UNDERSTANDING LUMBAGO – CAUSES, SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENTS
The term lumbago in Latin means ‘weakness in the loins’, or in other words, ‘weakness in the lower back’ which is a more accurate description.
Physicians use the term Lumbago to denote “pain stemming from the low back.” In the layman’s lingo we refer all lower back pain as “lumbago”. Hence both the terms are interchangeable.
Lumbago can be classified as:
- Axial back pain, or pain that does not radiate down the legs and is restricted only to the spine.
- Radicular pain, which is commonly known as “sciatica” or “pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often owing to degeneration of an intervertebral disc.”
Causes Of Lumbago
The real reasons for lumbago can be complex and are not always apparent. There are two main factors which help guide the physician to determine the underlying cause of lower back pain:
- Description of how the pain feels, what makes it better or worse, when it occurs, and
- Where the pain is felt, if it is only in the low back, or if there is any accompanying leg pain that’s worse than the lower back pain, or does the pain radiate elsewhere in the body.
The typical causes of Lumbago are as below:
- The lumbar region, or lower back, has the responsibility of bearing a considerable amount of the body’s weight, and allow free movement at our waist. At times this might be too much for the structures, such as the muscles, ligaments and tendons, supporting us.
- Most often, lumbago arises as a result of a mechanical problem in the joints and muscles of our lower back. This could be due to some form of disruption to the way joints in the area work, leading to inflammation and pain.
- Lumbago can also occur as a result of ‘wear and tear’ of the joints of the lower back or some other form of degeneration of joint surfaces as a result of ‘overwork or overuse’. This is sometimes referred to as spondylosis and is more likely to occur in older people.
Symptoms Of Lumbago
- Pain in the lower back or lumbar region of the spine. This is usually associated with aching muscles, tension and stiffness in the lower back.
- Pain radiating down one or both legs. This happens in the condition ‘sciatica’
In severe cases it is symptomized by
- Inflammation or swelling of the leg or back
- A feeling of being depressed
- Incontinence of bladder or bowel
- Blood in urine
Treatment For Lumbago
The conservative methods are the most preferred mode of treatment. These include,
- Use of everyday pain-killers such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Applying pain relief gels and ointments.
- Physiotherapy and exercise.
- Yoga is extremely effective in preventing lumbago.
- Ayurvedic massages like Podikkizhi (Herbal powder massage), Ilakkaizhi (Herbal leaves massage), kativasthi (Pooling medicated oil in the back), Pizhichil (Pouring medicated oils as a stream), Nhavarakkizhi (Massage with rice boiled in medicated milk) and Panchakarma therapies that use medicated enema like Kashaya Vasthi (enema with medicated decoctions) and Ksheeravasthi (Enema with medicated milk) are extremely effective in relieving pain and strengthening the back muscles. They provide long term relief with no side effects and thus are gaining a huge fan following in the recent times.
One can also help avoid Lumbago by taking the below precautions.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain optimum body weight.
- Avoid eating large quantities of acid-forming foods as a part of your diet.
- Avoid stress.
- Improve posture and maintain proper body mechanics.