Simple Lower Back Pain
In most cases, problems are described as simple lower back pain – that is, pain caused by a simple mechanical cause such as a strain or injury. That is not to say that the pain itself is simple; it can often be very severe. This kind of back pain accounts for as many as 19 out of 20 cases.
Simple lower back pain is most often caused, or exacerbated, by lifestyle factors, including:
- Poor posture and slouching
- Bad driving position
- Incorrect lifting technique
- Poor support from furniture such as chairs and beds
- Taking part in a new or excessive level of physical exertion
In addition, being generally unfit and/or overweight puts a huge amount of stress on the back, as the muscles will not be as strong as they should be and are being asked to carry more weight than they’re designed for.
Because the cause of back pain can build up over a period of time, it is often difficult for your doctor to pinpoint the exact reason for your back pain. Damage to muscles and tendons is unlikely to show up on x-rays or other tests, so you may find that your GP diagnosis is rather vague. This is not necessarily a cause for alarm as the treatment for most minor back injuries is the same.
However, if you find yourself with a back injury that you cannot put down to a specific incident or injury, you should look at the factors in the list above to try and identify for yourself where the problem may lie. If you don’t address the root cause, the chances that are the problem will occur again at some point in the future.
Contrary to the long held belief, you should not treat simple back pain with bed rest. Recent research has shown that it’s far more effective to stay as active as possible, using simple painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, to control the pain. Since diagnosis is difficult, and largely irrelevant in the case of simple back pain, there can be little to gain from visiting your GP in the first instance. In many cases the pain will subside in three to four weeks, and the vast majority of people will be pain free after six. If your symptoms persist beyond this time, or increase in severity, either suddenly or gradually, this is the time to visit your GP.