United Arab Emirates, Dubai – 19 February, 2017: Lower back pain is one of the most common health problems experienced by people, and is considered one of the main causes for absenteeism in the workplace. According to World Health Organization statistics, the lifetime prevalence of non-specific (common) low back pain is estimated at 60 per cent to 70 cent in industrialized countries. The presence of this condition is generally observed in people between the ages of 30 and 55 years. However, the number of younger people suffering from this condition is also said to be increasing each year.
Dr. Sebouh Z. Kassis, Specialist Neurosurgeon, Burjeel Hospital of Advanced Surgery, and one of the country’s experts in the area of spine surgery, said, “In most cases, low back pain is not due to a serious disease or spinal problems, and can be termed as non-specific lower back pain. It can be attributed to a number of factors that can range from injuries to the back, muscle strain, poor posture, sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Psychological issues stemming from stress and anxiety may make the condition worst. People who are involved in jobs such as construction or those who have to stand for long hours at the workplace or to regularly lift heavy objects and pregnant women are at a higher risk of lower back pain. When it comes to the non-specific type, it is often difficult to trace the root cause of the pain.”
“People who experience this condition could have mild to severe symptoms with lower back pain which can also spread to the buttocks or upper part of the thighs. A non-specific back pain does not spread down to the foot and is not associated with abnormal feelings in the legs such as numbness, tingling sensation or pins and needles. A doctor will conduct a physical examination to check for the site of the pain, if there is a muscle spasm and confirm if the pain is non-specific in nature. However, a more detailed evaluation using an x-ray and MRI may be required based on the severity of the pain and the presence other symptoms to determine the cause. With non-specific back pain, radiographic exams may not show abnormal findings in the spine most of the time” added Dr. Kassis.
Non-specific lower back pain could be caused by lifting something heavy or twisting awkwardly. Sometimes, a person could just get up with back pain from sleeping in an uncomfortable position. Stress can also worsen symptoms of pain in the lower back. “Stress causes the body to release stress hormones, which in turn, cause certain physical, mental and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a perceived threat — also called the fight or flight response. These stress hormones – as part of this response – cause muscles in the body to tighten. Often, this rigidity and tightness can result in pain in areas such as the neck, shoulders and lower back especially if the person goes through prolonged periods of stress,” said Dr. Kassis.
Individuals suffering from non-specific low back pain usually take a week or sometimes longer to see an improvement in the pain. It is, however, common to experience bouts of pain once in a while after the initial event. Doctors usually prescribe a short period of rest and medication to aid recovery.
“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and medication such as muscle relaxants are prescribed. Heat therapy may help to relax the muscles. Physiotherapy including manual therapy, exercises to improve flexibility, correct posture and body mechanics may be needed additionally.
If the pain persists for more than 2 weeks, worsens or spreads to the legs, or causes numbness or weaknesses in the legs, see a doctor immediately, as it could indicate a more serious problem such as a prolapsed disc, infection or other neurological condition,” explained Dr. Kassis.
“Prevention is the key to avoiding lower back pain. The regular practice of exercises that promote muscle flexibility and strength are highly recommended to avoid this. Proper body mechanics are equally important in avoiding injury to the lower back so the right posture and the correct way to lift things or bend can save you a lot of pain and a visit to the doctor. It’s also important to be extra careful before being engaged in active physical exercises if a person has previously suffered from lower back pain, as the chances of injury is higher,” added Dr. Kassis.