With up to 3 in 4 people having one or more bouts of lower back pain, it is one of the most common causes of lost work days in the UK. It is also pretty miserable!
In most cases the advice is to take some pain killers and stay active, although in some, more severe cases, further treatment may be needed.
What are the causes of lower back pain? There are various possibilities, though in many cases the actual cause is not known.
- Sprain (an over-stretch) of a ligament or muscle
- A minor problem with a disc between two vertebrae
- A minor problem with a small 'facet' joint between two vertebrae
Onset can be gradual, or it can occur immediately after lifting something heavy, or after an awkward twisting movement. Often people simply wake up with pain.
Treatment is generally conservative, which means that surgery is a last resort.
Initially pain killers may be prescribed, but ultimately the best treatment, and indeed the best way of avoiding further occurrences is through exercise.
While is the past, the advice was usually to rest until the pain eases, it is now known that this was wrong. You will recover more quickly and are less likely to develop chronic (persistent) pain if you get active as quickly as possible.
This means engaging in general exercise such as walking, running, cycling and swimming, combined with a program to strengthen and increase the flexibility in the core muscles.