Low Back Pain: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments and Prevention

T can occur at any age, but it is a problem in younger people whose work involves physical effort and, much later in life, in the elderly.

The lower back is located in, the lower part of the back.

Low back pain can be defined as mild or severe pain or discomfort in the area of ​​the lower back.

This usually resolves itself and, in most cases, is the result of an effort injury. This pain in the lower back is commonly referred to as lumbago.


The pain can be acute (sudden and severe) or chronic if it has lasted more than three months:

Acute low back pain

Acute low back pain usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks.

Most acute back pain results from trauma to the area or a disorder such as arthritis. Occasionally, back pain may “radiate” to another part, such as the legs, buttocks, or feet.


Chronic low back pain

Chronic back pain is measured by duration and is defined as pain that persists for three months.

It is often progressive, and the specific cause may be difficult to determine.

Spinal column

The spine resists the weight of the upper body and protects the spinal cord. The column is formed by more than thirty bones stacked on top of the other (the vertebrae).

Each of these bones contains a hole that creates a channel that surrounds the spinal cord.

It has nerve roots that leave and enter the spinal cord through the spaces between the vertebrae.

These spaces allow flexibility and act as shock absorbers.

The spine has four regions:

  • Seven cervical vertebrae (neck): C1 to C7.
  • Twelve thoracic vertebrae (upper back): T1 to T12.
  • Five lumbar vertebrae (lower back): L1 to L5.
  • Sacral and coccyx: a group of bones fused at the base of the spine.

The vertebrae, or bone-building blocks of the spine, are cushioned by gel-shaped discs between the vertebrae.

These discs are vulnerable to injury and can degenerate with age.

Some diseases can cause back pain, including spinal stenosis, spondylitis, and fibromyalgia.


The leading cause of lumbago or low back pain is the tension of the muscles. Turning or lifting a heavy load incorrectly can strain the muscles and ligaments of the back, causing sharp pain.

This can also occur after performing exercises, after excessive and repetitive use of the lower back. Still, occasionally it can also be caused by injuries to the discs or the appearance of a hernia in the spine’s disks.

High-impact sports such as soccer, running, volleyball or golf, sports that involve repetitive pelvic twisting, can also cause lower back pain. Other factors that can cause lower back pain are:

  • The falls.
  • Prolonged sessions of sitting or incorrect positions.
  • Activities that subject the body to continuous vibrations.
  • The habit of smoking.
  • The overweight.
  • The extreme height of the individual.

In the workplace, some activities require great physical effort and that, in the long term, can cause pain in the lower back, such as:

  • Workers who carry luggage or are responsible for storing goods in warehouses.
  • The surgeons and the nurses.
  • Bus drivers and taxis.
  • The workers.
  • Employees for cleaning, installers, and carpet cleaners.
  • Workers of the agricultural sector.
  • Firefighters and police.
  • Goalkeepers
  • Mechanics

Also, office staff includes call center workers, file clerks, and computer operators.


The symptoms of low back pain range from sharp and throbbing to dull pains.

Lumbar pain can occur constantly or intermittently and sometimes positional.

Acute low back pain can arise suddenly after the occurrence of an injury.

There are warning signs of a more complicated injury:

  • Pain during urination or coughing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Weakness in the lower extremities
  • Fever

These additional symptoms and prolonged low back pain for more than 72 hours require a medical evaluation urgently.


Low back pain to be diagnosed appropriately requires a description by the patient.

The doctor will perform the physical examination and can usually order tests for the differential diagnosis of back pain, such as:

  • Bone scan.
  • Computed tomography.
  • Myelogram
  • Discography.
  • Magnetic resonance.
  • Electrodiagnostics
  • Bone scans.
  • Ultrasound images.
  • Blood test.


Cold or hot therapies

This type of therapy momentarily relieves lumbar pain.

The rest

Studies suggest that strict bed rest can often prolong or worsen low back pain; it can also induce secondary complications, such as depression, decreased muscle tone, and blood clots in the legs.

Patients with low back pain should be kept in constant activity to obtain greater flexibility and faster recovery.

The Yoga

Studies suggest that conventional stretches work very well, and with yoga, you can get the same benefits.

The instructor must have experience in the therapies for back pain and the most appropriate postures for the patient, both in daily life and in carrying out their work.

The therapies

As spinal manipulation and massage treatments can release muscle tension.

The acupuncture sessions

Acupuncture releases endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine substances that relieve pain.

The drugs

Analgesics such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and opioids such as codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine are used—anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, and ketoprofen and naproxen sodium and COX-2 inhibitors.

Also, topical creams or sprays and epidural steroid injections.


Surgery is the last resort applied, spine surgeries usually have a lengthy recovery period, and in some cases, mobility and flexibility can be lost after these.


The rehabilitation helps in the recovery and reduces the risk of a new injury in the lumbar area.


The steps to decrease your risk of back pain as you get older include:

  • Regular exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Lifting your legs and not your lower back.
  • Optimizing your workplace.

After staying for a long time in a period of inactivity, it is recommended to start exercising gradually and with low impact.

Walk, swim or ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes a day. These activities can increase muscle strength and flexibility and protect the lower back from injury or stress.

Frequent stretching helps relax muscle tension throughout the body, strengthens core muscles, and improves overall posture for a healthier back.

For the prevention of low back pain, the following should be taken into account:

  • Stretch before exercise or any other strenuous activity.
  • Adopt a posture to avoid stooping when standing or sitting.
  • Make sure that the work plane is appropriate according to the individual’s size, and use a chair with good lumbar support.
  • Change frequently the positions of seated or stopped and walk periodically to stretch the muscles smoothly, alleviating the tension. When individuals remain sitting for an extended period, they should rest their feet on a low stool.
  • Wear shoes with low heels, with good cushioning and comfortable.
  • Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in the spine and sleep on a firm surface.
  • It would help if you did not lift weighty objects. Lift the weight with the knees, pulling the stomach muscles and keeping the head low and in line with the back straight. The thing should be kept as close as possible to the body, and the body should not be twisted when getting up.
  • Maintain a proper diet to avoid excess weight, especially avoid accumulating fat around the waist. A diet with high daily calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D help promote bone growth.
  • No smoking reduces blood flow to the lower part of the spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.