According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, lower back pain is the second most common ailment in the United States.
It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. While low back pain is often an irritating and discomforting experience, more often than not it can be prevented and improved with proper exercise and diet.
A patient would either experience acute back pain or chronic LBP. Acute or shorter-term back pain often lasts within a very brief period of a few days to a few weeks. Acute LBP can also be caused by injury or trauma. Common causes of acute lower back trauma are sports injuries, improper lifting of heavy materials at home or work, and accidents. Muscle aches, limited flexibility, and shooting or stabbing low back pain are the common symptoms of acute back pain. On the other hand, chronic LBP is distinguished by its longer duration. This means if the LBP persists for more than 3 months the symptom is considered to be chronic.
Generally, chronic LBP are progressive and do not occur overnight. Moreover, the cause of chronic LBP is much more difficult to pinpoint as the disability may have developed over time.
Patients often complain of experiencing pain in the lumbar region of the spinal cord or lower back. This region supports the whole weight of the body and assists in maintaining balance throughout the body. Strain or stress in the lower back often causes discomfort and may aggravate further the condition of the lumbar region. Most often than not, patients complain of this back pain while lifting a heavy object or overstretching. Improper lifting of heavy objects causes stress in the lower back, particularly in muscles or ligaments in the lumbar region.
When the spine is overly strained and compressed, a disc may be ruptured and bulge outward. The rupture may place unnecessary pressure on the nerves in the spine, which trigger signals to the brain and in turn, is perceived as pain.
Depending on the physician’s diagnosis, pain in the lower back occasionally may require surgical treatment in cases where the diagnosis indicates a serious medical problem. An example would be an injury or trauma to the lower back caused by a blunt blow in a sports activity such as football. This type of injury may cause permanent disability as nerve roots protected by the spinal column could be damaged by the blow.
While injuries or trauma may occur while part-taking a physical activity, it is also important to understand that back pain may occur over time. Inactivity may also cause this back pain and discomfort over time if not properly addressed. Therefore it is always important to stay fit and undergo a regular exercise regimen to prevent injuries and improve health.
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