Lumbago is an outdated term for lower back pain without an indication of the cause or type.

The term “lumbago” can be dated back to the early 1600’s. Latin for lumbus, meaning “hip, loin,” was used in reference to the weakness of the lower back/hip area.

In the modern era, sedentary lifestyles are the main cause of pain in the lumbar spine (lower back). Back in the day, when lumbago was a more popular term (even into the 60’s and 70’s), lower back pains were more likely due to degeneration.

Fortunately, lower back pain can often be treated with chiropractic care. Chiropractic patients consistently report higher satisfaction rates than those who go to physical therapy or a primary care physician.

Click here to set up your appointment at Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic or give us a call today at 303-955-8270. Our patients and their success stories speak for themselves. (We reserve Fridays for out-of-town patients.)

Causes of Lumbago

On any given day, it is estimated 12% of people experience lumbago/low back pain. (This number isn’t surprising — I meet many of them on a daily basis.)

What is lumbago called now? These days, if your lower back pain is caused by back muscle strain, doctors would call that low back pain due to muscle strain instead of using the term lumbago.

Is lumbago a real disease? No, lumbago is not a real disease. It’s a general term for the symptom of low back pain. Doctors tend to use more specific terms nowadays, such as sciatica or spinal stenosis.

What is the cause of lumbago? Medical conditions that may cause lumbago (lower back pain) include:

  • Muscle strain
  • Ligament injury
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis (leading cause of compression fractures)
  • Sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve)
  • Spinal stenosis (compression of the spinal nerves)
  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Scoliosis (or the related conditions lordosis and kyphosis)
  • Tumors near the spine
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Spondylitis
  • Spondylosis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Broken bone near the spinal region
  • Sprain

Likely, a healthcare professional will have to diagnose the underlying cause of your chronic low back pain before he or she recommends treatment options specific to your case.

Healthcare providers may x-ray your spinal cord and/or administer a physical exam before diagnosing the underlying cause. 

For instance, I get full 3-D views of my patients’ spine with an array of digital x-rays to ensure I can see what’s happening (and recommend they see a specialist, if it’s outside of my expertise to treat).

Symptoms of Lumbago

Lumbago/lower back pain isn’t a single disease — instead, it is a symptom of many different medical conditions affecting the lower back.

What is a symptom of lumbago? Symptoms of lumbago include:

  • Chronic pain in the lumbar region (lower back)
  • Soreness in the back
  • Pain or tingling sensation down one or both legs
  • Muscle spasm
  • Weakness in one or both legs
  • Stiffness/muscle tension in the lower back

Depending on the cause of lumbago, other symptoms may also occur. For example, if lumbago is caused by a herniated disc, the pain will increase while sitting but decrease when lying down. Lumbago that is due to scoliosis could also cause an abnormal curvature of the spine.

Risk Factors

The most common risk factors for low back pain include:

  • Poor posture
  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Heavy lifting, especially when it’s part of your occupation
  • Smoking
  • Kidney or bladder problems
  • Pregnancy


Seek immediate medical attention if your low back pain is accompanied by a fever, unexplained weight loss, or new issues with your bladder or bowels. If low back pain appears after a fall or traumatic injury, see a doctor as quickly as possible to assess the damage and prevent further injury.

Possible treatment options for lumbago/low back pain include:

Chiropractic Care

Research indicates that expert spinal manipulation is better and more cost-effective than taking medicine and/or visiting a primary care physician for back pain. Chiropractors leave their patients feeling less pain, less disabled, less dependent on drugs, and more satisfied.

Physical Therapy

Also called physiotherapy, physical therapy can teach you stretches and exercises that improve your posture and strengthen your back/core. Physical therapists should be able to improve your range of motion and strengthen your musculoskeletal system so future injuries are less likely. 

Pain Medications

Many doctors prescribe pain-relieving pharmaceuticals to “treat” lumbago. Acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen treat symptoms, not the root cause. These pain medications are not recommended as long-term treatment.


There are various injections doctors may administer to treat back pain, depending on the underlying cause. These injections include:

  • Nerve block injections: Provide temporary pain relief for low back pain by blocking pain receptors. 
  • Facet joint injections: Treat neck pain and back pain by introducing anesthetic and steroids to the affected facet joint. 
  • Epidural steroid injections: Reduce inflammation around the spinal nerves. 
  • Botulinum toxin A (botox): Shown to improve chronic back pain in half of patients.

These treatments come with a host of side effects. I only recommend these to patients in rare situations when less invasive measures haven’t proven effective.


This strategic insertion of filiform needles has been shown to work better than a placebo at treating low back pain.

Massage Therapy

A massage may help ease tense or overworked muscles, which is a common cause of low back pain.


Surgical treatment is a last resort for most lumbago patients. A neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon may perform a spinal fusion, spinal laminectomy, discectomy, or nucleoplasty — to name a few common procedures.

What is the prognosis for lumbago? The prognosis for lumbago depends on the underlying cause of the lower back pain. If lumbago is caused by inflammation, a steroid injection may cure it. However, other lumbago-causing medical conditions cannot be permanently cured, like osteoporosis.


To prevent low back pain with proper spine care:

  1. Regularly practice low-impact aerobic exercises. They make your back feel better in the short term, and they help you maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
  2. Build muscle strength, particularly in your lumbar region.
  3. Quit smoking, which increases your risk of low back pain.
  4. Practice good posture to relieve compressed nerve roots. Treat it like exercise. Sit perfectly for a few minutes one day, then increase the time you consciously sit with perfect posture until it’s second nature.
  5. Avoid heavy lifting. If you must lift heavy objects, then lift with your legs. Keep your back straight and only bend at your knees.
  6. If you have a sedentary job, try to get up and stretch every hour as lower back pain is often brought on by hours of sitting. 
  7. Try yoga. Yoga is a great physical activity for strengthening your back and abdomen muscles and promoting good posture.

Long Term Outlook

Most people experience low back pain (lumbago) at some point in their life. Just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Seek treatment and stop relying on pain medications and the adverse side effects — get treated for the root cause of your back pain.

At Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic, we’ve administered countless chiropractic adjustments and seen amazing success stories. Gentle spinal adjustments are critical in treating back pain. Click here to learn more about my unique orthospinology-first approach to spine health.

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