Acute vs Chronic Low Back Pain
If you’ve ever experienced a dull ache or perhaps sharp, severe pain in your back region, then you could be suffering from lower back pain.
Studies have revealed that, about 80% of people at one point of their life or the other will suffer from lower back pain. This pain can afflict people of any age - from children to adults - however, it most often affects adults between the ages of 35 to 55 years.
The effect of low back pain in your life could manifest in various ways. Pain can have an impact on all areas of your life, it’s not just the physical aspect, but can lead to emotional turmoil, dependence on medication, social isolation, issues at work, emotional distress and fatigue due to poor quality of sleep. Soon, simple daily routines become an issue.
If this continues, it could lead to a poor quality of life punctuated with bouts of hopelessness.
It doesn’t stop there, it may get worse.
When it gets to the point when it feels like there is no end in sight to the pain, it causes strained emotions and could even lead to clinical depression.
In this post, we are going to examine:
· The types of low back pain
· The symptoms to look out for
· The potential causes of low back pain
· Ways of treating low back pain.
Let’s get started.
Types of Low Back Pain
Low back pain could last for a few days (short term), or, it could last for months (Long term). This leads to its classification according to the length of the symptoms.
Acute Low Back Pain
This pain occurs abruptly and lasts for a number of days or weeks. Studies have shown the source of its pain is usually an inflamed joint, degenerative disc or tight muscles.
Chronic Low Back Pain
This is the long term back pain that lasts up to and even longer than 3 months. Experts have found it hard tracing its source, however, most findings have pointed to arthritis, tissue scarring and nerve damage as possible causes. Chronic Lower back pain can be felt for the whole span of the months while it lasts or worsen with specific activities.
Now, you should know that the length of the pain doesn’t exactly indicate how severe the condition is. They both may indicate serious or minor issues.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain
The symptoms of low back pain vary from being merely annoying to being severe and debilitating. The symptoms could start slowly or suddenly, and it could gradually worsen over time. So it all depends on the underlying cause of the pain.
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
· Pain radiating down the sides, front or back of your leg
· Persistent pain confined to your lower back
· Constant pain at night and with sitting for long periods
· Numbness around the genitals
· Loss of bowel control
· Difficulty standing straight
· Muscle spasms in the low back, hip and pelvis.
Potential Causes of Low Back Pain
This is also referred to as a bulging disc, slipped disc or prolapsed disc. The spine consists of vertebrae; in between the vertebra are discs which act as shock absorbers, the discs are made up of tough connective tissue with fluid component in the center, much luck the caramel inside chocolate. Discs are normally flexible and strong to support movement and protect the spine. However as the discs are made of soft tissue they can be prone to injury and degeneration. Herniation of the disc occurs when a disc bulges outward, causing the spongy gel in the disc to escape through a rupture or crack into the spinal cord. This then leads to pressure being applied on the nerves, hereby leading to pain.
This condition is caused by the narrowing of a nerve passage way or the spinal canal. This narrowing leads to significant pressure being placed on the nerve, hereby leading to numbness, pain and weakness.
This is a kind of bacterial infection which could occur in one of the spine’s bone.
This condition develops as a result of the compression of the sciatica nerve which is located in the lower back. This causes a sharp tingling pain that radiate down the leg and round the buttocks.
This occurs when the bones become frail, weak and very likely to break. When the vertebrate of the spine becomes porous, there is a likelihood of fracture.
This refers to an abnormal growth of cell that could be malignant or benign.
Degenerative disc disease
This is a condition where the disc in your spinal cord loses hydration and wears down. This can make you susceptible to spinal problem and cause distressing low back pain.
This is also referred to as spondylosis. It is a degenerative problem that affects the spine’s facet joints. It could also lead to bone spurs developing.
What to Do to Make your Lower Back Pain Better
Tense muscle can be relaxed with the heat from an electric heating pad or warm bath. This heat will help to bring about blood flow which promotes oxygen and nutrients required by your body to stay healthy.
The ice therapy on the other hand is especially useful when your pain occurs as a result of inflammation to bring down the swelling.
Ensure your skin is well protected when applying these therapies to avoid the risk of tissue damage.
The muscles in your hips, buttocks, legs and low back are essential in supporting the weight of your upper body. Stretching may assist to help ease tight muscles which are one of the common causes of back pain.
You should start with small stretches lasting no more than 30 seconds and stop if the stretching causes pain.
Your chronic and acute pain might be as a result of an area of weakness in your body causing tension in another. The strengthening exercise works to strengthen underused and weak muscles. Your core muscles – the hip, abdominal and gluteus muscles- help support the spine. Strengthening them with exercise may assist with low back pain.
You should take care not to forcefully or excessively flex your spine when exercising.
Low Impact Aerobics
If your pain is due to an injury, low impact aerobic exercise can support your healing process by increasing blood flow in your body. Exercise like walking, using an elliptical machine or a stationary bike. When your spinal structures are unused over a period, it could lead to discomfort and stiffness. Low impact aerobic exercise helps maintain the flexibility range of a healthy spine.
In recent studies, a review of 32 randomised control trials have indicated that acupuncture can have a positive effect on the treatment of chronic nonspecific low back pain pain and a review of 11 randomised controlled trials has found acupuncture to be more effective than NSAIDS when treating acute low back pain symptoms.
If you’d like to try acupuncture – the effective, safe and low intervention therapy – to relieve your low back pain, Contact us today.
1. Peloza, J; Lower Back Pain Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment ; SPINE-health; April 22, 2017
2. McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd; 2017. http://www.acupuncture.org.au.