Back pain / Lumbago:
The suffix “ago” signifies pain. Lumbago therefore means pain in the lumbar region.
The most common area for back pain is the lumbar region, which is commonly referred to as the lower back. This area is composed of 5 vertebrae that support the full weight of the upper body, putting the lumbar region under significant strain and thus increasing its fragility.
Did you know that about 80% of people will eventually suffer from this affliction?
Did you also know that lumbago is the primary cause of inability to work among individuals under 45 years of age, and the third most common cause among those aged 45 and over?
Stages of lumbago:
3 types of lumbago are discernible based on duration:
Acute, subacute and chronic:
Acute lumbago is a pain that can last up to 4 weeks. It can range from mild discomfort to inability to work or perform daily activities.
Subacute lumbago persists for longer than a 4-week period, and can even last up to 3 months. It is important to treat this condition, as it might become chronic.
Chronic lumbago is a constant pain that remains present for longer than 3 months. There are multiple causes for this condition, which are difficult to discern with any real precision. About 5% of lumbago cases develop into chronic conditions, and treatment in these cases can require a multidisciplinary approach (i.e.: treatment by several different professionals) if full recovery is to be achieved.
Lumbago is a symptom, the causes of which can be quite varied. In the majority of these cases, the lumbago will be characterized as “non-specific”, with no particularly significant trauma to any structure that could explain the pain.
The primary causes are:
• Damage to a muscle, tendon or ligament.
• Vertebral damage. This can range from disc degeneration (normal wear & tear) to hernia. Sports practitioners can also wear out specific regions more rapidly.
• Poor posture and excess weight are also significant causes of disc degeneration.
• Joint damage. Various types of arthritis (irritation) and arthrosis (wear) can trigger pain and stiffness in the lumbar region.
• Skeletal damage. Osteoporosis (embrittlement of a bone that has grown excessively porous) increases the risk of fracture. We can also sometimes find that certain vertebrae have become displaced onto others through congenital defects or trauma.
• Gynaecological problems. Through radiation or referred pain, women might experience lumbar pain during menstruation, among other times.
Regardless of the causes of back pain, the body will safeguard itself with muscle spasms, and these same spasms can themselves be the cause of pain or discomfort.
In certain situations, there may be pain that radiates into one or both legs, which is particularly felt behind the leg. This pain can be sciatica (irritation of the sciatic nerve).
Loss of sensation or strength in the legs might indicate neurological damage.
It is paramount that back pain be dealt with quickly. Doing so has been proven to decrease the likelihood of chronicity.
During your first encounter with a physiotherapist, you will undergo an initial assessment of your overall health, and your physiotherapist will then be able to specify the stage and causes of your lumbago.
The following treatment plan will involve reducing pain, increasing mobility and regaining comfort in your daily activities as well as during sporting and work-related activities.
Your physiotherapist might therefore apply manipulative therapy techniques during both the acute and chronic phases of your pain. The physiotherapist will also prescribe risk-free therapeutic exercises, and may give you advice about various factors such as your posture, your job, the use of applied heat and cold, etc.