Common causes of low back pain

Low back pain (LBP) is the most common musculoskeletal condition and will affect more than 80% of people at some point in their lives. It can be caused by a variety of different sources including but not limited to inactivity, excessive and improper lifting of objects, physical trauma to the area, arthritis and others. Anyone is susceptible to back pain; from office workers to construction workers and everyone in between.

Back pain can present itself in many ways. Some experience sharp pain of a specific region of the back, with aching pain radiating down one leg, while others report a dull aching in the back which worsens throughout the day but does not affect the legs. Regardless of how your back pain presents, it is important to know the importance of seeking attention of a physical therapist as soon as possible. Many scientific studies have shown the benefit of physical therapy treatment for lower back pain. Science also shows that the earlier that someone is seen following the onset of back pain, the better they typically respond to treatment and the more likely they are to avoid surgery.

Why is LBP so common? Low back pain can be caused by a traumatic incident such as lifting something too heavy, a car accident or any other cause which leads to immediate back pain. However, the cause is not always as easy to identify, as back pain can start slowly and gradually worsen with time. In this case, no specific event is to blame but more than likely the pain can be caused by prolonged sitting or standing, or repetitive movements required of us at work. The body functions best when a variety of movements are used throughout the day and oftentimes will become painful in the back if we sit or stand for hours and hours. 

What can you do to avoid LBP? MOVE! For those folks who sit most of the day at a computer, be sure to stand up and walk around for a couple minutes every hour. Stretch out those back and shoulder muscles during the day or when you get home. Trust me, you’ll feel better if you do.

For those folks on the opposite end of the spectrum, who stand most of the day at work: be sure to take a seated rest break once every few hours, if only for a few minutes. Reach forward for your toes and stretch out those lower back muscles. It should feel good to do this after a long period of standing.

Some who are reading this will undoubtedly still have pain despite making these changes. This is especially true if your back pain has been around for a few years or more. In these situations, its important to remember that you only get one body. If it hasn’t gone away on its own for years, its not likely that it will improve without making a change. Physical therapy is often highly effective in treating most types of back pain and has been shown to be as effective as surgery! Maybe its time to give it a try!