At least 80% of individuals experience a significant episode of LBP at some point in their lives. A large proportion of these people will have no long standing effects on their life.
What causes Low back pain?
There are a number of structures with the low back that are capable of causing pain when stressed or damaged including the bones, discs, muscles, ligaments, joints, nerves or the spinal cord. Whilst the description of pain and the intensity of pain may vary between the structures involved they all share a common cascade of chemical events in response to this tissue damage that results in stimulation of the pain sensitive nerve fibres resulting in the sensation of pain. These chemicals are also involved in the inflammatory response, with swelling evident which also contributes to pain. The inflammation attributable to this cycle of events may persist for days to weeks.
How long will it last?
Fifty percent of episodes nearly completely resolve within two weeks, and 80% by six weeks. Unfortunately, the duration and severity of a single episode cannot be predicted based on the onset, location of pain, or even the initial severity. Excruciating initial pain may resolve within several days, while moderate or mild symptoms may persist for weeks. However, up to 30% of individuals will experience recurrent
What treatments should I have?
All evidence points to remaining as active as possible and guided by pain in the initial stages. Bed rest is no longer accepted treatment and may be harmful. Over the counter medication such as regular paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are very effective. If muscular spasm pain are prominent your general practitioner may advise a short course of diazepam.
When should I be concerned?
If your pain is not resolving with treatment within 6 weeks, medical advice should be sought. In some conditions, low back pain is a sign of a more serious process such as a fracture, infection or cancer and so medical advice should be sought earlier. This is more common in individuals over age 50, those with a history of cancer, those with severe pain at rest, with associated fever, with underlying medical problems such as diabetes, heavy alcohol or drug use, long time corticosteroid use, or osteoporosis. Pain in the legs, weakness, or difficulty with bowel or bladder control warrant immediate medical evaluation.
There are several possible causes of a ruptured disc. Most commonly, a ruptured disc is the result of normal wear and tear of the disc that occurs with aging. After the age of 30, the nucleus begins to lose it’s fluid, making you more susceptible to a ruptured disc. Spinal injuries, such as a sudden strain or increased pressure to the lower back, can also cause a ruptured disc. Degeneration of the disc, or degenerative disc disease, is known to cause a ruptured disc as well.