Lower Back Pain

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is the medical term for pain in the lower back, in the region of the lumbar vertebrae, located under the last vertebra that has a rib (the vertebrae that go from D12 to S1). These pains can go down to the buttocks, or even to the back of the knees. It is a very common condition, usually not serious. It can happen at any age, especially in teens and in their 40s.

What are the types of lower back pain?

There are three types of low back pain, acute, chronic and recurrent.

  • Acute lower back pain or lumbago refers to acute pain that can last one to three weeks. Despite its relatively short duration, the pain can lead to a great deal of discomfort, sometimes requiring that all activity be stopped for a period of time. Usually, acute low back pain goes away on its own.
  • Chronic lower back pain can last more than 3 months. It is less common than acute low back pain. But if it is not treated in time, it can develop into a chronic condition over time. People who suffer from it should consider a significant change in their lifestyle.
  • Recurrent lower back pain is a series of acute painful episodes that are repeated at more or less regular intervals, the duration of which can vary from a few months to several years.

What are the symptoms of lower back pain?

The person with low back pain may have difficulty performing certain movements such as walking, sitting, bending and standing up. She may also experience a feeling of blockage in her lower back.

Symptoms of lower back pain can be mechanical and inflammatory:

Mechanical: These are the most common symptoms.

  • A muscle injury or a ligament sprain: the pain in the lower back occurs suddenly accompanied by sudden and intense contraction of the muscles. Pain is the result of making a wrong move or lifting a heavy load.
  • Sciatic neuralgia: the pain goes down the posterior part of one or both legs. It is then a pinching of the sciatic nerve.
  • A herniated disc: Pain is accompanied by coughing, sneezing, or straining.
  • Inflammation: pain is felt in the lower back, more intense at night.

What causes lower back pain?

Although it is usually mild, low back pain requires a medical examination (MRI, X-ray, CT scan) to determine the origin. Among its causes:

  • An injury to a muscle, tendon or ligament.
  • A herniated disc.
  • Disc degeneration: As we age the intervertebral discs lose their elasticity. Disc degeneration follows. This is also the case for some athletes.
  • The sliding of one vertebra on another vertebra.
  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
  • A gynecological problem. Back pain is common in many women due to menstruation and pregnancy.
  • In rare cases, an abdominal aortic aneurysm, tumor, related fracture caused by osteoporosis or infection.

Who are the people at risk?

Some people are at greater risk of developing low back pain than others, such as:

  • people with flat or hollow feet;
  • sedentary people;
  • people who work standing;
  • people who carry heavy loads;
  • people aged 50 and over;
  • people who wear high heels or uncomfortable shoes;
  • pregnant women ;
  • obese people.
  • people with poor posture.

How to prevent lower back pain?

Prevention remains in our opinion the best attitude to fight against low back pain:

  • Maintain good posture at all times: back straight, gaze forward and shoulders back.
  • Do not lift heavy objects.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly and warm up before engaging in any physical activity.
  • Avoid overwork and stress.
  • Be well seated with your back straight in front of your workstation.

How to treat low back pain?

The treatment for low back pain depends largely on its cause.

For pain of muscle or nerve origin, the doctor may prescribe analgesics to calm the pain (acetaminophen, aspirin, etc.), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen), opiates (codeine, oxycodone). Applying heat or cold and certain specific exercises can relieve pain. Muscle manipulations performed by a specialist (physiotherapist, osteopath) are sometimes recommended.

If the pain is related to a misalignment of the feet, their deformation (flat or hollow foot), the podiatrist can prescribe the best treatment adapted to your situation:

A biomechanical exam to assess your posture. Two treatments are then possible:

  • plantar orthotics;
  • or cortisone injections to relieve your feet.

Make an appointment 

PodiatreMD is a network in downtown Montreal, on Rue Jean-Talon (corner Lucerne), Laval, West Island, Gatineau and Ottawa. We are here to serve you. Our staff are as warm as they are competent and will know how to meet your needs. So don’t hesitate to call us to make an appointment.