Lumbago – hellish pain in the back

Lumbago - hellish pain in the back

A clumsy movement and suddenly nothing works. The lumbago comes completely unexpectedly. With the right measures, however, the symptoms are soon eliminated. The good news first: Although lumbago is extremely unpleasant, it is not dangerous. The condition usually improves within a short period of time. The healing process can also be well supported with simple measures.

Definition: What is lumbago?

But what is actually behind the pain? The vernacular says “lumbago” or “torn cross”, the doctor writes  “lumbago”  or “acute lumbago” in the patient’s file. What is meant is the same: a sudden pain in the back that triggers a blockage and makes an upright posture seem impossible.

Acute lumbago paralyzes those affected from one moment to the next, but normally there are no long-term consequences and it is over after a few days.

Lumbago: typical symptoms

Lumbago manifests itself in the form of suddenly occurring, boring or stabbing pain in the lower back, which causes a kind of blocked feeling, so that the affected person cannot sit up and can hardly move. As a result, one usually adopts a stooped, relieving posture, which in turn can lead to new pain or tension.

The pain usually occurs on one side in the lower back, between the buttocks and the loin. They can occur with or without pain radiating into one leg – the latter is known professionally as “lumboischialgia” because the sciatic nerve is often involved. A tingling sensation may also occur.

Causes of lumbago

pinched nerve is usually  suspected to be the cause because of the severe pain. In fact, various reasons can be responsible for this:

  • the blockage of a vertebral or sacroiliac joint
  • herniated disc  in the lumbar region
  • pronounced muscle tension or
  • Wear of vertebral joints

As an immediate reaction to the pain, the back muscles tense up so much that those affected can no longer assume a normal posture and have the feeling of a “lock” in their lower back.

There isn’t always a trigger

Because the lumbar region is richly equipped with pain-conducting nerve fibers, even minor triggers can cause severe pain attacks.

The trigger is often an unfavorable turning movement, incorrect bending or lifting too heavy. Damp cold or psychological factors can also promote lumbago. However, lumbago can also only occur days after such a trigger.

In some cases, no specific trigger can be found and lumbago is often preceded by factors such as lack of exercise, shortened muscles or overstrained ligaments.

With the exception of children, almost all age groups can be affected by lumbago. Doctors, however, have different opinions as to who it affects most often.

What to do with lumbago? 8 tips for self-help

A visit to the doctor is often not necessary for lumbago. If the symptoms do not last longer than two to three days and the pain does not radiate into the leg and cause numbness or tingling there, those affected can first help themselves:

  1. First lie down in a stepped position (lying on your back with your knees bent at a right angle) or in a side position with your legs drawn up. You can take this position several times a day.
  2. Whether local heat or cold is perceived as pleasant varies from person to person – if you have lumbago for the first time, you should simply try it out.
  3. If heat is good and the skin tolerates it, a heating pad or heat patch from the pharmacy will help. Fango  for heating in the microwave can also  be applied to the painful area.
  4. If you prefer cold for acute muscle tension, you can use a cold pack with so-called cryogel from the pharmacy or a cooling gel.
  5. Over-  the-counter pain relievers  break the cycle of pain, posture, muscle tension, and even more pain from the tension.
  6. Nature also has pain-relieving active ingredients: devil’s claw, willow bark extract, cayenne pepper tincture or ointment.
  7. When mobility is sufficient again, you should treat yourself to a hot bath or a long  shower  .
  8. Rest is no longer recommended today, i.e. not planning bed rest for several days. Instead, gentle exercise (walking, gentle exercise) is advisable.

Light painkillers such as  ibuprofen  can help relieve the pain in small doses in the short term.

When to the doctor?

If the pain increases or  lasts longer than three days  , the limit of self-treatment has been reached and a doctor’s visit is necessary. Otherwise a vicious circle of pain and tension develops, which is “noted” in the body’s pain memory and encourages the back pain to become chronic.

If the pain  lasts longer than two weeks  , X-ray examinations or computer tomography must also be used to clarify whether a herniated disc is behind the lumbago. Because it requires more intensive treatment. 

If  you have numbness  or tingling in your leg, if you have a chronic disease such as  diabetes  or  osteoporosis  , if you have a high  fever  and  chills  , or if you are taking certain medications (such as  cortisone ), the back pain should be checked out  by a doctor immediately  .

The doctor will first try to determine the cause of the lumbago.

Treatment of lumbago

The treatment is all the more successful the more precisely the cause is known. Examples of targeted medical treatment include chirotherapy, i.e. setting blocked vertebrae or the sacroiliac joint, or in the case of  joint wear and tear,  the administration of a locally acting painkiller by injection.

The prescription of physical therapy and physiotherapy is particularly useful if the main problem is a muscle problem. Manual therapeutic measures on the lumbar spine are also carried out by qualified physiotherapists or physiotherapists. Physiotherapy itself is usually not possible with acute lumbago, but helps afterwards to strengthen the back muscles and thus prevent a relapse.

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