Lower Back Pain - Lumbar Spine
The lumbar spine, or colloquially the lower back, has a physiological curvature called lumbar lordosis, thanks to which it is adapted to vertical posture and gait. It is made of 5 massive vertebrae, and the movements they allow is bending and straightening. It connects to the sacrum and creates a lumbosacral angle. The vertebrae are connected with each other as in other parts of the spine – intervertebral discs (so-called discs) and vertebral joints, which counteract the force of loads and reduce pressure. The ligaments and deep muscles of the spine prevent vertebral displacement. Pain in the lower lumbar region can be associated with overloading the discs, muscles and ligaments. Overload occurs due to continuous sitting, immobility, overtraining, incorrect lifting of heavy objects or neuromuscular disorders. Additional contributing factors include lifestyle, stress levels, diet, and many more.
The most common lumbar spine ailments are:
- Damage to the intervertebral disc – e.g., protrusions or intervertebral hernias in the lumbar spine, which lead to pain, reduced mobility of the spine and reduced ability to move normally
- Sciatica – irritation of the sciatic nerve leading to electrical pain in the buttock, radiating to one or both lower limbs, sensory disturbances and weakening of the muscles innervated by the nerve roots concerned
- Degenerations – even people as young as 30 years of age are affected. The changes affect the intervertebral discs, vertebral joints and ligaments. The changes lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. They provoke back pain or other neurological symptoms in the lower extremities
- Fractures – as a result of injuries or osteoporosis
- Cauda Equina Syndrome, a severe pathology that impairs the function of urinating or defecating; in this situation, the patient should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Physiotherapeutic methods used to fight back pain include McKenzie, Manual Therapy (e.g., dry needling, trigger points, joint manipulations called “setting”, myofascial release, neuro-mobilisation), Kinesio-taping, currents or general rehabilitation exercises. The patient who is aware of their problem improves more effectively, so the therapist explains precisely the cause of the pain. The patient can also improve his health through regular physical activity and compliance with the recommendations given by the physiotherapist.