Lumbago symptoms of low back pain are quite common and estimated to affect approximately 80 percent of adults at some time in their life.
The underlying issues that can lead to low back pain are often complex and difficult to diagnose and will be quite different than the causes of something similar like upper left back pain.
So, it’s important to understand lumbago causes, the associated symptoms, and treatment approaches that will help speed up recovery and healing time.
What is Lumbago?
Lumbago is a general term that simply refers to low back pain, but there are two specific types of pain that many people deal with:
- Axial back pain
- Low back pain with referred pain
Axial back pain is often is often referred to as a mechanical back pain issue, meaning pain is typically brought on by certain activities like sports or pain that becomes worse in certain positions, such as sitting for long periods.
Generally, axial back pain will subside with rest.
Axial back pain is the most common type of Lumbago. While it can range in severity, from mild to severe, with sharp or dull pains that may be experienced constantly or periodically, the pain is confined to the low back area and does not travel to the buttocks, legs, or other parts of the body.
Low back pain with referred pain is typically felt in the low back region, but also in areas like the groin, upper thigh, and buttocks, though it’s uncommon for pain to move below the knees.
This is due to the complex network of nerves that operate in tissues of the groin, pelvis, thigh, and low back.
Pain can also vary from mild to severe and be dull or achy. However, low back pain with referred pain is not as common as axial back pain.
Low Back Pain Causes of Lumbago
It’s not always clear as to the exact causes of low back pain, but lumbago can occur due to several factors.
The most common causes are generally from overuse of the low back region and poor technique when attempting to lift a heavy load, or during strenuous physical activities, such as sports or a physically demanding occupation.
Excessive bending that continually strains the back can lead to lumbago, as well remaining in one position, particularly seated, for long periods of time.
Other low back pain causes of Lumbago can include issues like the following:
- Osteoarthritis and spinal arthritis
- Slipped or herniated discs
- Compressed spinal nerves
- Benign or malignant tumors
Understanding lumbago symptoms can help people limit their activity, see a physician if necessary, and give their body time to heal without further injury.
Lumbago Symptoms of Low Back Pain
The main symptom of lumbago is low back pain, but it’s also important to be able to identify the other related symptoms.
Low Back Pain Symptoms of Lumbago may include the following:
- Low back stiffness, muscle tension, and aches that can affect mobility
- Pain that is either limited to one small area of the low back, or pain that radiates to other areas, like the buttocks, groin, or back of the leg
- Numbness or tingling in the back of the leg, buttocks, or low back region
- Inflammation in the back of the leg
- Feeling restricted in movements of the spine, like when leaning forward or backward
- Pain when coughing or sneezing
Diagnosis of Low Back Pain or Lumbago
Unfortunately, getting an accurate diagnosis of the cause of lumbago can be much more difficult and challenging than people might think.
At the onset of symptoms, physicians need to know how the back feels and its distribution of pain, meaning whether it’s confined to the low back region or radiating to other areas.
A thorough patient history, discussion of recent physical activity, and a physical exam will be required.
In many cases, physicians will want patients to get x-rays or an MRI if appropriate in order to get a clear visual examination of the bones and soft tissue in the area of pain.
All of these diagnostic approaches can help determine whether the lumbago is the result of a soft-tissue injury, like a pulled muscle, or more serious issues like a spinal fracture, a slipped or herniated disc, or other structural issues.
It’s important to note that people experiencing pain in the back that includes fever and chills, bowel or bladder issues, abdominal pain, or significant leg weakness should seek immediate medical evaluation.
These issues can be related to very serious medical conditions, like infections or spinal tumors.
Low Back Pain Treatments for Lumbago
Low back pain treatments for lumbago will vary based on a number of factors, such as the type and severity of pain a person is experiencing, as well as a person’s age, weight, and level of physical activity.
Effective Low Back Pain Treatments for Lumbago Include:
1. Anti-Inflammatory Pain Medications
Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications, such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil), when used as directed can reduce both pain and inflammation in the injured area.
2. Hot or Cold Therapy
Hot or cold therapy with a heating pad or ice compress can help reduce inflammation in the injured area and relieve some of the associated pain. Heat often works best with chronic pain, while cold may be better for acute pain.
A doctor can recommend which is best, and it’s important to only apply hot or cold therapy for no longer than 10 to 20 minutes at a time unless otherwise directed.
3. Low Back Pain Exercises or Stretches
Light exercises or stretches can be helpful for keeping the area from getting tight or stiff, and will promote blood flow. Make sure to avoid vigorous stretching or exercising unless recommended by a doctor or therapist.
4. Yoga for Lumbago
Yoga is an excellent low impact activity that can both strengthen muscles and provide greater flexibility in the area of the back prone to tension and pain. Yoga is ideal either before an injury occurs, or after pain subsides to avoid future injuries.
Acupuncture may help ease low back pain or symptoms related to lumbago, as the practice is believed to stimulate the central nervous system and promote the body’s natural healing processes.
6. EPAT / Shockwave Therapy
EPAT Therapy is a noninvasive and painless approach for treating and healing a wide range of pain and injuries, including lumbago.
It is sometimes referred to as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) because it uses pressure waves or “shockwaves” to heal and treat injuries.
A Shockwave machine delivers low or high-energy pressure waves directed at the area of the low back pain that is caused by damaged or injured tissue.
Shockwaves work by improving circulation and cell metabolism, healing collagen fibers, and breaking up scar tissue when necessary.
EPAT / Shockwave Therapy is an excellent way to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow to the area, promote new blood vessel growth, and speed up healing and recovery.
This treatment method can also be administered while a person is in the resting phase of recovery or while incorporating physical therapy treatment.
7. Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic and spinal manipulation treatment can help realign the spine and body, and often provides relief from many types of lumbago.
8. Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy is a great way to regain strength and mobility during recovery, while learning the proper techniques for movements that may have lead to lumbago in the first place.
Surgery for low back pain is generally only required after nonsurgical treatment methods have failed to work and the pain hasn’t resolved within three months or more.
If a person is able to perform normal life functions with manageable pain or limited pain that does not interrupt sleep, noninvasive forms of treatment are preferred.
There are inherent risks with back surgery that require a thorough discussion with a surgeon before making a decision.
Hopefully the low back pain treatments for lumbago outlined above will be effective for healing and recovery so surgery doesn’t have to be considered as an option.