Back Pain & Strain
Over 80 percent of people in the developing countries suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. This entry addresses lower back pain, the most common of all back problems.
Lower Back Pain(LBP) :
Lower back pain, sometimes called lumbago , is typically concentrated below the waist, in the small of the back, and there the pain, sometimes, but it also can occur after such simple activities as vacuuming, picking sometimes up from the floor, twisting awkwardly, or coughing or even for no apparent reason at all.
Caracteristic features/symptoms of LBP :
It can be experienced as a nagging ache that develops gradually and never quite disappears, or as an instantaneous eruption of agonizing pain. Once the pain begins, you may freeze in position and be reluctant to move for fear of making it worse. The pain is likely to be more bearable when you are standing or lying down and worse when you are sitting, because sitting increases the pressure on the back muscles.
Many people assume an aching back is an inevitable part of growing older, but that isn't necessary so. It is true that advancing age and certain conditions account for some backaches, but most are caused by stress, muscle spasms, and / or muscular weakness.
This condition most often strikes people in their thirties and may then recur off and on, for the rest of their lives. "Weekend athletes" people who get significant exercise only occasionally are particularly at risk. People who live sedentary lives, whether by choice or because their occupations keep them chained to a desk during the week, are usually out of shape. An occasional game of basketball with friends, a run around the park, or a friendly set of tennis can trigger painful muscle spasm as lax muscles are pushed to perform athletic feats and cannot respond adequately.
Lower back pain can also be linked to sleeping in a bed that is too soft, sitting for too long in a poorly designed chair, or spending long hours behind the wheel driving a bus fro example. This type of back pain is sometimes called posture pain. Other common factors in back pain include pregnancy and obesity. People carrying extra weight tend to have weaker abdominal muscles, which puts added strain on the back muscles. Stress has been identified as a major factor in back pain as well.
While most back pain is muscular in nature, there are a number of other conditions that can cause this kind of pain. These include disorders of the kidneys and problems with the bones, disks, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and joins of the spine. If back pain does not begin to improve within a few days, see your doctor.
Treatment for back pain & strain :
A doctor is likely to recommend painkillers to make you more comfortable. There are different classes of pain medication that may be used. If the pain is not too severe, acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril, and others) may be sufficient. If not do not take more than the recommended dosage in an attempt to get relief, but try a different medication. While acetaminophen is generally considered quite safe in recommended doses, taking too much can cause liver damage.
When the body is injured, its natural response is to send more blood and fluids to the area, and to sensitize the nerves there. The result is pain and inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) decrease this response. This class of drug includes aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin, and others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, and others), Indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), and sulindac (Clinoril). Some of these drugs are available over the counter, others by prescription. All of them have the potential to cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, liver or kidney damage, and gastrointestinal irritation, particularly with long-term use.
For severe, incapacitating pain, a narcotic such as codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone or memperidine may be prescribed. These are powerful drugs that block the body's perception of pain. Possible sides effects include drowsiness, nausea, constipation, dizziness, itching, and low blood pressure. In addition, with all of these drugs, there is a tendency to develop tolerance a situation in which stronger and stronger doses are required to achieve the same effect as well as physical dependence.
Muscle relaxants, like carisoprodol (Soma), chlorzoxazone (parafon), cyclobenzaprone (Flexeril), and methocarbamol (Robaxin), are sometimes prescribed to interrupt the painful spasms that occur with strained muscles. Potential side effects of these drugs include drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, and blurred vision. There is also a fairly high potential for abuse with these medications.
Physical therapy may be worth trying, if your health insurance policy provides coverage for it. Surgery is not appropriate for muscular or other soft tissue injuries, but is reserved for cases of true damage to the disks or vertebrae.