Lumbago (Low Back Pain): Causes, Treatments, and Prevention
Lumbago is a general term for low back pain. In fact, the two terms were once used interchangeably. However, “lumbago” is an outdated term, and nowadays, doctors try to only use more specific terms when talking about back pain.
On any given day, it is estimated 12% of people experience lumbago/low back pain.
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In this article, you’ll learn about the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for lumbago, as well as how to prevent low back pain.
What is lumbago?
Lumbago is a common condition that basically means lower back pain. Lumbago/low back pain isn’t a single disease — instead, it is a symptom of many different medical conditions.
However, “lumbago” was deemed too general a term by the medical community. These days, healthcare professionals use more specific terminology to describe low back pain.
The causes of lumbago are what doctors tend to refer to, instead of the term “lumbago”. For example, if your lumbago is caused by back muscle strain, doctors would call that low back pain due to muscle strain, instead of using the term lumbago.
4 in 5 people living in developed countries will experience a type of lumbago at some time in their lives.
Is lumbago a real disease? No, lumbago is not a disease. It’s a general term for the symptom of low back pain. Also, “lumbago” is an outdated term for low back pain, so doctors tend to use more specific terms nowadays, such as sciatica or spinal stenosis.
Causes of Low Back Pain
What is the cause of lumbago? Below are 15 medical conditions that may cause lumbago and low back pain:
Spinal stenosis (compression of the spinal nerves)
Degenerative disc disease
Scoliosis (or the related conditions lordosis and kyphosis)
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.
Qualified professionals may x-ray your spinal cord or administer a physical examination before diagnosing the underlying cause.
Here are the most common risk factors for low back pain:
Lack of exercise
Heavy lifting, especially when it’s part of your occupation
Kidney or bladder problems
What are the signs of lumbago? Below are the warning signs and symptoms of lumbago:
Chronic pain in the lumbar region (AKA low back pain)
Soreness in the back
Pain or tingling sensation down the leg(s)
Weakness in the leg(s)
Stiffness 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 due to scoliosis could also cause an abnormal curvature of the spine.
When to See a Doctor
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.
Possible treatment options for lumbago/low back pain include:
Chiropractic care — Research indicates that chiropractic care 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. Also, obesity and excess weight are risk factors for low back pain. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight.
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 for pain management only and not recommended as long-term treatment.
Injections — There are various injections doctors may administer to treat back pain, depending on the underlying cause. 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) injections have been shown to improve chronic back pain in half of patients.
Acupuncture — 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.
Surgery — Surgical options are 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.
Can lumbago be cured? Yes, depending on the underlying cause, lumbago/low back pain can be cured. If lumbago is caused by inflammation, a steroid injection may cure it. However, other lumbago-causing medical conditions cannot be permanently cured, like osteoporosis.
6 tips on preventing low back pain:
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.
Build muscle strength, particularly in your lumbar region.
Practice good posture. 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.
Avoid heavy lifting. If you must lift, then lift with your legs. Keep your back straight and only bend at your knees.
Try yoga. It strengthens your back and abdomen muscles and promotes good posture.
Lumbago/low back pain is often brought on by long hours of sitting.
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 have administered countless chiropractic adjustments and seen amazing success stories. Gentle spinal adjustments are critical in treating back pain. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ty Carzoli and his unique approach to spine health.
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Hoy, D., Bain, C., Williams, G., March, L., Brooks, P., Blyth, F., … & Buchbinder, R. (2012). A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 64(6), 2028-2037. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22231424/
Khodakarami, N. (2020, March). Treatment of Patients with Low Back Pain: A Comparison of Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Manipulation. In Healthcare (Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 44). Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364128/
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