Pain that primarily affects the back is different from a spinal condition that results in mostly leg pain, a condition commonly called sciatica. Typically, sciatica is the result of a pinched nerve in the spinal column.
So, how is low back pain treated? As described above, the treatment very much depends the precise cause of the low back pain. Moreover, each patient must be individually evaluated and managed in the context of the underlying background health status and activity level.
Skeletal irregularities include scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that does not usually cause pain until middle age; lordosis, an abnormally accentuated arch in the lower back; and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
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.
Management of low back pain depends on which of the three general categories is the cause: mechanical problems, non-mechanical problems, or referred pain. For acute pain that is causing only mild to moderate problems, the goals are to restore normal function, return the individual to work, and minimize pain. The condition is normally not serious, resolves without much being done, and recovery is helped by attempting to return to normal activities as soon as possible within the limits of pain. Providing individuals with coping skills through reassurance of these facts is useful in speeding recovery. For those with sub-chronic or chronic low back pain, multidisciplinary treatment programs may help. Initial management with non–medication based treatments is recommended, with NSAIDs used if these are not sufficiently effective.
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Low back pain can be caused by tumors, either benign or malignant, that originate in the bone of the spine or pelvis and spinal cord (primary tumors) and those which originate elsewhere and spread to these areas (metastatic tumors). Symptoms range from localized pain to radiating severe pain and loss of nerve and muscle function (even incontinence of urine and stool) depending on whether or not the tumors affect the nervous tissue. Tumors of these areas are detected using imaging tests, such as plain X-rays, nuclear bone scanning, and CAT and MRI scanning.
Sometimes these disks can bulge, herniate, or rupture. Nerves can get compressed when this happens. Herniated disks can be very painful. A bulging disk pressing on the nerve that travels from your back down your leg can cause sciatica or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can be experienced in your leg as:
Future studies investigating the effect of different seating systems on patient postures and symptoms ought to include patients with higher pain levels, longer follow-up and female participants, so as to more realistically replicate the range of demographics and development of symptoms in those who work in seated environments.
Biofeedback is used to treat many acute pain problems, most notably back pain and headache. The therapy involves the attachment of electrodes to the skin and the use of an electromyography machine that allows people to become aware of and selfregulate their breathing, muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature. People regulate their response to pain by using relaxation techniques. Biofeedback is often used in combination with other treatment methods, generally without side effects. Evidence is lacking that biofeedback provides a clear benefit for low back pain.
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Spending a few nights on the floor with a pillow underneath your feet can really help your back, even if it might be a little trickier to stay sound asleep. If you’re a side sleeper, putting a pillow between your knees can help your muscles relax more.
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In the United States 85 to 90% of people experience back pain at some time during their lives. Back pain is the second most common reason people visit their family doctors (just after upper respiratory infections).
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are typically tried first. NSAIDs have been shown to be more effective than placebo, and are usually more effective than paracetamol (acetaminophen).
Traction involves the use of weights and pulleys to apply constant or intermittent force to gradually “pull” the skeletal structure into better alignment. Some people experience pain relief while in traction, but that relief is usually temporary. Once traction is released the back pain tends to return. There is no evidence that traction provides any longterm benefits for people with low back pain.
Subluxations are said to be spinal joints that have slipped out of alignment, and some chiropractors will explain that they lead to back pain, digestive issues, mood disorders, and more. Ramin reports that they are impossible to point at on an x-ray, because they don’t exist; a dislocated joint in your spine would be the result of a horrendous injury that sends you to the hospital, she explains, not to a massage table.
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Stand up throughout the day to stretch your body appropriately, the way it is meant to be stretched. The simple act of standing as tall as possible for a minute or two will help break the pattern of sitting, as long as you repeat it frequently. Be sure that while standing you take full deep breaths to expand your torso as well. We often have very shallow breath while we sit, counter that with big deep breaths as often as you can throughout the day.
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