What is Lumbago? Causes, Diagnosis and TreatmentLow back pain, also called lumbago, is a clinical condition that affects millions of individuals across the globe. In most of these individuals, the pain can start rather gradually and can persist for a lifetime. In some of them, it can start fairly suddenly and can seriously debilitate them.
Causes of LumbagoMost cases of lumbago have no clear cause. Many a time, excessive stress and strain of the low back can cause minute tears in the ligaments that form a part of the vertebral column and this can cause some degree of pain. Occasionally, a disc that lies in between the vertebral bodies may protrude out of its space and compress upon the nearby nerve fibers, causing pain.
Additional causes of lumbago include spasm of the muscles that lie next to the spinal column i.e.the paraspinal muscles and thinning of the bones of the vertebra resulting in a collapse or fracture (due to osteoporosis).
Clinical Symptoms of LumbagoMajority of the patients experience a great deal of low back pain that is either localized to the area around the spine or spreads to the nearby areas as well. The pain tends to be minimal when the patient is at rest but can get worse when they start to move. Patients may have difficulty performing their day-to-day activities and can be tremendously limited in what they can do at home. Some agents tend to adopt an odd posture in order to keep the pain at bay. On occasion, a slipped disc can compress upon the nerve fibers that emerge from the lower back, causing radiation of pain down both the legs. This condition is called as sciatica.
DiagnosisA diagnosis is often made through clinical history. Additional investigations may be performed such as an x-ray, CT scan or an MRI scan. While these tests may demonstrate some form of pathology, in those that there is no underlying condition that is causing the lumbago, these investigations can be completely normal.
Lumbago TreatmentIn the event that a patient develops acute lumbago i.e. sudden pain in the lower back, a simple course of over-the-counter painkillers can help. Commonly used painkillers that are effective include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs along with certain muscle relaxants. Patients are encouraged to keep themselves moving rather than take rest. Some patients find benefit from placing heated pads on the affected area. Patients are requested to sleep on a firm surface and to avoid straining themselves too much.
In cases where the back pain has been long-standing, performing additional investigations is often pointless. Such patients can benefit from physical therapy along with conservative treatment options such as painkillers. Massage therapy is found be helpful in some cases. Some patients have even benefited from acupressure and acupuncture. Depending upon the cause, other treatments may be effective though in most cases they do not get rid of the cause of the pain but only offered pain relief.