A Detailed Guide On Lower Back Pain Causes And Remedies

Nowadays, lower back pain is a common problem. Apparently, one out of every three people suffers from lower back pain irrespective of their age, and depending upon the cause of the pain, it can dissipate within a few days or last for more than a week.

However, understanding the proper lower back pain causes and remedies is very important to deal with the problem.

So without further ado, let’s understand in detail.

1. Anatomy of Lower Back

Before moving on to the topic, let us first understand the anatomy of the lower back.

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Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

The lower back(Lumbar spine) comprises 5 vertebral bones, intervertebral discs, muscles, and ligaments.

An inward curvature of the spine known as the lordotic curve helps in equal distribution of the weight which reduces the amount of stress in the lower back and an increase or decrease in lordosis is considered as a major reason for lower back pain.

Our lower back(Lumbar spine) comprises 5 vertebral bones(L1 to L5) placed one above another. The Vertebral bones protect our spinal cord. It also helps in the equal distribution of weight from the upper body to the lower body.

Between the vertebral bones are situated intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers and protect the vertebrae during movements.

Facet joints help in easy movement of the spine and help to connect vertebrae with the back of the spine.

The lumbar spine consists of nerves known as the lumbar spinal nerves. These lumbar spinal nerves in the lower back are labelled from L1 to L5 and have distinctive functions to perform.

2. Types Of Lower Back Pain

There are two types of back pain one can have and those are:

2.1. Acute Lower Back Pain

Most lower back pain happens due to heavy lifting, improper posture, or doing exercises in the wrong way. This type of lower back pain lasts for a few days or a week.

Acute low back pain is normally caused due to muscle pull, or wear and tear of the soft tissues and muscles.

Normally, physicians prescribe pain relievers to relieve the pain. Acute low back pain may worsen if not treated properly.

2.2 Chronic Lower Back Pain

Chronic back pain refers to the pain that continues even after the injury or cause of acute lower back pain has been resolved. Chronic pain lasts for more than three months or up to six months.

Some of the underlying factors that result in chronic back pain are:

  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Dysfunction of sacroiliac joints

Some of the treatment options that are suggested by the doctors for chronic low back pain are:

  • Anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants, or pain relievers to relieve chronic low back pain. Although, prolonged use of these medications is not recommended.
  • Acupuncture and laser therapy are also other effective treatments to get rid of chronic lower back pain.

So, if the pain continues for more than one week, it’s better to go to a doctor who can provide medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment so that the initial stage of lower back pain doesn’t develop into a chronic condition.

3. Symptoms

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Image by Robystarm from Pixabay

Nowadays, lower back pain happens in most age groups. Usually, the back pain starts as acute lower back pain and if not treated properly develops into a chronic condition

Sometimes, it can also be a numbing pain that happens down the legs which is called sciatica. One feels shooting or tingling sensations down the legs at that point.

Other symptoms of lower back pain can happen due to spinal stenosis. It is an unbearable pain that is experienced while walking or standing for a longer time.

Some other symptoms of lower back pain can happen due to sitting improperly.

It is necessary to identify the symptoms of lower back pain so that proper treatment options can be provided.

4. Lower Back Pain Causes And Remedies

Some of the common causes of low back pain are:

4.1. Cause 1

Damaged soft tissues and pulled muscles are some of the major reasons for lower back pain. Continuous heavy lifting, performing strenuous activities, or improper posture can damage the muscles of the lower back which can cause severe pain.

In this case, the lower back pain usually happens when there is wear and tear of soft tissues and inflammation occurs in the surrounding areas which results in severe pain.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Some of the symptoms of this lower back pain are:

  • Tremendous pain for a few days; pain increases with certain body movements.
  • The pain usually lasts for two to six weeks.

4.2. Cause 2

A herniated disc is one of the main reasons that causes of lower back pain. Intervertebral discs act as a shock absorber that helps in the easy movement of the body.

The interior of our spinal disc consists of a gel-like material known as the nucleus pulposus which is protected by a hard outer layer called the annulus. Sometimes, wear and tear or excessive pressure on the spine can lead to the crack of the outer layer of our spinal disc causing leakage of the inner material.

The release of inner gel-like material then irritates the nerve root, as well as nerve compression which causes pain down the buttocks.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Pain in one or both legs, the condition is also known as sciatica. Sciatica is caused due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The leakage of the interior spinal disc material affects the sciatic nerve causing pain or numbness down the legs.
  • This lower back pain can interfere with your daily activities as it tends to make you weak.

4.3. Cause 3

Degenerative disc disease is one of the main reasons that causes lower back pain in most aged people.

Our spinal disc mainly consists of water that dries and gets thinner with age. Thinner discs lose their ability to act as a shock absorber causing pain during movements.

4.4. Cause 4

Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal that happens mostly in aged people or people with an injury in their spine.

Our spinal cord consists of nerves that go through the tunnel known as the spinal canal. Lumbar spinal stenosis results in the decrease of the size of the spinal canal causing nerve compression and pressure on the spinal cord.

The main causes of lumbar spinal stenosis are osteoarthritis, ruptured discs, and many more.

Some of the symptoms of this low back pain are:

  • Moderate pain to excruciating pain in your lower back.
  • This back pain usually worsens while walking or standing for a longer time.

4.5. Cause 5

Osteoporosis is one of the main reasons that causes of lower back pain in both men and women. However, it affects women more, especially those who have attained their menopause.

Osteoporosis makes your bone fragile and even a small movement can cause a fracture.

The formation of bone is a continuous process where older bone cells break down and new bone cells are formed. But, in osteoporosis, new bone cells take time to form whereas, the old bone cells break down quickly which ultimately leads to less bone density.

Some of the symptoms observed due to osteoporosis are:

  • The bone becomes weak and breaks down easily.
  • Back pain is caused by an osteoporotic fracture.

4.6. Cause 6

Existing neurological conditions can also be a reason for your back pain. Our spinal columns are connected to nerves that are sensitive. Conditions like ruptured discs, and spinal stenosis are caused due to the excess pressure on the nerve causing pain.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke conducts research and provides information about nervous system disorders. The institute (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) also provides treatment of neurological disorders, including injury in the spinal cord.

5. Remedies

5.1. Remedy 1

Taking rest is one of the methods believed to alleviate lower back pain. Previously bed rest was one of the recommended methods to heal lower back pain. It was considered one of the best treatment methods for lower back pain relief.

But nowadays, bed rest for a longer time is not recommended, as it can worsen the situation. It can also hamper your mental health as well.

But taking rest for a definite time can heal your lower back pain significantly.

Usually, lower back pain happens due to improper posture or improper sleeping habits, so it’s very important to take a rest in a position that comforts you. Avoid a position that causes pain or can exaggerate low back pain.

If you are lying on your side, you can put a cushion between your knees and below your head to ease your lower back pain. If you are lying on your back, you can put a cushion below the knees for lower back pain relief.

Usually, low back pain heals on its own if one takes proper self-care.

5.2. Remedy 2

Spinal manipulation is another treatment method used for low back pain relief. The therapy is performed by physicians, therapists, and chiropractors.

In this therapy, controlled pressure is applied manually to the joints of your spine. Sudden pressure on the joints causes audible sounds like cracking and popping.

Spinal manipulative therapy is beneficial for those with low back pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain. This therapy is performed on those people who want to avoid surgery for their lower back pain.

However, some of the disadvantages of spinal manipulative therapy for back pain include stiffness, tiredness, and pain in muscles.

5.3. Remedy 3

Lower back pain causes and remedies
By Peggy_Marco, pixabay, Copyright 2021

Physical therapy is one of the recommended methods for low back pain relief. If low back pain continues for more than a week, physicians can recommend this therapy immediately.

This therapy differs according to the cause of the lower back pain, previous health conditions, and age. This therapy helps to reduce discomfort in the lower back without surgery.

Usually, this therapy is performed in two methods- Active physical therapy which includes exercises to relieve pain, and passive physical therapy which includes methods like heat and cold therapy, ultrasound, TENS units, and Iontophoresis to ease the low back pain.

Active physical therapy also includes exercises to relieve pain in your lower back. Exercises like core strengthening exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles, hamstring stretching exercises, and low-impact exercises should be done in the presence of therapists to relieve pain in your lower back.

Passive physical therapy is performed by therapists and includes different methods that are combined with different sets of exercises to relieve lower back pain.

5.4. Remedy 4

Heat and cold therapy are some of the easiest and most inexpensive methods that are practised by those suffering from lower back pain.

Heat therapy is one of the recommended methods to relieve back pain. This therapy increases the blood flow which reduces damage to muscles and stiffness caused by back pain.

The electric heating pad is one of the most convenient ways that can be used in this therapy to reduce pain in your muscles. Also, you can take a small towel. Dip it into hot water, wring out the excess water, and place the towel on the area causing pain.

Besides hot therapy, cold therapy is also an effective way to reduce back pain.

Cold therapy reduces damage to tissues, swelling, and inflammation. However, it should be done immediately after the injury for almost 24 to 48 hours.

You can use an ice pack, as it is an easily available option. Remember to put the ice into a thin towel before applying. One can also use gel packs for pain relief.

So, always remember to use cold therapy first, and then go for hot therapy to get rid of the rigid muscles.

5.5. Remedy 5

Lower back pain causes and remedies
By Bella Gitnik, pexels, Copyright 2021

Ultrasound therapy is done by therapists, specifically on those suffering from chronic lower back pain.

Before doing this therapy, the therapist applies gel on the skin creating a greasy surface. Then, hand equipment is used that produces vibrations that travel through the skin.

This therapy helps to relax the muscles and increase blood circulation which in turn helps to reduce back pain.

5.6. Remedy 6

A TENS unit is a portable device that uses low or high- or high-voltage electric currents that are delivered to the painful area through the electrodes placed on the skin.

The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation method helps to reduce back pain, as it blocks the pain signals sent to the brain.

5.7. Remedy 7

Iontophoresis is one of the effective methods of physical therapy that helps to treat low back pain.

This method uses an electric current to deliver medications to your injured area. If the medicine is negatively charged, then the therapist uses a negative electric charge that helps to deliver medications to the injured area, as we know charges repel each other.

6. Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Doing workouts is a great way to deal with lower back pain, as it helps to strengthen core muscles, and prevents low back pain by strengthening the lower back.

So, some of the recommended exercises that people can incorporate into their routine while dealing with their back pain lower back pain causes and remedies are:-

6.1. Exercise 1

Partial Crunch

Partial crunches are a great exercise to strengthen core muscles and the lower back. Weak abdominal muscles result in back pain, so practising core strengthening exercises helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles.

6.1.1. How to Do Partial Crunches

  • Lay flat on your back. Bent your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place both of your hands behind the neck, and tighten the stomach muscles.
  • Now exhale and raise your shoulders off the ground.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, and then return to the normal position.

Remember, while doing this workout, your feet should constantly touch the floor.

6.2. Exercise 2

Movement Monday - Pelvic Tilt for Low Back Pain

The pelvic tilt is a great exercise to reduce back pain, as it strengthens the back and abdominal muscles.

6.2.1. How to Do Pelvic Tilt

  • Lay flat on your back. Bent your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Rest your hands on both sides. Your palms should face down.
  • Do not lift your head. Your head should be touching the ground.
  • Now exhale and push the belly button towards the spine, flattening your lower back into the floor.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Now inhale and return to the neutral position.
  • Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.

6.3. Exercise 3

Wall squats to improve leg strength when you have back pain

Avoid doing sit-ups during back pain. Instead, one can practice wall sit exercise because it helps to improve posture, improve balance, as it engages the core muscles.

6.3.1. How to Do a Wall Sits

  • Stand straight. Your back should touch the wall.
  • Now place your feet flat on the floor. Maintain a shoulder-width distance between the feet.
  • Now slowly lower your body. While doing this, remember not to touch your feet to the wall, stick your back to the wall, and maintain a distance between your feet.
  • While lowering the body, your knees should bend making a 90-degree angle. Your knees should be above the ankles.
  • If you are doing this for the first time, hold this position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then slowly return to the normal position while touching your back to the wall.

6.4. Exercise 4

Low-impact aerobic exercises such as slow walking, swimming, or stationary bicycling for 15-20 minutes are recommended by therapists for people suffering from back pain.

Besides burning calories, aerobic exercise increases blood flow and reduces stiffness in the muscles which helps to relieve pain.

7. Lower Back Pain Diagnosis

If the back pain doesn’t end in a few days, it’s necessary to see a doctor. Based on the level of your pain, your doctor may recommend one or a few tests, and based on the outcome, methods are then recommended to ease back pain.

Some of the tests recommended are:

7.1. X-rays

Lower back pain causes and remedies
By Taokinesis, pixabay, Copyright 2021

If your back pain lasts for more than a few weeks, then your doctor might recommend this test. X-rays are performed to identify the root cause of low back pain such as arthritis1, or degeneration of the disks.

7.2. Blood Test

Blood tests are usually not recommended for back pain diagnosis, but if the doctor suspects inflammatory arthritis, reactive arthritis, or an infection, then they recommend this particular test.

Complete blood count, C-reactive protein, and Erythrocyte sedimentation rate are some of the blood tests that measure inflammation that may identify an infection or inflammatory arthritis.

7.3. MRI Scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a procedure that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to see inside images of a body. It can be done on various parts of the body. A person can also undergo an MRI scan if the person is suffering from back pain. It helps to identify the root cause of back pain.

Usually, doctors recommend this test if the person is suffering from back pain for more than a few weeks.

During an MRI 2scan, a person is advised to remove any metal objects, and also inform the doctor if the person has any metal implants in their body such as a pacemaker.

8. Risk factors

Some of the risk factors that increase the risk of back pain are:

8.1. Obesity

It is very important to maintain a healthy weight, as obesity negatively affects overall health. It also affects mental health.

Being obese can also be a reason for the pain in your lower back, as it causes excessive pressure on the lower back which causes the pelvis to move forward affecting the position of the spine.

Although obesity cannot be the only reason for your back pain, it can be a possible reason for developing pain in your back, so it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, to keep your weight under control.

8.2. Age

Ageing can also be another reason for developing pain in your back. Usually, pain starts at the age of 30, but it can also affect young people if they have a poor lifestyle.

Lower back pain increases with age because there are significant changes noticed within the spine. Our spinal column consists of vertebrae and in between the vertebrae, some discs act as a cushion, preventing the bones from rubbing against each other.

As your age increases, the disc between the vertebrae shrinks causing more pain in the back. Also, some of the symptoms such as spinal stenosis, and osteoporosis 3are noticed with increasing age.

So, to prevent back pain, it’s very important to exercise and maintain a decent lifestyle.

8.3. Lack of Physical Activity

One must always include exercise in daily routines such as walking, jogging, swimming, or aerobic 4exercises, as it has many health benefits.

Lack of physical activity for a long time can negatively impact your health. One can also experience pain in the back due to the lack of exercise.

Exercising makes the body more flexible. It also releases the body’s natural painkillers(Endorphins), whereas staying inactive increases the stiffness of the back making it less flexible.

Also, exercising during back pain helps to reduce the pain, as it gradually heals the pain.

9. Bottom Line

Now there you go, a list of causes, treatments, and remedies for back pain that one can look into.

Preventing back pain isn’t difficult if one is ready to include healthy choices in their lifestyle such as taking proper nutrition, doing workouts, or maintaining proper posture. But, even if you experience any kind of pain in your back, you should immediately consult a doctor before the pain gets worse.

Hopefully, this article helped you to know the causes and treatment options for back pain.

10. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. When Do I Worry About Lower Back Pain?

If the pain lasts four weeks or more. If the pain increases over time. If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, major weight loss or weight gain, loss of function or weakness in extremities, bladder problems, etc.

Q2. Can Gas Cause Back Pain?

Yes. Abdominal gas pain is felt in the upper back and abdominal gas pain in the lower back. Some gas is normal to our digestive system, many people pass gas up to 20 times a day.

Q3. What Is the Fastest Way to Relieve Back Pain?

You should try swimming, walking and yoga.

  1. Radu, Andrei-Flavius, and Simona Gabriela Bungau. “Management of rheumatoid arthritis: an overview.” Cells 10.11 (2021): 2857. ↩︎
  2. Wald, Lawrence L., et al. “Low‐cost and portable MRI.” Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 52.3 (2020): 686-696. ↩︎
  3. Clynes, Michael A., et al. “The epidemiology of osteoporosis.” British medical bulletin 133.1 (2020): 105-117. ↩︎
  4. Feng, Jiao, et al. “Emerging roles and the regulation of aerobic glycolysis in hepatocellular carcinoma.” Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 39 (2020): 1-19. ↩︎

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Ananya Pal

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