LOW BACK PAIN: CAUSES, PREVENTION AND RELIEF EXERCISES

Low back pain

Back pain is a common health problem which can be due to organic or mechanical causes. The back has structures comprising bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and muscles. Any abnormalities in any of these structures can cause pain. However, diseases affecting internal organs can also cause low back pain.
Do you want to learn how you can relief your back pains? Shortly, home remedies and exercises to relieve your back pain would be clearly highlighted.

CAUSES OF LOW BACK PAIN

INFLAMMATORY CHANGES IN THE BACK
Depletion of the cartilages between the intervertebral joint spaces leads to spinal osteoarthritis and incites low back pain.

VERTEBRAL DEGENERATION
The vertebrae in the lower vertebral column may undergo some changes such as losing its density(called Osteoporosis) or developing spinous processes(Lumbar spondylosis) or displacement of a vertebral body onto another(spondylolisthesis). These changes usually lead to nerve compression and back pain eventually.

MUSCLE STRAIN
This occurs due to overstretching of the muscles while lifting heavy objects or overactivity.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Internal organs diseases and medical disorders such as urinary tract infection, kidney stones and prostate cancer can cause back pain.

DANGER SIGNS OF LOW BACK PAIN
The presence of intense back pain associated with any of these symptoms below requires a thorough evaluation of the patient.
• Persistent high grade fever
• Unexplained weight loss
• Radiating abdominal pain
• Loss of bladder control
• Numbness or weakness in both legs

DIAGNOSIS
A physical examination will be essential in determining if it is due to a mechanical or organic cause.
Usually, the musculoskeletal system will be examined. The physician will assess your ability to stand/walk, reflexes, range of motion and presence of sensations in both legs. Other systemic examination will depend on the presence of specific associated symptoms.

INVESTIGATIONS
Radiological investigations are the main stay for low back pains because mechanical factors i.e muscular strain or ligament sprain are the commonest causes
• Xrays of the spine will be done to show the musculoskeletal alignment
• CTscan and MRI of the spine to assess the vertebral discs and ligaments in the vertebral column.
• Blood/Urine tests to rule out underlying internal organ dysfunction.

BACK PAIN TREATMENT
Non-surgical treatment methods are very effective in the management of back pain. This entails using analgesics and strengthening exercises.

ANALGESICS
• Unbearable back pain should be relieved by using analgesics. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are very effective inflammatory causes of back pain eg Spinal osteoarthritis and Opioids like Pentazocine etc are reserved for severe cases such as slipped intervertebral disc.

EXERCISES TO RELIEF BACK PAIN
Exercises that focus on strengthening the back muscles have been discovered to be therapeutic.These exercises should be commenced for back pains caused by mechanical causes and after internal organ diseases have been excluded.
The following strengthening and stretching exercises will strengthen and support your back with its muscles.

KNEE TO CHEST STRETCH
PROCEDURE
• Lying flat on the floor, bend your knee and put your feet flat on the floor.
• Use both hands to pull up one knee and press it against your chest with your abdomen tightened and your spine pressed to the floor.
• Hold this position for 5-10 seconds then return to the initial position. Repeat the same movement with the other leg.
• End by repeating the movement on both legs at the same time. Repeat this twice a day.

SHOULDER BLADE SQUEEZE
PROCEDURE
• Sit on a stool and maintain an upright position.
• Pull your shoulder blades together and hold the position for 10-20 seconds. Relax afterward.
• Repeat 3 times daily.

SEATED LOWER BACK ROTATIONAL STRETCH
PROCEDURE
• Sit up on a stool
• Cross your right leg over your left leg.
• Apply your left elbow against the outside of right knee, twist and stretch to the side.
• Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
• Repeat on the opposite side.
• Repeat this stretch 3-4 times per day.

CAT STRETCH
PROCEDURE
• Position yourself on your hands and knees
• Gradually raise your back upwards to form an arch.
• Slowly let your back and abdomen sag down towards the floor.
• Repeat 2-3 times per day.

EXERCISES TO AVOID
• Sit-ups.
• Standing toe touching
• Double leg raises.

PREVENTION
• Keep proper posture at all times.
• Sleep on a slightly firm mattress to reduce the curvature on your spine.
• Avoid protracted bed rest
• Engage in stretching exercises regularly
• Stop smoking because it impedes blood supply to the spinal tissues.
• Ensure a professional, preferably a chiropractor ergonomically sets your workstation.

CONCLUSION
Low back pain can be managed at home especially when the cause is mechanical; there is no significant vertebral change or internal organ involvement. Persistent, and intense back pain requires a medical examination and profound investigations.
Generally, stretching and strengthening exercises highlighted earlier can aid the relief of low back pain without any medical intervention. Elderly people should always seek health professional assistance for a thorough evaluation of their back pain because organic causes are much common in this age group.

About the author

I am an experienced practicing Medical Doctor and a medical expert author for ezinearticles.com. I am a double certified content writer for website contents on health/ fitness/nutrition and I am a native English speaker.
I am also proficient with copywriting. I have excellent written communication skills and I am enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, research/academic writing.
I am a semifinalist in 2016 CIAPS Nigeria essay competition and among the top 10% of young innovators in 2018 World Bank ideas for action competition.