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Common causes of lower back pain in adults

Doctor Examines Woman's back

The human body is a complex system. It is a meshwork of nerves, bones, muscles, and skin. We have around 206 bone in our body joined with the help of tendons and ligaments, which enables human beings to walk, bend, twist, and perform several other complicated movements. 

Most of these movements carry significant involvement of the back. Hence, back pains are commonly experienced when performing activities like picking up objects from the floor. Sometimes, the pain is experienced due to pulling of some back muscles, other times, the pain can be excruciating and severe that lasts for several days. 

Persistent pain in the lower back can lead to difficulties in walking, sitting and sleeping. The reasons can be anything from pulled muscles to herniated disk problems. Treatment for acute lower back pain is bed rest and physiotherapy. 

However, lower back pain is common, especially among the old-aged population. It is more common as a chronic condition rather than an acute problem. 

There are several reasons for lower backache. Sometimes it is occupation-related, such as nurses who work day and night, assisting patients in one way or the other. 

Because of their busy schedules, nurses are often prone to developing hunched-over postures and lower back problems with age. Pursuing an advanced nursing degree, like RN to BSN Degree, can be a lot more difficult if you have health problems. 

Occupational hazards aside, there are other myriad causes of low-back pain that you may not be aware of. So continue reading the blog to enlighten yourself about the common reasons for lower back pain along with tips for managing it: 

1. Non-specific lower back pain:

Non-specific lower backache is the most common type you will come across. It affects individuals of almost all age groups. If you ask anyone, they must have experienced it at least once in their lifetime. The reason it is called non-specific is that the underlying cause is unknown. It cannot be associated with any clearly identifiable event. 

In most mild cases of non-specific lower back pain, the pain subsides on its own within a few days. However, if the pain is severe, it may persist for several weeks. The patient may also have to take some painkillers to relieve the condition. In addition to that, prolonged bed rest and massage may also provide some relief.

2. Lower back muscle strain:

Our vertebral column has a lot of soft tissues and muscles attached to it. Sometimes, we put undue stress on these muscles. So when we exceed their pressure-bearing limit, we experience a pain in our muscles that may have gotten injured due to strain. 

A muscle strain might look like a minor injury, but the pain is excruciatingly severe. When the soft tissue tear away from their place of attachment, it can cause inflammation in that particular area. Hence, you will see redness, swelling, and tenderness. 

The cause of lower back muscle strain is usually lifting heavy objects or sleeping in an awkward position. You can easily manage such a condition using ice packs, massage therapy, and over-the-counter muscle relaxants. It would be beneficial if you also avoid strenuous activity until you fully recover. 

3. Herniated or dislodged disk:

Our back consists of small bones that are stacked on top of each other and separated by cartilage. With age, the cartilage starts to degenerate, which causes the contents of the disk to herniate. Hence, the pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves causes inflammation and pain, especially in the lower back that eventually spreads to the legs as well. 

Herniated and dislodged disks are very much common among older folks. It is because of the degenerative process of the body that starts in the old age and continues till death. So the nonsurgical treatment options include painkillers, physiotherapy, and epidural steroid injections. But in severe conditions, doctors suggest a microdiscectomy surgery followed by rehabilitation. 

4. Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes chronic tenderness of the body’s muscles. It is more prevalent in women than in men—a fact that is still a medical mystery. This disorder affects the way the brain interprets pain signals. 

Thus, the body becomes hyperresponsive to pain stimuli. For example, if you poke a blunt object on a person’s body without fibromyalgia, it won’t cause any pain. However, a person with fibromyalgia may feel pain a thousands times more severe from the same object. 

It is a muscle disorder which affects the muscles in our back that support posture. It affects the lower back more significantly. So if you have fibromyalgia, the treatment is usually symptomatic. Your doctor may advise you to do gentle stretching, take warm baths and use a belt for support. You can also take muscle relaxants and antidepressant medicines for further pain relief. 

5. Arthritis:

You can divide the spine into cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccyx regions. The lower back is the lumbar area, the common site for arthritis-related back pain. Different types of arthritis can affect the spine, like, osteoarthritis, spondyloarthritis, etc. 

The main symptom, however, is lower back pain that can last for several weeks. The pain worsens when standing and sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time. As the lumbar spine holds all the body’s weight, such movements can trigger pain. 

The treatment is symptomatic and preventive. So if you have a positive family history of arthritis, or observe any of the symptoms in yourself, it would be best if you consult your physician at the earliest. 

The take-home message:

There are countless more causes of back pain; however, those mentioned above are the most common. Lower back pain is treatable most of the times. A common recommendation in treating lower back pain is lifestyle modification. You should especially be careful when lifting heavy objects off the floor. To avoid straining your back, take breaks to offload the pressure on your spine. Taking up excersise to strengthen the muscles in your back is another way you can strengthen the back musculature. 

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