10 Causes of Lower Back Pain and How to Treat It

Almost every adult has experienced lower back pain at least once in their life. The lower back, which goes from the ribcage to the buttocks, provides support and can be stressed during movement and during sitting too. That is why pain in this part of the body is a fairly common experience.

lower back pain

Usually, it’s nothing serious, but this is not always the case. This is the reason why you should learn more about the different causes to the problem and how to counter them. With the right treatment, you can expect to regain your former comfort and mobility. Let’s learn about lower back pain and its causes and treatments.

1. Prolonged Sitting

Surprisingly or not, one of the most common causes of lower back pain has nothing to do with you being active. It is quite common for people to feel stiffness in the back due to sitting in one position for a long time. The risk of pain and discomfort is greater when the chair doesn’t provide proper lumbar support.

You can treat the stiffness and pain in the lower back caused by prolonged sitting with massage, but the best way to get rid of the problem for good is to stretch and stay active.

Get up from your chair at least once every hour and do simple stretching exercises. Take a walk during your lunch break. You will also benefit from getting an ergonomic chair with lumbar support.

2. Heavy Backpack

The greater the weight you carry is the greater strain your back will get. If you are fond of hiking or backpacking or simply carry a backpack to work or to school, you can experience a considerable amount of discomfort and pain. The key thing is take measures for dealing with the problem.

To get relief from the lower back pain, you simply need to take the backpack off and stretch a bit. Massaging the area will also help. An ergonomic backpack may help you to keep the problem under control, but it’s far more important to watch out for the weight.

A bag with wheels is the better alternative where applicable.

3. Work and Exercise

Certain physical activities put greater strain onto the lower back and cause discomfort and pain. If your job involves lifting or dragging heavy objects, you are more likely to experience these symptoms.

Professional athletes and dancers are also at greater risk. This is the reason why warming up, cooling down and recovery between training sessions, races, games and performances are so important.

People who work out irregularly can also experience lumbar pain during and right after exercise. If you don’t do anything all week and then play golf or hike all day on Saturday, you can experience a considerable amount of strain and pain.

The best way to deal with lower back pain caused by overexertion is to get sufficient rest and to stretch. Massaging the affected area will also help. You can use over-the-counter topical treatment if the pain is moderate to severe.

With a balanced workout routine, you will lower the risk of pain and enjoy a wide range of extra benefits too.

4. Muscle Strain

This is perhaps the most common cause of pain in the lower back. The strain is usually the result of lifting a heavy object or making a sudden move such as twisting your body too far.

Generally, people who are in poor physical condition are more likely to experience this kind of problem. If you work out, you need to warm up well before doing any exercise to avoid this and other common injuries.

Massaging the affected area with pain-relieving gel is an effective home treatment. If the pain is strong, you can take painkillers. Chiropractic treatment will also help you get back on your feet quickly.

If the pain and related symptoms do not go away in three days, you should have your lower back checked by a doctor.

5. Herniated Spinal Disk

The spinal disks are cushions between the vertebrae supporting the smooth performance of the spine. They can bulge or rupture, usually as a result of staining or another kind of injury. The bulging or rupturing results in putting pressure on a spinal nerve.

This is what causes lower back pain. It is common for the pain to spread down to the buttocks and the leg. This happens when the sciatica nerve is pressed. That is why the condition is often referred to as sciatica.

What is the treatment for herniated spinal disk? The doctor will evaluate the symptoms and use X-rays to determine the severity of the condition. In most cases, the condition is treated with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.

The doctor may recommend other drugs such as muscle relaxants to ease the lower back pain and speed up the recovery process. When the patient experiences severe symptoms such as loss of bladder and bowel control, the best treatment is surgery for freeing the compresses nerve.

6. Spondylitis

This condition is associated with inflammation of the spinal joints. It may cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to get fused together. The lower level of flexibility leads to stiffness and pain in the lower back.

Usually, the symptoms get worse with rest and may improve with physical activity. This condition is more common in men than in women.

Treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs helps to relieve the symptoms of the condition and to improve the mobility of the patients.

Physical therapy is also helpful for pain relief and for keeping up with daily activities and exercise too.

7. Degenerative Disk Disease

This is a serious medical condition. The spinal disks begin to break down and this causes inflammation. In addition to lower back pain, patients often experience muscle spasms.

It’s common for patients to experience the most severe pain while sitting or standing and to get relief by changing their position and doing exercise like walking.

The condition can usually be managed with careful choice of activities and physical therapy.  Manual spinal manipulation and steroid injections usually deliver very good results.

If the condition advances quickly and the pain gets worse with time, the treatment can be continued with spinal fusion surgery designed to stop the motion at the affected section and to provide relief.

8. Spinal Stenosis

There are open spaces within the structure of the spine. When these get narrowed, they exert pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves. This condition is called spinal stenosis.

It is the result of wearing in the spine linked to osteoarthritis. The lower back pain associated with this condition is often accompanied by cramps.

The condition can be controlled with the help of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and other medications. Physical therapy also helps patients to manage the symptoms and retain their mobility. When nerve roots become irritated, steroidal injections in the affected area help to provide relief.

If the symptoms are disabling, the doctor may recommend surgery. This is not particularly common, however. There are several types of surgical treatments available.

9. Osteoporosis

This condition causes the bones to weaken over time. They become brittle and the risk of injuries and fractures, in particular, increases considerably. The spine, hip and wrist bones are the parts of the musculoskeletal system most commonly affected by osteoporosis.

Lower back pain is the most common symptom due to collapsing or fracturing of vertebrae. Posture problems and weight loss are other signs of the condition.

A bone density test is used to determine how fast the condition is progressing. This will help the doctor to prescribe individual treatment to every patient. Bisphosphonates are the most commonly prescribed osteoporosis medications.

Estrogen therapy is sometimes recommended to women after menopause, but it can have serious side effects which should not be ignored. Healthy diet and exercise can help with managing the condition.

10. Fibromyalgia

This condition is characterized by muscle pain which affects many parts of the body including the lower back. Generally, lumbar pain often tends to be the most intensive and severe due to the strain on this part of the body caused by sedentary lifestyle or overexertion.

The precise causes of fibromyalgia are still not known, but research has shown that it may have to do with the way in which the brain processes painful sensations.

The most common type of treatment involves the intake of over-the-counter pain relievers. Sometimes, doctors can prescribe antidepressants too. It has been shown that relaxation techniques including massage can help patients to feel a lot better. Psychological therapy can also support the treatment.