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Understanding Low Back Pain

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Understanding Low Back Pain

4 min read


Lower back pain can be caused due to an injury, disease, or a medical condition. This article will discuss lower back pain in detail.

Written by

Dr. Anuj Gupta

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At January 25, 2019
Reviewed AtJanuary 19, 2023


Low back pain is the second most common ailment, with the common cold being the first. Previously, low back pain was considered age-related, that is, mostly seen in older individuals. So, it was considered a pain due to weak muscles and weak bones. But nowadays, back pain is quite common in the young population and even in small school-going children. There have been a lot of studies going on to reveal the exact cause of low back pain. There have been studies about posture, daily physical activities, work ergonomics, etc.

Going back in time, around 100 years back, when the world had fewer technologies and there were no smart gadgets available, the lifestyle of a normal person was completely different from the present day. A young man used to go to his or her school, college, or workplace on foot. He used to walk for 10 km or more a day. He used to do farming or take care of pets which itself was a heavy job. Keeping in mind that picture, let us talk about the current situation.

These days, we have smart gadgets. With one click, one can have food or a taxi or almost anything at his door. Physical activity has significantly reduced. Automobiles are easily available to everyone. We hardly need to walk the whole day. We give more time on our mobiles as compared to our friends. You must be wondering, we are all aware of this fact, but how is it connected to low back pain?

Our physical activity has reduced which, is responsible for weak core muscles. Most of the time, we are on mobiles or laptops which is responsible for improper posture. Our spine is not made to bear weight in that posture. In one study, it was found that our spine has to bear 50 % more weight in a slump sitting position as compared to a standing position. The slump sitting position is the same as when we are working on computers.

What Are the Symptoms of Lower Back Pain?

A person can experience lower back pain at any instance. In fact, the causes can differ from person to person. One individual may feel lower back pain while bending, and some may feel the pain while sitting.

The most common signs and symptoms of lower back pain are,

  • A dull or sharp pain, at times unbearable.

  • The pain may worsen while doing a particular activity.

  • A popping sound can be heard while straining the back.

  • While rising from a chair or taking a stair, an individual may feel stiffness at the back. It may take some time for that particular individual to stretch their back.

  • The ones having lower back pain tend to have bad posture since they will not be able to stand straight.

  • Muscle spasms are very common with a lower back strain.

  • A burning pain sensation starts from the lower back and progresses towards the thighs and legs.

What Are a Few Conditions or Diseases That Can Cause Lower Back Pain?

As mentioned earlier, lower back pain can be caused by medical conditions and diseases apart from injuries. The common injuries and diseases that cause lower back pain are,

  • A fracture of the bone or the spine in the lower back can cause lower back pain. The injury to the bone can be caused due to a motor vehicle accident or conditions like spondylosis or osteoporosis, where the bones become weak and prone to fractures easily.

  • Osteoarthritis is another common condition causing lower back pain. It occurs when the cartilage of the bone is worn out.

  • The spine is cushioned by discs. These discs can bulge or swell, causing immense lower back pain.

  • Spondylolisthesis is a condition involving a misplaced spine bone. It causes lower back pain and leg pain.

  • Spine tumors and kidney stones are a few of the diseases causing lower back pain.

How to Diagnose the Conditions Causing Lower Back Pain?

The causes of lower back pain can be diagnosed with the help of the following tools.

How to Treat Lower Back Pain?

An orthopedician and physiotherapist together will treat the lower back pain depending on the severity.

  • Firstly, the doctor will prescribe painkillers, mostly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease the pain.

  • In severe cases, steroid injections will be injected into the space causing the pain, to relieve the same.

  • Physiotherapy is an essential part of managing lower back pain. A physiotherapist will teach a few muscle strengthening exercises to prevent further injury and improve flexibility.

  • Some injuries may need surgical intervention. Today’s medical advancement provides numerous minimally invasive techniques to heal lower back pain causing injuries.

  • Chiropractic adjustments and massage therapies are also believed to relieve lower back pain.

What Are the Self-Remedies for Lower Back Pain?

To start, you should know your back pain first.

  • Is your pain confined to your back or is it radiating to one or both of your lower limbs? You need to see your doctor if your pain is radiating.

  • Is your back pain associated with fever, weight loss, or loss of appetite?

  • Is it associated with weakness in your lower limbs or loss of bladder and bowel control?

1. Do regular core muscle strengthening exercises:

  • You need not waste money on gyms.

  • Just five to ten minutes of strengthening exercises would be sufficient.

2. Maintain proper posture:

  • This is the most important part of treatment.

  • You should change your work ergonomics.

  • If you have a desk job, then use the desktop with a keyboard under the table.

  • Use a slanting board for writing.

  • Do not slouch on your chair. You should not slump during prolonged sitting.

  • You should not recline more than 100 to 110 degrees.

  • Avoid watching television or reading while lying down in an improper posture.

3. Walk daily for 4 km at a stretch:

  • Studies have revealed that the person should walk a minimum of 4 km at one go in a day to keep his back muscles healthy.

  • If you are not used to walking, then you can start with shorter distances and increase it gradually up to 4 km.


Lower back pain can be mild and miserable sometimes. Often extreme pain is associated with some serious medical condition. It is always advisable to care for the first sign of lower back pain as, at times, it may progress to cause non-reversible damages.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Types of Low Back Pain?

There are three types of lower back pain, which include-
- Non-specific Muscular Pain- Most common and caused due to twisting, lifting, stretching, or sudden unexpected movement such as a fall.
- Muscle Spasms- Caused due to bending or heavy lifting, which usually starts with a specific incident rather than chronic use.
- Radicular Pain- Caused due to degeneration of the disc (shock absorbers) or pinching of one or more nerve roots.


What Causes Lower Back Pain Most Frequently?

The slow degeneration of spinal joints with age, called arthritis of the spine, is the most frequent cause of lower back pain. When the cartilage starts breaking down between the spinal joints, it causes inflammation of the surrounding tissues. This increases friction between the joints causing pain in the lower back.


How Do You Tell if Your Back Pain Is Spinal or Muscular?

Muscular pain is often localized and feels more like a post-workout soreness in the back. In the morning, the muscle feels tightened. On the other hand, spinal or disc pain feels debilitating and tingly and may radiate to the shoulders, arms, buttocks, and legs.


What Does a Slipped Disc in the Lower Back Feel Like?

A slipped disc in the lower back feels like-
- Muscle spasms, weakness, or overactive reflexes.
- Pain in the spine extends to the shoulders, arms, hands, legs, and feet.
- Pins and needles sensation, numbness or tingling, and burning sensation radiating from the spine.


Which Three Factors Can Lead to Lower Back Pain?

The three causes of lower back pain are-
- Muscle or ligament strain.
- Bulging or ruptured discs (shock absorbers between the spinal joints).
- Arthritis (inflammation of the spine).


What Is the Fastest Way to Relieve Lower Back Pain?

Exercise to loosen the muscles and gentle stretching are two effective methods to relieve lower back pain. Using hot and cold packs is also helpful in reducing inflammation and soothing the pain.


Can One Walk With Lower Back Pain?

The pain in the lower back makes it difficult for standing and walking. This is because the pressure increases on the spine while standing and walking. This increased pressure leads to the tightening and spasm of the lower back muscles.


Which Type of Cancer Causes Lower Back Pain?

Blood and tissue cancers can all cause lower back pain. These cancers may include-
- Multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells).
- Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).
- Melanoma (most severe skin cancer).


Which Organ Causes Lower Back Pain?

Kidneys are most often responsible for lower back pain. The two most common issues with the kidneys that cause lower back pain are kidney stones and kidney infections. Kidney stones can lead to pain on either side or one side of the lower back.


How to Sleep With Lower Back Pain?

Five sleeping positions that help during lower back pain-
- Lying on the side with a pillow supporting the knees.
- Lying on the side in a fetal position.
- Lying on the back in a reclining position.
- Lying on the stomach with a pillow beneath the pelvis and lower abdomen.
- Lying flat on the back with a pillow below the knees.


Does Lying on the Floor Help With Lower Back Pain?

Although no scientific evidence suggests that sleeping on the floor helps with lower back pain, many people claim otherwise. However, sleeping on the floor does not cushion the pressure points, such as on the hips and shoulders. This can lead to further stiffness and discomfort.


Which Exercise Is Best for Lower Back Pain?

Strengthening exercises and stretching can help stabilize the lower back and support the upper body. Walking, biking and swimming may also help with lower back pain. Again, one should start with short sessions and build it over time.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Anuj Gupta
Dr. Anuj Gupta

Spine Surgery


back pain
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