What can be the causes of lower back pain?
There are many potential causes of lower back pain, including muscle strains, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spinal deformities. In some cases, lower back pain can be caused by a problem with the lower back muscles, ligaments, or other soft tissues. It can also be caused by a problem with the spine itself, such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
Lower back pain can also be caused by pregnancy, poor posture, obesity, and certain medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, scoliosis, and ankylosing spondylitis. In some cases, the cause of lower back pain may be difficult to determine.
It’s important to see a doctor if you are experiencing persistent or severe lower back pain, as this can be a sign of a more serious medical condition that requires treatment. A doctor can help diagnose the cause of your lower back pain and recommend appropriate treatment options.
How can a physiotherapist diagnose lower back pain?
A physiotherapist can diagnose lower back pain through a physical examination and a review of your medical history. During the physical examination, the physiotherapist will observe your posture, range of motion, and muscle strength, and may also perform tests to assess your flexibility and mobility. The physiotherapist may also ask you to perform certain movements or exercises to help identify the cause of your lower back pain.
In addition to the physical examination, the physiotherapist may also ask you about your symptoms, including the location and intensity of your pain, any activities that seem to worsen or improve your pain, and any other medical conditions you have. The physiotherapist may also ask about your daily routine, including your work environment and any activities you enjoy, to help identify potential causes of your lower back pain.
Based on the results of the physical examination and your medical history, the physiotherapist can diagnose the cause of your lower back pain and recommend appropriate treatment options. This may include exercises and stretches to help improve your flexibility and strength, as well as techniques to help reduce pain and improve your overall function. In some cases, the physiotherapist may also recommend other treatments, such as Soft tissue mobilization, heat or cold therapy, or therapeutic modalities, to help alleviate your lower back pain.
Physiotherapy treatment of lower back pain:
The treatment of lower back pain with physiotherapy will depend on the cause and the specific symptoms a person is experiencing. However, some common treatment options may include:
Exercise and stretching: A physiotherapist may recommend specific exercises and stretches to help improve flexibility, strength, and mobility in the lower back. These may include stretches for the lower back muscles, such as the lumbar flexion stretch or the prone press-up, as well as exercises to improve core stability, such as the plank or the bird dog. Some other examples of exercises can be:
- Knee to chest.
- Child’s pose.
- Superman exercise.
Manual therapy: A physiotherapist may use hands-on techniques, such as Soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, or spinal manipulation, to help reduce pain and improve mobility in the lower back.
Heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the lower back can help reduce pain and inflammation. A physiotherapist may recommend using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or ice pack. Which treatment to choose between heat and cold can be decided only after examination by physiotherapists.
Dry needling or Cupping therapy.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to produce heat, which can help reduce pain and inflammation in the lower back.
TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) involves the use of a device that delivers mild electrical impulses to the lower back for relief.
It’s important to note that treatment will depend on the specific cause and severity, and a physiotherapist will develop a treatment plan that is tailored to the individual needs of the patient.
How to prevent lower back pain?
Practice good posture: Maintaining good posture can help reduce the strain on your lower back muscles. When standing, keep your feet hip-width apart and try to distribute your weight evenly. When sitting, use a chair with good lumbar support and make sure your feet are flat on the ground.
Exercise regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, can help strengthen your back muscles and improve your flexibility. It’s important to choose exercises that are appropriate for your fitness level and to listen to your body to avoid overdoing it.
Use proper lifting techniques: When lifting heavy objects, be sure to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back. Keep the object close to your body and try to avoid twisting while lifting.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on your lower back muscles. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk.
Avoid smoking: Smoking can increase the risk by reducing blood flow to the lower back and by decreasing bone density.
Use a lumbar roll when sitting: Placing a lumbar roll or cushion in the small of your back can help maintain the natural curve of your spine and reduce the strain on your lower back muscles.
Take breaks from sitting: Prolonged sitting can put extra strain on your lower back muscles. Take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and move around to help reduce the risk.
Frequently asked questions:
How do I know if my lower back pain is serious? And When Is back pain a red flag?
- Severe pain: If your lower back pain is severe and unrelenting, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
- Pain that radiates down your leg: If your lower back pain is accompanied by pain, numbness, or tingling that radiates down your leg, it may be a sign of a nerve problem, such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
- Difficulty standing or walking: If your lower back pain is making it difficult for you to stand or walk, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control: If you are experiencing a loss of bladder or bowel control, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately as this can be a sign of a serious spinal cord problem.
- Fever: If you are experiencing a fever, it may be a sign of an infection or other underlying medical condition.
When should you not ignore back pain?
When back pain is accompanied with:
- Numbness and tingling anywhere from the lower back to your toes.
- Traumatic injury.
- Loss of bladder and bowel movement.
- Duration of more than 4 weeks and that prevents you from performing routine tasks.