As an adult, you probably have experienced low back pain, in fact the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) states that 75-85% of adults will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. As you may know, low back pain can greatly affect your life and make daily activities very difficult. Before we dive into how to treat low back pain, let’s take a look at why you may be dealing with low back pain in the first place.
Because the low back is a main area of stabilization, support and rotation, many different factors can contribute to pain felt there. Some of the causes include strained muscles, sprained ligaments, nerve irritation, degeneration, overuse, intervertebral disc injury, spinal stenosis, scoliosis as well as an acute injury.
Overuse/acute injury is a very common cause of low back pain. A low back injury can occur by doing a lot of activity that our body isn’t prepared to do. This could be anything from repetitive lifting to being a weekend warrior. Acute injuries can happen from activities you perform on a regular basis or an activity you have never done before.
As we age, our bodies slow down. The low back experiences a lot of wear and tear over the years which may result in damage. One form of damage that can occur is in the form of disc degeneration (the wear and tear, shrinking, and collapse of intervertebral disc). Another is spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space around the spinal cord).
When an intervertebral disc (the shock absorbers of the spine) is damaged the result can be a stretching known as an intervertebral disc bulge or a rupturing known as an intervertebral disc herniation.
Scoliosis may also be a cause of low back pain. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. A scoliosis can cause your back to be off balance and become strained, thereby causing pain and stiffness.
Low back pain symptoms can vary greatly from person to person in nature, frequency and intensity and are often different depending upon the cause. Your pain may be dull or sharp. It may constant or intermittent. It may get worse with standing, sitting, bending, or walking. Pain may even extend into your buttock or down your leg.
Symptoms can vary a lot from person to person. Getting an examination with Dr. Boroditsky is the best way to assess what treatment plan is best for you.
Prior to starting any type of treatment, it is always advisable to first see an appropriately trained spine specialist to develop an appropriate treatment program for your specific condition and medical history.
The main goals for managing back pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) usually include:
- Providing enough pain relief to be able to actively participate with physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Preventing further injury or stress to the spine through improved ergonomics and posture
- Maintaining an ability to function enough at home and at work
Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatments
There are a wide variety of non-surgical options for back pain treatment of the lumbar spine. The more common treatment approaches include:
Pain medication. Typical pain medications used to treat the lower back pain include acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants. Each type of medication has strengths, limitations, and risks, and the patient’s particular problem in the lower back and overall health will determine which pain reliever, if any, is indicated.