Chances are you’ve experienced low back pain, either short- or long-term, at some point during your life. Back pain is even the second most common reason for doctor visits, after only respiratory infections. But unfortunately, people often brush off this pain without knowing much about it — with long-lasting and sometimes very serious consequences. You should discuss any specific concerns with a medical professional, but here’s a quick overview to get you started:
The Causes of Low Back Pain
Low back pain can be caused by a number of injuries or conditions. One of the most common is a simple low back strain. This is an acute injury that involves tiny tears in the muscles and tendons of the lower back. A mild low back strain may go away after a few days, but a more serious low back strain may cause, pain, stiffness and swelling to persist for several days. Other causes of low back pain include sciatica, in which a pinched nerve causes radiating pain through the lower back and down the buttocks and legs; a herniated lumbar disc; degenerative disc disease; and, primarily in older adults, facet joint osteoarthritis.
The Impact of Low Back Pain
Low back pain has obvious physical effects, often restricting leisure activities or even work. But you shouldn’t discount the impact low back pain can have on your emotional health and your life in general, either. Adults with chronic low back pain tend to be in worse mental health than those without low back pain, so it’s important to seek both physical treatment for back pain and emotional support. If you’re wanting treatment but are hoping to avoid surgery or pharmaceuticals, then chiropractic care may be a good route; chiropractic treatment guidelines use natural means and manual adjustments to correct alignment problems in the back, which can reduce the likelihood of your needing more invasive treatment.
Ways to Ease Low Back Pain
If you’re hoping to reduce your low back pain through lifestyle adjustments, there’s plenty you can try. Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, working on better sitting and standing posture, and strengthening the core muscles can all help with low back pain. And whatever you do, don’t just crawl into bed every time your back hurts; while bed rest can help for a few days when recommended by your doctor, a long-term lack of activity is likely to actually lead to more pain in the long run.
Do you have anything to add about treatment for low back pain? Join the discussion in the comments.