Did you know that around 50% of adults will have back or neck pain during the next year- that’s’ around 30 million people (ref backcare.org.uk).
Up to 85% of people have reported that they suffered from low back pain at some time in their life. The low back or lumbar spine is under constant stress and strain, especially if you’re an office worker or commuter who sits for long periods of time. The increased demands of sports training, manual work, pregnancy or those looking after their small children can also stress the low back further.
How is the lower back built?
The structure of the lumbar spine is made up of 5 lumbar vertebrae and in between each lies a disc comprising of an inner jelly held within a thicker layer of fibers, which keeps the whole thing in place. These discs act as shock absorbers throughout the spine, supported and aided by muscles and ligaments. The lumbar spine has a natural curve in its lower region called the lumbar lordosis. This is commonly an area for low back pain due to the angle and increased stress placed on this region.
What causes lower back pain?
Lower back pain can be classified as acute, lasting less than a month or chronic, lasting weeks, months or even years. The onset of low back pain can be acute due to lifting something heavy, or bending and feeling an immediate sharp pain in the low back. It can also be gradual, with no apparent reason for it starting.
Changes in activities or your routine can also aggravate the low back: a long car journey, painting the bathroom ceiling over a weekend, or coughing a lot.
There are many different causes of low back pain, from acute muscle spasm, disc problems or nerve pain – where the patient may experience a pain in the leg or foot, but the origin is in the low back.
Osteoarthritis or general ‘wear and tear’ commonly affects the hips, knees and lumbar spine region, causing pain and stiffness. This is one of the common causes of back pain.
When should we investigation it further?
It is also important to remember that some back pain is not due to a structural cause, and can come from your viscera, such as the kidneys, bladder or abdominal region. If this is the case, we will refer you to the relevant specialist and we have strong and established connections with local GPs. We will consider referral for further tests or investigations such as blood tests, X-rays and MRI scans if needed.