Lower back pain is very common and can happen from different reasons. It can be a muscle sprain due to lifting something, bending or after overuse. It may also be due to injury, problem with a disc (a cushion that sits between vertebrae), arthritis, narrowing of a spinal canal, vertebra that is out of place or infection or tumor. Vertebrae are bones that form a spinal column. They sit one on the top of another and have opening inside that contains and protects spinal cord.
Pain can be present in one spot or travel to thighs or even heels. People affected by back pain may also feel muscle spasms.
Majority of the time, back pain resolves with stretching, pain relieving medications “NSAID’s” that include ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (brand name: Aleve), heat, staying active and massage.
If pain is severe, spreading dawn the leg (indicating pinched nerve), associated with weakness, numbness or problems with urination or bowel movement, there could be a more serious problem that needs urgent attention.
Evaluation of lower back pain includes detailed physical exam and appropriate imaging plus other tests if indicated.
Treatment depends on specific problem causing back pain. It may include muscle relaxants for spasms, corticosteroid medications for inflammation taken orally or injected either into a gluteal muscle or directly to the back using fluoroscopy (X-ray). Physical therapy is usually helpful, and some people benefit from spinal manipulation or acupuncture.
Only few people require surgery to treat back pain.