Back pain is caused by a range of problems related to nerves, connective tissues, bones, joints and back muscles and is a significant cause of disability. Conditions related to back pain can affect the neck, upper back and lower back as well as the sacrum and tailbone.
Back pain problems can be triggered due to issues associated with posture and injuries, diseases such as osteoarthritis, disc disease, osteoporosis, and some genetic conditions. Other factors which create back problems are age, physical fitness, smoking, being overweight, and the type of work a person does. Recently, studies show that back problems can have a significant genetic component as well.
Lower back pain falls under the most common forms of chronic pain among adults. According to a report published by AIHW, Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated about 4.0 million Australians, which is 16% of the population, have problems relating to back pain and that 70–90% of people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Another study revealed that among people with conditions related to back problem, 14% experience constant or persistent pain, and 86% experience pain one day per week.
Pains associated with back problems can have several different causes and symptoms. Some are listed below
- pain in the lower, middle and upper back is usually caused by a range of injuries and conditions
- pain, numbness and weakness and a tingling feeling in the legs is caused by lower back problems
- lower back pain can also be caused by narrowing in the canal of the spine through which the spinal cord passes
- degeneration of the joints in the spine can cause severe back pain
- pressure on a segment of nerves which are attached to the spinal cord
- pain in the neck is caused by disc degeneration
Although lower back pain can be very painful, mostly it does not reflect a serious problem and can be treated with some simple care. Physical activity or exercise is an important part of treatment for lower back pain. However, lower back pain can also be caused by serious disease or damage to the tissues of the back caused by a traumatic event such as a car accident or a serious fall. Other serious attributes of lower back pain can be sleeplessness due to pain in the back, and constant pain regardless of how you move or change position. Feeling numbness or tingling for prolonged periods can also be a symptom of serious back problem. In such cases, it is strictly recommended to seek advice from a health care practitioner as soon as possible.
Exercise as a remedy for lower back pain
Exercise is great for countering lower back pain. With no specific type of exercise being the best against lower back pain, staying as active as you can, will allow movement to back muscles which usually get stiff due to inactivity and cause pain in your lower back. Mild discomfort and pain can be expected as you start an exercise routine, but it will gradually go away as your muscles strengthen. It will also help you determine whether you need to consult a medical specialist if the pain does not go away after a few sessions.
Staying active does not essentially include extensive physical training. Lower back pain can normally be addressed through an active lifestyle. An active lifestyle means keeping yourself active by indulging in physical activities which promote body movement. If you enjoy gardening, for example, it would be great to do activities such as pottering, watering the plants and mowing grass. It will give you a feeling of happiness and satisfaction and keep you motivated at the same time since you enjoy gardening. Similarly, if you like it outdoors, you can go for a walk which is very healthy especially if your work requires you to sit in a chair for most of the day. You can find many ways to maintain an active lifestyle by just changing your perspective of everyday life.
If you do not exercise regularly, an episode of low back pain may be an indicator that you should start. It is very important to understand that you should exercise only to the extent where you are comfortable with it. Putting your body through too much or sudden exertion can be damaging instead of getting you better. If you don’t already have an exercise-oriented routine, then you must start slow and then gradually increase the level of activity accordingly. Exercises which involve simple stretching can be a great starter. Cycling, swimming, walking and jogging are also simple ways to keep you active. Yoga is also very popular and allows stretching and which can be very effective against lower back pains.
Lower back pain can be dangerous if it is persistent. Continuous pain in your lower back can be a symptom of serious disorder related to muscles, nerves or joints in your spine and neglecting it can lead to disability. If you feel constant pain in lower back or pain caused by certain types of movement whenever you perform activities involving those movements, you should instantly seek medical help. Such condition is dangerous, but it can still be resolved through proper assistance from physiologists. Physical training or specific exercises suitable to your condition will help lower the pain gradually since your spine and the surrounding muscles are designed for movement
Accredited exercise physiologists are specialists who can help you plan a suitable physical training program according to your preferred needs. If you have had multiple episodes of low back pain, it is important to seek professional assistance because the back muscles can respond differently after repeated bouts of back pain.
Your professional trainer or exercise physiologist will develop a graduated training program in which exercise recommended for you must become increasingly more difficult; but gradually. For example, if started with walking for 30 minutes, to gain further health benefits you will need to shift to jogging followed by running in the next stage. Similarly, your back muscles, particularly small muscles that stabilize the lower back, become weak because of lower back problems associated with inactivity. To regain muscle strength, you may need to follow specific strengthening exercises to progressively increase strength.