Millions of Americans are affected by lower back pain, the majority of adults will go through at least one bout of back discomfort. These episodes often last a few days to a few weeks and are brief in nature.
Although it's simple to brush off lower back pain as a minor inconvenience, doing so might have major negative effects on your general health and well-being.
Understanding Lower Back Pain
Understanding the fundamentals of lower back pain is essential before exploring the reasons why it shouldn't be disregarded. Lower back pain is defined as a localized discomfort or pain that is felt above the hips and below the rib cage.
Its severity might range from moderate to severe and incapacitating. It is possible for lower back pain to be acute, lasting a few days or weeks, or even chronic, lasting months or even years.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
1. Muscle Strain:
Muscle strain is one of the most common causes of pain in the lower back. Overworking, incorrect lifting practices, or abrupt movements that strain the lower back's muscles and ligaments can all lead to this.
2. Herniated Disc:
When the tender inside of a spinal disc pushes through the robust outer, the condition is known as a herniated or slipped disc. This may irritate adjacent nerves, resulting in extreme discomfort.
3. Degenerative Disc Disease:
Pain and discomfort might develop as a result of the spine's discs degenerating over time.
4. Spinal Stenosis:
This disorder causes the spinal canal to narrow down, placing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and triggering pain.
Osteoarthritis can affect the joints in the lower back, leading to pain and stiffness.
An abnormal curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis, can cause lower back pain, especially if it progresses.
When to Seek Medical Attention
While some cases of lower back pain may resolve on their own with rest, self-care, and over time, there are instances when it's essential to seek medical attention promptly:
Severe constant pain that does not improve with rest and over-the-counter pain medications.
Weakness, numbness, and/or tingling in the legs.
Loss of bladder or bowel control can be a sign of a serious condition affecting the spinal cord.
A traumatic injury caused by a fall or accident.
Consequences of Ignoring Lower Back Pain
Now that we know more about lower back discomfort, let's look at why it shouldn't be disregarded. Ignoring lower back discomfort can have a number of negative effects on your physical health as well as your general well-being.
A. Increased Pain and Discomfort
Ignoring lower back pain has some direct repercussions, one of which is that the pain and discomfort may get worse over time. If left untreated, what may at first seem to be a mild discomfort might develop into a more serious and crippling condition.
Your quality of life can be substantially impacted by chronic pain, which can make completing daily tasks difficult or even cause disability.
B. Reduced Mobility and Function
Your range of motion may become limited when lower back pain worsens, which may also make it harder for you to participate in physical activities.
Reduced mobility may result in weight gain, muscle atrophy, and an elevated risk of other health issues, that can have a domino impact on your general health.
C. Emotional and Psychological Impact
Your mental health may suffer if you experience chronic pain, particularly lower back discomfort. Frustration, depression, anxiety, and even social isolation might result from it.
D. Risk of Developing Secondary Health Issues
Ignoring lower back pain can also increase the risk of developing secondary health issues. For example:
Herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or osteoarthritis are a few conditions that might cause lower back pain as a symptom. Ignoring the pain could potentially cause these diseases to worsen, necessitating more extensive treatments eventually.
Preventing Lower Back Pain
Prevention is always preferable to treatment, and there are several strategies you can employ to reduce your risk of developing lower back pain.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Practice Good Posture - Habits like chair yoga and walking can help immensely with this
Stay Active - Incorporate activities like walking, swimming, or yoga into your routine
Lift Properly and Carefully
Use Supportive Footwear
Stay Hydrated - Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and stiffness, which can worsen lower back pain.
If you are already experiencing lower back pain, there are several methods you can employ to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
A. Rest and Ice
Rest and the use of ice can help reduce inflammation and provide comfort in the acute phases of lower back pain. Avoid spending too much time in bed because it can cause muscle weakness.
B. Over-the-Counter Pain Medications
Ibuprofen or paracetamol, two over-the-counter painkillers, can temporarily relieve lower back pain. Use them as instructed and seek medical advice from your healthcare provider if the pain doesn't go away.
C. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can assist with posture and flexibility improvement as well as lower back muscular strength. To meet your unique needs, a physical therapist can design a program of exercises especially for you.
D. Heat Therapy
Applying heat to the affected area can help relax muscles and ease pain. Use a heating pad or warm bath for relief.
E. Prescription Medications
To treat severe lower back pain, medical professionals often prescribe stronger medications such as opioids or muscle relaxants. Use of these medications must be done under the guidance of your primary care provider.
F. Alternative Therapies
Many individuals find relief from lower back pain through alternative therapies like chiropractic care, acupuncture, or massage therapy. These therapies may complement traditional medical treatments.
G. Surgical Interventions
Surgery might be required for severe lower back pain with underlying structural problems. Surgical alternatives for herniated discs include discectomy, spinal fusion, or artificial disc replacement.
Lower back pain is a prevalent condition that, if untreated, can have catastrophic repercussions. However, you can reduce your risk of developing lower back pain and the issues that go along with it by being aware of the causes, getting medical help as soon as possible, and taking preventive steps.
Check out to the Access Health Care Physicians directory to consult a healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing lower back pain for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Leaving your back pain untreated can cause it to worsen and lead to more challenging health issues.
Contrary to popular belief, too much bed rest and sitting for long periods can do more harm than good when you experience lower back pain.
When experiencing discomfort of any kind in your lower back, it is important to seek medical attention right away.