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

t can occur at any age, but it is a particular 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 is a result of 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 more than 3 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 one 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 4 regions:

  • 7 cervical vertebrae (neck): C1 to C7.
  • 12 thoracic vertebrae (upper back): T1 to T12.
  • 5 lumbar vertebrae (lower back): L1 to L5.
  • Sacral and coccyx: 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.

There are diseases that can cause back pain that include spinal stenosis, spondylitisand fibromyalgia .


The main 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, but occasionally it can also be caused by injuries to the discs or the appearance of a hernia in the disks of the spine.

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 there are some activities that 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.
  • Firemen and police.
  • Goalkeepers
  • Mechanics

Also office staff such as 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 that include pain during urination or coughing, loss of bowel and bladder control, weakness in the lower extremities, and fever.

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


Low back pain to be properly diagnosed 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 therapies momentarily relieve 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 in the most appropriate postures for the patient, both in daily life and to carry out their work.

The therapies

As spinal manipulation and massage treatments that can release muscle tension.

The acupuncture sessions

Acupuncture releases substances such as endorphins, serotonin and acetylcholine 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, 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 long 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 with your legs and not your lower back, and 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, as well as 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 at an appropriate height and according to the individual’s height and use a chair with good lumbar support.
  • Change frequently the positions of seated or stopped and to walk periodically to stretch the muscles smoothly alleviating the tension. When the individual remains seated for a long period of time, they should rest their feet on a low stool.
  • Wear shoes with low heels, with good cushioning and comfortable.
  • Sleeping on your side to reduce any curve in the spine and sleep on a firm surface.
  • You should not lift very heavy objects. Lift the weight with the knees, pulling the stomach muscles and keeping the head low and in line with the back straight. The object 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 the accumulation of fat around the waist. A diet with a high daily content of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D help promote bone growth.
  • No smoking, this reduces blood flow to the lower part of the spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.