Chronic Low Back Pain
Summary of Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic low back pain is something that most people will experience at some point in their lives, and has no particular cause. Treatment involves strengthening and restoring function to the back through fitness and exercise.
Chronic Low Back Pain FAQ's
The lower back is sometimes known as the lumbar region, where each vertebra of the spine is separated by a disc which acts as a spacer and absorbs shock to the spine. This is surrounded by ligaments and muscles that support the lower back, in partnership with the abdominal muscles as well. Any of these structures could cause lower back pain and there is not always necessarily a specific cause. Lower back pain is one of the most common injuries reported by patients.
The term chronic implies a long-term injury, and so for the sake of this article it refers to any lower back pain that has lasted for three months or more.
The symptoms are self-explanatory, causing a band of pain across the lower back. This pain can sometimes run down the back of the legs as well, and is often made up of a dull ache that increases with certain movements and activities. The pain is usually eased by lying down, easing and increasing with specific postures or movements.
The length of pain and back issues can vary hugely, though studies suggest that almost half of people with back pain will recover within a year. Those who do not make a full recovery can still improve their condition and carry on as normal.
The cause of chronic low back pain can be attributed to overuse, lack of use, or poor use (bad posture). All three of these are affected by everyday stresses and anxieties, and this can compromise our ability to cope with the pain. If the back is not moving freely, joints and muscles become tight, reducing movement and increasing the likelihood of pain and muscle spasms. If the pain continues, the patient will still not be able to move freely and thus the cycle continues.
The most common and effective treatment in most cases is to exercise the muscles and keep moving. You will be given a tailored exercise program to restore full movement of the back, loosening the joints and strengthening the muscles that are causing you pain. After performing the exercises, the muscles will ache, especially after a period of inactivity, but it is important to persist and keep moving.
Returning to a normal routine including work and general movement will help both physically and psychologically, providing distraction and allowing you to take control of your condition.
Pain is common and must be tolerated, but there are treatments for pain management that are readily accessible, including pain killers, heat such as a hot bath, and stretches.
A clinician may want to identify what it is that’s causing you the problem in the first place, and so will assess your movement, posture and use of the back in general. This in turn may lead to some recommendations about your general lifestyle that will help in the long run.
Exercise is the key to recovery from chronic low back pain, restoring the normal movement and allowing you to return to your everyday routine. It is important you take control of the condition by improving your posture and performing a structured exercise program that elevates your fitness and attitude towards your own wellbeing.