When you first hear the word “lumbago”, it probably sounds more like a dance from your grandparents’ generation than a medical condition. However, lumbago is actually a musculoskeletal disorder that is more commonly referred to as low back pain. An estimated 80% of Americans suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives, and it is one of the most frequent causes for people missing work.
The lower back provides support to the majority of the body, and consists of many different support structures, including the spine, ligaments, tendons and muscles as well as the associated nerves that run through all of them. A problem can occur anywhere, particularly when an inappropriate load is placed on these support structures. This often happens when people lift heavy objects incorrectly, or during a sport or physical activity in which excessive strain is taken by the lower back and causes a sprain, strain or fracture. Lumbago may also be caused by aging of the spinal discs, osteoporosis, arthritis, or a more serious underlying condition such as a herniated disc, scoliosis, spondylosis or a spinal tumor. Then again, it may be due to something as (relatively) simple as poor posture or a vertebral subluxation.
In addition to generalized low back pain that can range from mild to severe, symptoms of lumbago may include a sharp, shooting pain radiating down the leg, muscle spasms, and tingling, numbness or weakness in the area of the low back and upper legs. Sneezing, coughing or laughing may exacerbate the pain, which may be either acute or chronic. Lumbago is often related to sciatica, a condition in which the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back, through the hip and down the leg becomes compressed or pinched. The compressed nerve can send pain radiating throughout the lower back and down the leg as far as the toes in some cases.
Conventional conservative treatments include rest, using hot or cold packs, taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and chiropractic care.
Your chiropractor has plenty of experience in treating low back pain and can perform the necessary diagnostic tests to determine what is causing your lumbago. He or she can perform spinal adjustments to correct any subluxations you may have that are contributing to the problem, in addition to suggesting exercises that can stretch, strengthen and stabilize the muscles that support your back.
Whatever the cause of your lumbago, your chiropractor has the skills and knowledge to help relieve the immediate pain and address the underlying condition.