Impact of Back Pain in Charles’ life- Why You Need to and How to Seek Help.
It’s 7 am, and the alarm goes off.
Charles, now aroused from sleep sits up to turn off the alarm, and then he falls back on his bed, wincing in obvious pain.
He knew that somehow, he needed to get up, clean up and prepare for where he worked as a sorting officer in a factory, located quite some miles away, of which he needed to take the bus and the train to and from work every day. He is to resume at 8:45 am.
He eventually did get up and as he grudgingly trotted off to the bathroom, he realized he hadn’t been looking forward to each workday anymore as he used to.
As he bent down to pick up the cap of his toothpaste tube that had dropped while milking toothpaste on his toothbrush, he let out a low scream in pain, and then it dawned on him the reason why he hadn’t looked forward to work today.
This annoying pain he had felt on his lower back now for some few weeks. He had rubbed some mentol on it some days ago but it didn’t seem to work.
He knew he needed to see a doctor ASAP.
Low back pain indeed is a common reason why people visit the hospital, and it is also documented to be the commonest cause of job-related disability.
Almost everyone experiences low back pain at some point in their lives but it is commonest between the ages of 30-50, which of course, is the active working-age of humans.
If it occurs for just a few days or weeks and resolves, then that’s a minor or acute low back pain, but if it progresses without resolution for more than 3 months, hey, it’s high time then that you saw a doctor.
You might be feeling your lower back as you are reading this, and the question “what exactly causes lower back pain, or LBP”, crosses your mind.
The first thing is that LBP occurs due to increasing age. As we grow older, there’s a reduction in the fluid content between the bones of the lower back (vertebrae) and in the spine. Hence, the spine bones are then predisposed to rubbing on each other, causing irritation at that point, with loss of muscle tone.
As touted above, the commonest offending factor is work; that is, lifting heavy objects, or standing for long periods, etc.
These can then cause strains, disc injury, compression of the nerves of the spine, etc, which are characterized by numbness, cramping, and weakness. Remember our friend in the story above who was weak and didn’t want to prepare for work?
For some other people, the LBP may not be exactly work-related. Some have abnormal spine curvatures like scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis, of which they are born with such conditions and as such it out the pressure on their bones, muscles, tendons, and nerves all resulting in back pain.
For older adults, the culprit is usually hinged on inflammation of the joints as in Arthritis.
Pregnancy, kidney diseases, and cancer are also recorded causes of low back pain.
Low back pain doesn’t permit pleasant experiences. Office hours are missed, time-outs with family and friends could be suspended, which could cause one to lay on the bed for longer periods. Hence, it is necessary to get help in the hospital as soon and as fast as possible, especially when the earliest signs show.
In the hospital, the attending doctor would ask questions relating to the pain as per the duration, the area of the back affected, other associated signs and symptoms, and what the person has tried to do before coming to the hospital. Low back pain itself could be a symptom of another underlying condition.
Afterward, the doctor would request both laboratory and radiologic tests (X-ray, CT scan, or if necessary, an MRI) to confirm a diagnosis of low back pain.
Based on these findings, the doctor would do commence a treatment plan.
If the low back pain is primary, that is, in the absence of existing pathology, then analgesics usually in the form of NSAIDs are the drug of choice, as long with some advice on lifestyle modifications(walking style, bending style, sleeping style, type of bed to use, etc).
If secondary to an existing condition, then that would also require the specific treatment for that pathology, which could involve surgery, may then could resolve the back pain too, or the analgesics could also be given alongside.
Low back pain is not a respecter of gender, or wealth, or societal status or anything. It is quite common.
However, it can be managed successfully if identified and attended to early.
It’s best to visit a doctor or a physiotherapist as quickly as possible, and not try out non-conventional methods or unproven medications. It could actually worsen the condition or cause some other conditions that could have been otherwise avoided.