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Dr. Claudia Ng - The Growing Problem of Lower Back Pain Monday, November 04, 2013

The Growing Problem of Lower Back Pain

The prevalence of Lower back pain has reached epidemic level. Research shows that its incidence is second only to the common cold. Four out of five of the general population will develop lower back pain at least once in a lifetime, while at any given time, 10% of the population is suffering from lower back pain.

Ninety percent of all lower back pain are of mechanical origin, the most common being sprains and strains. Sitting too much, poor posture, lack of exercise and obesity are amongst the most common causes of lower back injuries. Acute injuries refer to pain of a sudden onset, such as when lifting a heavy object the wrong way or before the body is properly prepared for it. On the other hand, chronic injuries usually have an insidious onset or tend to recur due to previous trauma. It may also be caused by repetitive strains. More often than not, the individual cannot even recall when or how the pain had started.

The area involved in lower back pain can span from the lumbar region to the buttocks or even the back of thighs. Acute lower back pain is typically more severe in intensity, affecting even simple movements like bending over or walking, while chronic back pain may seem more "bearable" but tends to go on and off for months or years without completely resolving itself.

For mild strains, a few days of rest may be all it takes to recover. However, if pain persists, worsens or recurs frequently over a month, then proper treatments are warranted. Most cases of lower back pain can be treated conservatively by spinal manipulative therapy which helps to restore the normal joint functions. Certain physiologic treatment modalities may also be employed, such as interferential current therapy, ultrasound therapy, shock wave therapy or acupuncture. They help the injured tissues to heal faster. Furthermore, specific and targeted exercise is an essential component in the treatment regimen to prevent any future injuries.

How to prevent lower back pain?
1. Avoid prolonged sitting - get up every 30 minutes to maintain circulation and to keep muscles and joints mobile. Simple stretches can also be done in the seat even if getting up frequently is not possible.

2. Sit with a good posture - that means sitting with your lower back against a good back support, not hunching or sliding the body forward, or sitting only on the front part of the chair. Use a workstation setup with an ergonomic design so each component is fully adjustable to suit different body statures.

3. Do regular exercises - the benefits are endless, from maintaining circulation to stress relief, but to benefit most from exercising, do a variety of them, as each exercise form may overstrain certain muscles while others are "underworked". Plus, giving your body new challenges keeps it smart! And that means less chances of getting injured!

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