
Surgery may be recommended if your back pain is so severe or persistent that you
are unable to sleep or carry out your day-to-day activities. The type of surgery will
depend on the type of back pain you have and its cause.
For example, a procedure known as a discectomy may be used if you have a
prolapsed disc. The discs are the circular, spongy tissue between the vertebrae that
help cushion your spine. A prolapsed disc is where the hard outer membrane of
the disc is damaged, causing the soft, jelly-like fluid inside to leak out.
A discectomy involves removing the damaged part of the disc through an incision
made in your back. It is now possible for surgeons to carry out the procedure using
a very small incision and a microscope or magnifying lenses to find the damaged
disc. This minimizes the amount of trauma to the surrounding tissue, reduces the
pain and discomfort in the affected area and results in a smaller scar.
Spinal fusion surgery is a less common surgical procedure where the joint that is
causing pain is fused to prevent it moving.
As bone is living tissue, it is possible to join two or more vertebrae together by
placing an additional section of bone in the space between them. This prevents
the damaged vertebrae irritating or compressing nearby nerves, muscles and
ligaments, and reduces the symptoms of pain.
Spinal fusion is a complicated procedure and the results are not always
satisfactory. For example, you may still experience some degree of pain and loss of
movement following surgery.
There are many ways to prevent lower back pain. Learning prevention techniques can also help lessen the extent of your symptoms
if a lower back injury should occur. Prevention management includes:
Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles
Reducing stress on your lower back by controlling your weight
Practicing safe lifting and carrying techniques: Lift objects correctly by keeping your back straight, bending your knees and lifting
with your legs.
Maintaining good posture when you’re sitting and when standing Sleeping on a supportive surface
Sitting on chairs that are supportive and allow your feet to rest flat on the floor
Avoiding wearing shoes with high heels
Trying to stop smoking: nicotine impairs blood flow and also leads to disc degeneration.
If you need to stand up in the same place for an extended period, try resting one foot on a small stool or step.
While standing in the office or the kitchen, open the door of a cabinet and rest one foot inside the cabinet. Alternate feet every 5 to
Practice good posture when standing by holding your head up. Keep your shoulders straight and your chest forward. Your weight
should be evenly balanced on both your feet and your hips should be tucked in.
It is vital that your chair provide adequate support for your lower back. The chair
should be curved where the small of your back meets the seat to provide support
for your spine.
Use a small foot stool or foot rest to keep your knees slightly higher than your
If you need to turn while you’re sitting, avoid twisting at the waist. Instead,
rotate your whole body when you turn.
Avoid sleeping flat on your back. Lie on your side with your knees bent. Try
placing a pillow between your knees.
Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Before attempting to lift something heavy, make sure you have secure footing. Lower your body to the level of the object by
bending your knees. Keep your low back straight. Never bend over from the waist. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift,
using your leg muscles. Use a smooth, consistent motion without jerking.
When you lift an object off a table or counter, first slide it to the edge. This will enable you to hold it closer to your body. Keep
your back straight and bend your knees. Lift with your legs and return to a standing position.
Never lift or carry objects above the level of your waist. Hold objects near your body and keep your arms bent.