Low Back Pain What’s Serious and What’s Not?

Posted by Dr. Podesta on March 17, 2011 with 21,054 Comments

Low back pain is the most common medical disorder and the most costly of all medical diagnoses in industrialized societies. Low back pain occurs in fifty-seven percent of women and fifty-one percent in men, and increases with age to the age of 60 years-old. The first attack of LBP usually occurs in our thirties with ninety percent of complaints resolving without medical treatment in six to twelve weeks. However, when low back pain occurs with sciatica, or leg pain, seventy-five percent of which becomes asymptomatic within six months, with a sixty percent recurrence rate over the next two years.

Low back pain is a very common complaint among drummers. Unfortunately, drummers are sitting in awkward positions, twisting, bending and on occasion having to carry heavy, awkward pieces of drum equipment, which can lead to lumbar spine injury.

Over the next three months I will discuss some of the most common conditions related causing low back pain, how these conditions occur and how they can be prevented and treated. Unfortunately, there are a number of areas in the lumbar spine that can generate pain including the supporting muscles and ligaments, intervertebral discs, nerves, boney structures, joints, infection as well as referred pain from other areas of the body.

The most causes of low back pain include lifting, standing, bending, twisting, carrying heavy objects, or sitting for long periods of time. Back pain can also be caused by strenuous exercise. Pain in the lumbar spine can also be exacerbated by tension and stress. Disc herniations on the other hand, can be caused by violent sneezing and coughing which increases pressure around the discs, causing them to herniate. Low back pain can also occur when the muscles, joints, bones and supporting connective tissues of the back become inflamed as the result of any rheumatologic disorders or infections. Arthritic conditions can also predispose patients to back pain. Back pain accompanied by loss of bladder and bowel control, difficulty in moving your legs, as well as numbness and tingling in your arms and legs are indicative of significant spine injuries. They require immediate medial treatment.

Drumming requires us to sit for long periods of time, reach and twist from a seated position. When the supporting muscles of the spine are not well prepared to perform these activities for extended periods of time or if these activities are undertaken in a mechanically incorrect position injury can occur to the muscles, ligaments, joints or boney structures supporting the low back.

Low back pain most commonly is caused by an injury to the supporting muscles, or ligaments in the lumbar spine which function to hold the vertebrae in proper position. The lumbar vertebrae are bones that make up the spinal column to which the spinal cord passes. These soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) can fatigue, weaken, and partially and or completely tear with repetitive flexion and extension of the spine, especially, when twisting motions are added. When the spine looses that stability it can result in pain. Pain due to muscle strain, or ligament injury (sprain), most commonly is referred locally throughout the muscles affected and into the buttocks and possibly into the back of the thigh. Usually, this pain does not pass beyond the knee. Tingling and numbness in the leg may indicate a herniated disc or a pinched nerve, but usually is not present when muscle or ligament injury occurs. If weakness, numbness, tingling or radiating pain past the knee develops, consult your doctor immediately.

When low back pain is associated with changes in bowel and or bladder function, sexual functioning; night pain awakening you from sleep, unexplained weight loss, failure of bed rest to relieve pain or when associated with a febrile illness medical attention should be sought immediately

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