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The outlook for low back pain absolutely depends on its precise cause. For example, acute strain injuries generally heal entirely with minimal treatment. On the other hand, bony abnormalities that are irritating the spinal cord can require significant surgical repair and the outlook depends on the surgical result. Long-term optimal results often involve exercise rehabilitation programs that can involve physical therapists.
Many automobiles also have lumbar support in the seats. This feature is activated by a button which is usually located with the other seat controls. It allows the driver and passengers to inflate the lumbar section of the car seats to the amount of support preferred. It feels almost like using a lumbar support cushion, though this type of support is built right into the car.
American College of Physicians (September 2013), Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question, Choosing Wisely: an initiative of the ABIM Foundation, American College of Physicians, retrieved 10 December 2013
A third alternative device for achieving lumbar support is the belt. Lumbar belts are usually anywhere from four to eight inches wide. Most designs are constructed to fit easily under the clothing, making it possible to wear the belt in just about any situation. Thicker belts of this type are often employed as a safety measure for warehouse workers, truckers, and others who may be required to lift heavy loads as part of their daily work routine. The belts make it harder to strain the muscles of the lower back while engaged in lifting.
Emerging technologies such as X-rays gave physicians new diagnostic tools, revealing the intervertebral disc as a source for back pain in some cases. In 1938, orthopedic surgeon Joseph S. Barr reported on cases of disc-related sciatica improved or cured with back surgery. As a result of this work, in the 1940s, the vertebral disc model of low back pain took over, dominating the literature through the 1980s, aiding further by the rise of new imaging technologies such as CT and MRI. The discussion subsided as research showed disc problems to be a relatively uncommon cause of the pain. Since then, physicians have come to realize that it is unlikely that a specific cause for low back pain can be identified in many cases and question the need to find one at all as most of the time symptoms resolve within 6 to 12 weeks regardless of treatment.
One important caveat: no one solution for chronic low back pain works well for everyone. Instead most treatments studied—whether pills, push-ups or acupuncture—help some people cope with their pain but fail to help others.
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^ Flynn TW, Smith B, Chou R (November 2011). Appropriate use of diagnostic imaging in low back pain: a reminder that unnecessary imaging may do as much harm as good. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 41 (11): 838–46. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.3618. PMID 21642763.
The cushion also features a mesh cover which has good airflow properties, thereby keeping you cool and preventing sweat accumulation which is a common problem with these products. The cover is also hypoallergenic and easily removable thanks to a convenient zip along the back so you can easily wash it.
MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRI scanning is painless and does not involve X-ray radiation. Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet.
Filling—for lumbar cushions is not the same as the filling for fluffy bed pillows. Lumbar cushions must be firm to support your back, not soft to sink into so your pain can suffer some more. Memory foam or foam in a good quality should offer you comfort yet be firm to support you. Some brands provide adjustable straps to wrap around a chair or car seat.
If you see a doctor for back pain, he (or she) may use terms such as thoracic, lumbar, lumbosacral, or sacrum. The point is, back pain is a large topic covering many different regions (or levels) of the spine.
Total disc replacement is an experimental option, but no significant evidence supports its use over lumbar fusion. Researchers are investigating the possibility of growing new intervertebral structures through the use of injected human growth factors, implanted substances, cell therapy, and tissue engineering.
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This can cause an inability to plantar flex the foot. This means you would be unable to stand on your toes or bring your foot downward. This occurs when the first sacral nerve is compressed or injured.
There is moderate quality evidence that suggests the combination of education and exercise may reduce an individual’s risk of developing an episode of low back pain. Lesser quality evidence points to exercise alone as a possible deterrent to the risk of the onset of this condition.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH or Forestier’s disease) is a form of degenerative arthritis. It is characterized by calcification along the sides of the vertebrae of the spine. Symptoms include stiffness and pain in the upper and lower back. Anti-inflammatory medications are used to treat DISH.
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.
THE TAKEAWAY: Age or being overweight isn’t a guaranteed back pain sentence. And, back pain shouldn’t be blown off as simply a side effect of these issues. Losing excess weight is always a good idea for overall health, but having LBP while overweight doesn’t mean you won’t have future bouts of back pain after losing the weight.
Overall, the outcome for acute low back pain is positive. Pain and disability usually improve a great deal in the first six weeks, with complete recovery reported by 40 to 90%. In those who still have symptoms after six weeks, improvement is generally slower with only small gains up to one year. At one year, pain and disability levels are low to minimal in most people. Distress, previous low back pain, and job satisfaction are predictors of long-term outcome after an episode of acute pain. Certain psychological problems such as depression, or unhappiness due to loss of employment may prolong the episode of low back pain. Following a first episode of back pain, recurrences occur in more than half of people.
It is not unusual for back pain to be accompanied by other symptoms, such as numbness and tingling sensations, stiffness, achiness, and weakness. Certain activities may increase or aggravate back pain. Sitting, walking, standing, bending over, and twisting at the waist are a few of the movements that can make back pain worse. Of course, that is not true for every patient. Rather, it depends on what level of the spine is affected and the diagnosis, or cause.
THE TAKEAWAY: You are not doomed by your MRI. Many people with abnormal results are pain free. According to a 2009 research review published in The Lancet, clinicians should refrain from routine, immediate lumbar imaging in patients with LBP without features suggesting a serious underlying condition. For you, that means asking your doctor about what other diagnostic avenues he or she will use besides an MRI. Especially if you’re hearing about your MRI results and the word “surgery” comes up.
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Yoga may be an effective strategy for alleviating back pain by making people more aware of how they move their bodies. The benefits of yoga were proven in a study of more than 100 adults with lower back pain. After taking weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks, the participants, who were between ages 20 to 64, experienced improvement in their body function and a reduced need for pain medication. At the end of the study, only 21 percent of the patients who take the yoga class were taking pain medication, down from almost 60 percent at the start.
The diagnosis of low back pain involves a review of the history of the illness and underlying medical conditions as well as a physical examination. It is essential that a complete story of the back pain be reviewed including injury history, aggravating and alleviating conditions, associated symptoms (fever, numbness, tingling, incontinence, etc.), as well as the duration and progression of symptoms. Aside from routine abdomen and extremity evaluations, rectal and pelvic examinations may eventually be required as well. Further tests for diagnosis of low back pain can be required including blood and urine tests, plain film X-ray tests, CAT scanning, MRI scanning, bone scanning, and tests of the nerves such as electromyograms (EMG) and nerve conduction velocities (NCV).
^ Urrútia G, Burton K, Morral A, Bonfill X, Zanoli G (March 2005). Neuroreflexotherapy for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review. Spine. 30 (6): E148–53. doi:10.1097/01.brs.0000155575.85223.14. PMID 15770167.
T-tests (paired and unpaired where appropriate) employing Holm’s method of p-value adjustment were used for all post-hoc pair-wise comparisons following significant ANOVA/ANCOVA results. The R-Project statistical software version 2.12.1 was used for all data analyses (The R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Institut für Statistik und Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie, Vienna, Austria).
In a pinch, an easy way to add lumbar support is to roll a towel up and place it behind your back. You can use it in bed, in a sitting position, and even in your car. Depending on the amount of lumbar support you want, you can adjust the thickness of the roll by using small or large towel.
Muscle strains are the most common cause of low back pain. Patients may or may not remember the initial event that triggered their muscle spasm, but the good news is that most episodes of back pain from muscle strains resolve completely within a few weeks.
The interaction between the low back and chair support is an important health factor for employees using seated work stations. Canadian statistics indicate that back injuries make up 28.8% of the lost time claims and 7.0% occur in clerical jobs . The result of the musculoskeletal conditions is a reduction in work attendance and performance. For instance, 19% of those with low back pain (LBP) lose 6.2 hours of work per month and those with severe pain lose 8.2 hours of work per month .
If you work in an office setting, chances are you spend the majority of your day sitting in an office chair that doesn’t provide the best support for your back. As a result, you can leave work each day with an achy back and restless legs. Adding a lumbar support pillow to your chair can provide your back with the support you need to maintain good posture, maintain proper circulation and prevent muscle fatigue.
Disc degeneration remains a key cause of chronic low back pain and the pain often persists despite surgery. NIH-funded basic science and preclinical studies are investigating molecular-level mechanisms that cause discs in the spine to degenerate, as well as protective mechanisms involved in disc remodeling that may diminish with advancing age. Such studies may help identify future therapeutic strategies to block degenerative mechanisms or promote remodeling processes. NIH also is funding early research on stem cell approaches to promote disc regeneration and rejuvenate cells of the nucleus pulposus, the jelly-like substance in the center of intervertebral discs that loses water content as people age.