What are the main kinds of injuries and problems that generally lead to lower back pain?

The main kinds of injuries and problems that lead to nonspecific lower back pain include: Overuse or overload injuries caused by heavy, repetitive or improper lifting; bad posture; age related problems such an Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis and general age related degenerative changes and trauma related events such as sports and car accidents, falling from a height and slipping on ice.

Luckily many of the above injuries and problems can be prevented. Learning how to properly pick up a load will help avoid a back injury; regular exercise will strengthen the back muscles and vertebrae reducing the risk of a back injury while extra care and attention can help reduce the risk of a fall.

What are some tips to reduce existing lower back pain?

  1. Immediate and proper diagnosis by a health professional is the first step. The physiotherapist or M.D. must first diagnose the problem in order to set up the proper treatment that will be most effective in addressing the underlying issue causing the lower back pain. Self-diagnosis is not advised, while a delay in starting the appropriate treatment is dangerous. leaving the back pain untreated means dangerous loads on unhealthy tissues and structures which may aggravate the pain to a disabling level as well as lead to disc herniation and neurological symptoms such as: weakness of the legs, tingling and even the need for surgery. Thus it must be emphasized. Seek immediate medical help if you have moderate to serious lower back pain or had an injury that affected your back.
  2. Proper sitting posture is important for everyone including those suffering from lower back pain as an improper sitting posture can lead to an increase in the already existing pain.Proper sitting posture is achieved by sitting on a good chair, the hips all the way back and both feet on the floor. A lumbar roll (a small pillow specifically designed to maintain the normal curvature of the lumbar spine) is highly recommended.
  3. Staying on the move – that is- trying to avoid a static posture like stooping or   prolonged sitting will help reduce the chances that the pain will get worse. Stand every hour or so, do 2 minutes of stretching or walk 30 seconds and then go back to sitting in a proper posture.
  4. Driving is very stressful on the back so try to stop the car every hour and a half for a 2 minute break to do some stretches.
  5. Careful when you lift things! Avoid lifting heavy loads during the first 2 hours of the morning as the discs are very fragile at this time. If you absolutely need to lift a heavy object then follow the lifting method of bending and lifting with the knees and not with the back. As well, be close to the object that you want to lift as this reduces the load on the back.

Richard Bouzaglou is a certified physiotherapist who is the director of Physiotherapy services at the AMS Clinics in Montreal. He can be reached at Richard.bouzaglou@amsclinic.ca.