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Acute lower back pain – causes and treatment options
For most people who experience back pain, piercing pain occurs in the area of the lower back, completely out of the blue. Usually, the trigger is a harmless movement during exercise or daily activities. Even a simple movements like bending down, turning or straightening up can trigger back pain. Due to the severity of the back pain, a herniated disc is often assumed as the cause. However, acute lower back pain often has more harmless causes and will heal without complications.
Recognizing acute lower back pain
Acute onset low back pain – also commonly known as lumbago – is a very strong, piercing pain that suddenly appears in the area of the lumbar spine. Due to this shooting pain, movement is initially restricted or not possible at all. Even the smallest movement is so painful that affected people remain in a bent-over position. The pain and the resulting posture to help relieve this pain, cause cramping of the muscles in the lower back, which in turn increases the pain – an agonizing situation for those afflicted.
Causes of lower back pain
Lower back pain is usually triggered by everyday stresses on the spine and the back during exercise and general daily activities. Due to the severity of the back pain, a herniated disc is often assumed as the cause, but this condition is rarely responsible for low back pain. Lumbago is mainly caused by a blockage of an intervertebral joint or by tense or cramping back muscles. Inappropriate mechanical stress and overexertion are the most common causes of acute lower back pain.
Acute lower back pain – treatment duration
After lumbago, it is best to rest for a day or two. After that, however, it is important to slowly get back to daily and usual movements. The pain may persist for another four to five days. During certain movements – such as turning or bending down – it is possible that slight pain occurs in the lower back for up to another two weeks after acute low back pain. If the pain does not subside after one to two days, if accompanying urination or bowel movement problems occur or if you notice numbness or paralysis in the legs, contact your doctor as quickly as possible.
First steps for treatment of acute lower back pain
In case of lumbago, rest is the first remedy of choice. Since sitting and standing are often painful, walking slowly or lying down is recommended. It is best to lie flat on the back, with legs elevated. In order to relieve strain on the lower back, the legs should be at a right angle at the hips and knees. To achieve this, cushions and blankets can be placed in such a way as to form a step with a 90 degree angle. The legs can be put on top of this. This position may not be particularly comfortable but effectively alleviates the pain. Alternatively, you can lie flat on the floor, placing the lower legs on a chair. In addition, heat treatments such as a hot water bottle, warming cherry stone pillows, warming creams or a hot bath will relax the muscles and decrease pain.
Acute lower back pain – treatment and prevention
The treatment of low back pain primarily focuses on pain relief. People affected from low back pain will usually be prescribed anti-inflammatory painkillers as well as medication that relieves muscle cramps. Additionally, slow movements, heat treatment and lying down with your legs elevated are recommended.
In the event of an intervertebral joint blockage, manual resetting of the vertebra by a physical therapist may be necessary. Physical therapy, massages and acupuncture can strengthen the back muscles in the long term to avoid lumbago in the future.
As tense back muscles can also be caused by stress, applying progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen has proven very effective. This is a relaxation technique focuses on tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups in sequence. Other methods such as autogenic training or yoga can also have positive effects on the back.
Acute pain relief and follow-up care using back supports
After an episode of acute low back pain, some people suffer from persistent or intermittently recurring back pain. Medical back supports help conventional treatment, and can contribute in the prevention of future low back pain. Supports will also protect and relieve strain on the back during exercise or work. Back supports such as the Bauerfeind LumboTrain stabilize the lumbar spine during and after acute low back pain, thus alleviating pain and easing tension. The active support features a triangular massage pad with nubs massaging the area to relieve pain.
Because Bauerfeind back braces are made from a soft, breathable knit, the LumboTrain back support is low-profile and extremely comfortable. LumboTrain can also be adjusted to ensure a perfect fit for all body shapes, and the LumboTrain Lady variant is tailored specifically to the characteristics of the female body.