The lumbar spine is otherwise known as the lower back. It is made up of a complex structure of interconnected and overlapping tendons, muscles, sensitive nerves, nerve endings, discs, and other soft tissues:
A problem with any of these structures can cause pain that radiates out in to the surrounding areas, and can also be felt as referred pain in other parts of the body. Lower back pain can come in spasms, which are extremely painful episodes where the muscle contracts.
Lumbar back pain can be caused by various things. A simple cause might be a muscle strain from exercise or incorrect lifting of a heavy object, but the pain from this relatively commonplace injury can be excruciating. On the other hand you could experience some mild pain only occasionally, which in fact is actually the symptom of a degenerating disc. This could end up being seriously debilitating.
Therefore it’s extremely important to identify the symptoms and obtain an accurate diagnosis. before attempting to get any treatment, especially in the case of a home remedy. You need to make sure you are not missing something serious. Once you have a diagnosis you can seek treatment and pain relief.
Lumbar back pain can affect different age groups in different ways. People from the age of 30 to 60 are more likely to have back pain that is caused by a muscle strain or soft tissue strain, or pain from a herniated disc, or degenerative disc disease. People over 60 are more likely to suffer from lumbar back pain that originates from joint degeneration caused by osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis or from a compression fracture.
If your lumbar back pain comes on suddenly, particularly as the result of trauma or injury, and is accompanied by any of the following symptoms you should go straight to your local Accident or Emergency Department:
Fever, chills, leg weakness, sudden bladder or bowel incontinence (this could be something called cauda equina syndrome), severe, continuous abdominal pain (this could be an aortic aneurysm and is very serious).
Less sudden onset of lumbar back pain, such as aching after exercise or some hard work in the garden, still needs investigation, but doesn’t need to be seen straight away. Examples of this type of lumbar back pain are: achy dull pain, pain in the buttock that also moves round to the groin or upper thigh, but is rarely felt below the knee, muscle spasms, soreness to the touch. If the pain travels down to the buttock, leg and below the knee to the foot is is possibly sciatica – see previous blog posts for details of this.
When back pain comes on suddenly it’s called “acute” but when it has been going on for some time it is known as “chronic”. Lumbar back pain can often feel worse in certain positions, or when doing certain movements. Sitting in one position can cause the pain to worsen, so changing position often can help. Keeping active is now accepted as better for your lumbar back pain than lying flat on a hard floor, as was recommended by doctors in years gone by. Gentle walking or swimming can be beneficial, as can some back stretches. See other posts on this blog for information on stretches for lumbar back pain. Using an acupressure mat can be extremely beneficial, such as the Pranamat ECO. The array of small, pointed massage heads on the mat stimulate blood circulation through the area of pain, and as well as flushing toxins from the area, the effect of acupressure on the nervous system is to release nature’s own pain-killing endorphins.