Lower Back Pain Basics

February 15, 2017


Lower back pain episodes, that resolve within 2 weeks, are typically caused by muscle strain or spasm. Even though this doesn’t sound serious, the pain can be severe. Strains, muscle spasms and other issues in the lumbar portion of the back are common because this area bears much of the body’s weight during walking, lifting, and other activities.

Problems arise when any part of the complex, interconnected network of muscles, nerves, discs and tendons become inflamed or injured. Sources of low back pain include strained or spasming muscles; irritated nerves; damaged bones, ligaments or joints; or issues involving disc degeneration.

Emergency Treatment

If you experience these symptoms, in conjunction with lower back pain, you should seek immediate treatment.

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Severe pain in legs or inability to bear weight on leg(s)

At Home Treatment

If pain is inconvenient, but not debilitating, most people start pain management and treatment at home. Most muscle inflammation and strain issues will resolve within 2 weeks of at home care. If you try these treatments and they fail to improve pain and mobility after 2 weeks, it may be time to consult a doctor.   

  • One or two days of rest for your back to minimize stress on the area.  
  • Application of ice and heat. Generally speaking, ice reduces inflammation and heat increases blood flow and relaxes muscles. Ice is typically recommended within the first 48 hours with heat used thereafter.
  • Over the counter pain relief medication ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin or acetaminophen. Please consult your doctor about which is best and to confirm that they are safe for you to take.
  • Adjust sitting and posture to take stress off the lower back.
  • After brief period of rest, resume light exercise if possible such as walking short distances, gentle stretching and yoga or water activity.

Doctor Treatment

If lower back pain does not start to subside within one to two weeks, and continues to interfere with mobility and daily activities, consider seeking medical attention. Physicians can identify the source of pain and determine the best course of treatment.  Common treatments include, massage or physical therapy, prescription medications, steroid injections, and other pain management techniques. Surgical treatment is rare, but may be indicated for issues involving bone and disc degeneration.

If you have been suffering from chronic lower back pain for some time, consider a consultation with Dr. Berkowitz and his team at Center for Orthopedics. Call 440-329-2800.

Entry Filed under: Back and Spine. Posted in  Back and Spine .

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