Acute Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is generally described as any pain or ache found in the area between the bottom of the ribs at the back of the torso and the top of the legs. When this lower back pain has been present for less than six weeks, it is given the qualifier “acute.”

Lower back pain is rather common and there are as many different causes as there are symptoms. While lower back pain can seemingly come from nowhere, it can also appear after an obvious injury or strain.

The pain could become worse when bending over or even when sitting and something as simple as turning over in bed or sitting up can be excruciating. Coughing and sneezing, which cause the body to temporarily tense up, can make the pain worse, and the muscles of the lower back may even spasm.

Causes of Acute Lower Back Pain


Most of these symptoms are related to simple or mechanical back pain, which is the most frequent cause of back pain. Often, this is caused by a strain of the lower back muscles, perhaps by lifting something too heavy or without proper support.


Other areas that could be strained include ligaments and tendons attached to the vertebrae, or an intervertebral disc, which acts as a cushion between the bones of the vertebrae, which has become strained and swollen.


Treatment of Acute Lower Back Pain


Fortunately, most acute lower back pain of this sort will fade on its own with time. An important part of treating lower back pain is to avoid straining the areas that are affected but without spending too much time resting, as this won’t help the back heal.


Simple analgesics (pain killers) such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol should help reduce the pain, and if you absolutely must take to your bed, limit it to only a day or two before returning to work.


Red Flags


However, there are a few red flags that would prompt a doctor to do a thorough investigation as they can be indicators that the pain is the result of something other than simple or mechanical pain.


Some of those red flags include if you are under the age of twenty or over the age of fifty-five, the pain appears after a violent injury, the pain is constant and is getting worse, you have had cancer or have cancer now, you are taking steroids, you have lost a great deal of weight, you abuse drugs or are HIV positive, or you find it extremely difficult to bend forwards. Anyone with acute lower back pain with one of these symptoms should make plans to see a doctor immediately.


Diagnosis of Acute Lower Back Pain


In most cases where the pain has been present for several weeks, a doctor will arrange for you to have a CT scan or an MRI, which can show not only the bones but the soft spinal structures as well. He may also arrange for blood tests in order to rule out rarer causes of back pain.


Acute lower back pain can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your active lifestyle. If you’re concerned that acute lower back pain is holding you back, make an appointment with your health care physician today.