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Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain - What it is

Low back pain is very common. Fortunately, it is rarely life threatening. Most backaches are due to weakened and inflexible muscles and ligaments in the back, hips, thighs and abdomen.

Our lower back supports most of our body weight, which therefore makes it more susceptible to injuries and other problems.  

Low Back Pain - Symptoms

Low Back Pain - How to prevent?

Low back pain can be prevented through lifestyle modifications:

  • Maintain good body postures at all times
  • Maintain healthy weight range
  • Use proper body mechanics/ lifting techniques. Avoid bending at waist level
  • Modify workplace/space (workplace ergonomics) to reduce back strain
  • Exercise regularly. Proper exercise can help to strengthen and increase flexibility of back muscles and help to increase bone density. Swimming, brisk walking and cycling are good examples of exercises for back pain sufferers
  • Lead an active life and maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid staying in the same position for a prolonged period of time
  • Sleep on a firm mattress. It helps to protect the spinal curvature. Try to sleep on the sides, with knees bent and a pillow between them. If you prefer to lie on your back, place a pillow under your knees

Low Back Pain - Causes and Risk Factors

Common causes of low back pain

  • Mechanical injury which may result from poor postures, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and incorrect body mechanics
  • Herniated disc (slipped disc) may cause irritation to the nerves and cause sciatica, a condition where pain travels down the buttocks or legs
  • Degenerative disease affecting the spine
  • Rare conditions may include spinal tumour, infection and fracture

Low Back Pain - Diagnosis

Investigations for low back pain

  1. Clinical examination by the doctor
  2. Blood test
  3. Radiological investigations e.g. X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Low Back Pain - Treatments

  1. Rest
    You may need to restrict your activities or have bed rest in the first 1-2 days and resume your activity level gradually.
  2. Medications
    The doctor may prescribe some analgesics and muscle relaxant to help relieve the pain
  3. Physical Therapy
    • Perform the flexibility and strengthening exercise at least twice a day, focusing on the muscles at the back, stomach and hip
    • Hot or cold therapy is used to relax the muscles. It is a short term pain relief method
  4. Surgical Management                                                                                                                                Surgery is seldom required unless you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
    • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
    • Lower limb numbness/weakness
    • Persistent pain despite therapy

Low Back Pain - Preparing for surgery

Low Back Pain - Post-surgery care

Low Back Pain - Other Information