Lumbar or Lower Back Pain Lumbar or lower back pain affects nearly 80 percent of the adult U.S. population. A problematic low back affects the spine's flexibility, stability and strength adversely, which may lead to discomfort and stiffness in the area. Signs and Symptoms Tenderness, stiffness and pain in the lower back Pain aggravating into the legs Uneasiness while sitting Difficulty in standing erect or in one position for long durations Leg fatigue while walking The Origin The root cause of low back pain can be a tough nut to crack. Low back pain is usually caused due to strain from lifting, twisting or bending. This denotes spine inflexibility; that you are not in proper health. Some forms of low back pain are indicators of more serious complications, as infections, rheumatic or arthritic conditions and ovarian cysts. A ruptured or bulging disk may be the culprit. Compression fractures of the spinal bones may also cause lumber back pain, more so in elderly women suffering from osteoporosis. Poor fitness levels, smoking, dissatisfaction from life are known to exacerbate a person's risks of running into lumber back problems.
A visit to the Doctor A good doctor will: - Ask you to sit, stand, and move. - Check your reflexes and response to touch, pinprick or slight heat. He or she may also advise strength testing on a treadmill. You may also require a blood test, X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Treatment Options The safest thing to treat lumber back pain is to change your lifestyle. Exercise to strengthen your back muscles, maintain a healthy weight, practice good posture, and you will either prevent back pain for life or will feel relieved if already suffering from it. Learning to lift and bend in a spine-friendly way, sleeping on a firm mattress, sitting on chairs which provide adequate support to the spine, and finally, wearing proper shoes will reward your efforts to relieve back pain. Therapies - Drug Therapy Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, popularly known as NSAIDs can help relieve low back pain. Examples of NSAIDs are Ibuprofen (brand name Advil, Motrin), Naproxen (brand name Aleve, Naprosyn) Muscle relaxants, example gratia carisoprodole (Soma®) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril®). Oral or epidural steroids also reduce inflammation. - Alternative Therapy Alternative therapies are those which digress from the allopathic medicine and find unusual and unique ways to cure an ailment. They are generally safe to use, without any side effects, but there are exceptions; proper medical advice is required. Use of Herbs Herbs are plants with medicinal properties. These may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas) or glycerites (glycerine extracts) or as tinctures (alcohol extracts). Relaxants - Black haw (Viburnum prunifolium) is an excellent relaxant - Petasites (Petasites hybridus) is for treating acute muscle spasm but prolonged use is discouraged - Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is antispasmodic in nature, especially with insomnia (loss of sleep) - Wild yarn (Dioscorea villosa) is antispasmodic as well, particularly with joint pains and chronic stress - Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, primarily with digestive disorders. New research has proven its efficacy in treating and preventing cancer as well. Pain Relievers - White willow bark (Salix alba) is anti-inflammatory and an excellent analgesic - Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is an alalgesic and has anti-inflamaatory properties - St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is anti-depressant as well as anti-inflammatory Circulatory Stimulants - Rosemary leaves (Rosmarinus officinalis) are particularly helpful in digestive problems - Gingko (Gingko biloba) is a very powerful circulatory stimulant and a also an antidepressant Use of Homeopathy Some common medicines in homeopathy for low back pain are: - Aesculus for dry pain with muscle weakness - Arnica Montana for pain originating from trauma, exempli gratia, crushed finger - Colocynthis is handy for cramping and weakness in the small of the back - Gnaphalium is for sciatica that alternates with numbness - Rhus toxicodendron for stiffness and soreness in the back Use of Acupuncture Acupuncture is a technique for inserting and manipulating thin needles into "acupuncture points" on the body in order to restore health and well-being. Scientific studies have found the use of acupuncture helpful in relieving low back pain. An acupuncturist's supervision of low back pain involves a comprehensive approach including focused massage, application of warming herbal oils, and patient schooling. Treatment of painful areas and related sore points is often performed as well, with needles and moxibustion, a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned up over specific acupuncture points. Use of Chiropractic Care Manipulation of the spine is one of the most widely recognized and comprehensively studied forms of treatment available for acute lumbar back pain. Spinal manipulation and administration of NSAIDs are the two most successful treatments for low back pain. Spinal manipulation relieves the pain and restores proper functioning to the spine. Use of Massage The most effective type of massage therapy is neuromuscular. It is also called trigger point myotherapy. It consists of sporadic levels of concentrated pressure on the areas in pain. The pressure is usually applied with fingers, elbows or knuckles. The pressure should not vary for ten to thirty seconds once it is applied. Massage improves blood circulation, relaxes muscles for enhanced range of motion and increases the endorphin levels in the blood. Endorphins are the pain killers provided to us by nature. Take Care Chronic lumbar or low back pain can interfere with everyday life activities as sleeping and can prove catastrophic for concentration. How will you concentrate when your body is not at peace? Your mood may also be adversely affected.