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Lower Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

Most sedentary jobs include a huge flaw; they are all literally a pain in the back.
Low back pain is pain affecting the lower part of the back. It is described as acute if it has lasted less than 6 weeks, it may also be sub-acute if it has lasted 6-12 weeks and chronic if it has lasted more than 12 weeks.

Low back pain is extremely common, costing millions in lost work, as well as millions in medical, state and insurance resources every year. Most back pain does not signify any serious underlying problem, and generally sort itself within a few days to a few weeks. This is one major reason why it gets neglected the most. Most people have the wrong postures that further aggravates the problem.

Symptoms
Low back pain generally refers to pain or ache somewhere between the bottom of the ribs, at the back, and the top of the legs. The pain often begins suddenly, and may follow an obvious strain or injury, but it is largely seen that it occurs "out of the blue", or comes about extremely slowly.

The pain may travel to or be felt elsewhere. It often goes into the buttocks, but may further get intensified down the leg and even into the foot. Pain of this sort may be worse on bending and even worse while sitting, especially in an easy chair. Sometimes turning over in bed or sitting up are extremely agonizing. Coughing or sneezing in these situations can often make the pain much worse, throwing the muscles of the back into a painful spasm.

Back pain may be combined with pain into the leg, traveling down below the knee, otherwise known as sciatica, since the main nerve to the leg (the sciatic nerve) is being irritated by pressure applied on it.

Causes
Low back pain is rather common from person to person. The main cause for low back pain is a strain of the muscles, or other soft structures (for e.g. ligaments and tendons) connected to the backbone. Sometimes it is the cushion between the bones which get strained, and which bulges out and presses on the nearby nerves. Exactly what is injured varies from person to person, but you may also get differing theories depending on whom you ask. Although the experts may not agree on what is causing the problem, there is a surprising amount of agreement on how best to improve the situation.

Some common reasons for Back Pain
There are several reasons why you experience back pain. The first thing is to rule out any other obvious conditions, which cause this. There are a number of "red flags", or warning signs, which are factors, which lead the doctor to arrange for more rapid investigation and treatment than would otherwise be necessary. Pain usually gets manifested in your system due to the following reasons:
* The pain that follows a violent injury, such as a road traffic accident
* Constant pain that only gets worse in time
* Pain is in the upper part of the spine
* You have had cancer in the past or at present, there is a possibility that you might experience pain
* You are on steroids.
* You have lost significant weight.

Prevention
Although the list for causing back pain could be endless, there are some general precautions you could take to stay healthy.
* Try to stay fit.
Regular exercise to keep generally fit is more important than any specific exercises aimed at the back muscles.

*Be aware of the posture and position you are in during your daily activities.
If you have to lift heavy objects, share the load with other people, and try to hold the weight in close to your body, bending at the knees when possible rather than your back.

*If carrying shopping, try to carry similar loads on both sides, and make a number of journeys, rather than trying to carry too much at one go. Consider the use of a shopping trolley.

* School bags are typically far too heavy and often worn on only one shoulder.
Try to leave books that you do not need that day in your locker or at home, and wear a rucksack type of bag correctly positioned on both shoulders.
By Prerna Salla
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