Lower Back Pain: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments
The bane of many a reader's life, lower back pain is a common condition affecting around 80% of adults at some point in their lives which is a pretty alarming figure. It has a large impact on society, costing businesses in the UK an estimated £5–10 billion each year and leaving some people unable to get out of bed or perform normal activities.
While lower back pain often just needs time and rest to fade away, there are several conservative treatments like exercise and physical therapy that can help relieve your symptoms and help you get back to your everyday activities.
However, more and more people are starting to report fantastic results with CBD for their pain management, and in this guide, we'd like to introduce you to a new natural pain relief solution and ultimately recommend that you try HEMPE Hot & Ice gels as part of your treatment plan for lower back pain.
But before we do that, here are some important factors to understand about lower back pain and its impact on your body and general well-being.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain can have various underlying causes that we should take seriously due to its potential impact on our daily lives. Let's delve into the main factors that can lead to this discomfort:
- Injuries or illnesses — Common types of lower back pain often arise from injuries, such as muscle strains or stress. Additionally, conditions like arthritis can contribute to chronic lower back pain.
- Problems with spinal components — Lower back pain can also result from issues with bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, spinal joints, organs, facet joints, spinal discs, or blood vessels. Any disruption or damage to these structures can manifest as lower back pain.
- Lumbar spine damage — The lumbar spine comprises four protective vertebrae that safeguard the spinal cord and nerves. If one or more of these vertebrae become damaged, it can lead to lower back pain. This discomfort often occurs when the intervertebral discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, suffer injury or damage, thereby affecting the stability of the spinal column.
- Medical conditions and diseases — Lower back pain can be a symptom of various conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, sciatica (sciatic nerve damage), ankylosing spondylitis, and infections. These underlying health issues can contribute to persistent lower back pain.
- Lifestyle and environmental factors — In addition to the aforementioned causes, certain factors can increase the risk of experiencing lower back pain. These include stress, poor upper body posture, lack of exercise or physical activity, pregnancy, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and pre-existing medical conditions. These lifestyle and environmental factors can exacerbate lower back pain or make individuals more susceptible to developing it.
Who Does Lower Back Pain Affect?
Lower back pain can occur in individuals of all ages, but it tends to become more prevalent as we age. This is because older adults often grapple with chronic conditions like different types of arthritis, which can increase the risk of spinal injuries and contribute to the severity of lower back pain.
Interestingly, we're also witnessing a rise in lower back pain among young adults. This can be attributed, in part, to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. People who work desk jobs are particularly vulnerable to this type of pain. Spending long hours sitting and engaging in repetitive tasks can take a toll on the back, leading to discomfort. Poor sleep quality, which is often associated with desk-bound work, can further exacerbate the problem. Additionally, lower back pain is one of the most common injuries among golfers, so even leisure activities can contribute to its occurrence.
When you're dealing with back pain, it's natural to want to understand its cause and take steps to prevent future injuries. However, identifying the exact cause can be challenging, especially when it's not related to a specific injury or illness. The good news is that in many cases, lower back pain tends to improve quickly with simple treatments.
When to See a Doctor for Lower Back Pain
While most cases of lower back pain are not life-threatening, it's important to pay attention to certain signs that may indicate a more serious condition. If you experience any of the following, it's advisable to seek medical attention promptly:
- Persistent or severe pain that does not improve with rest
- Pain accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs
- Difficulty controlling bladder or bowel function
- Unexplained weight loss alongside back pain
- Fever or other signs of infection along with back pain
Remember, it's always better to err on the side of caution and consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your lower back pain.
Best Home Treatments for Lower Back Pain
When it comes to managing lower back pain, there are several effective home treatments that can help alleviate discomfort and promote healing. Let's explore some of the top treatment options:
Giving your back a break from your daily activities is essential for recovery. Take short periods of rest throughout the day, avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain. Find a comfortable position that supports your lower back, such as lying on your side with a pillow between your knees or on your back with a pillow under your knees.
While rest is important, a gentle exercise program can also play a crucial role in relieving lower back pain. Engaging in low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or yoga can help strengthen the core muscles that support your spine and improve flexibility. Consult with a healthcare professional or a certified trainer to find exercises that suit your condition and provide the necessary guidance.
Hot & Cold Therapy
Applying heat or cold to the affected area can provide temporary relief and reduce inflammation. Experiment with both approaches to see which works best for you — hot and cold therapy often involves alternating between hot and cold treatments to soothe pain and inflammation. A hot water bottle, heating pad, warm bath, or hot muscle gel can help improve blood flow, relax muscles, stimulate healing, and soothe the pain. Alternatively, cold packs, a cold muscle gel, or ice wrapped in a thin towel can help numb the area and reduce swelling and inflammation.
Topical Pain Relief Gels
Over-the-counter topical gels or creams can provide fast and targeted relief when applied to the affected area. Look for products containing ingredients like menthol, camphor, or capsaicin, which can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the instructions on the product for safe and effective use.
We recommend that you try the HEMPE Hot & Cold Muscle Gel bundle — these CBD muscle gels combine the benefits of hot and cold therapy with topical pain relief, using natural ingredients. CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and you'll see from independently verified reviews that many people using them are finding relief from lower back pain and even chronic pain.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
For mild to moderate lower back pain, over-the-counter pain relievers can also be effective. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can provide pain relief and target inflammation. As with any medication, it's important to follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or conditions that may interact with these drugs.
Learn more in our guide to oral vs. topical pain solutions.
Professional Treatments for Lower Back Pain
While home treatments can be effective for managing lower back pain, there are times when seeking professional assistance becomes necessary. Here are some professional treatments that can provide additional relief and support:
Acupuncture is an ancient practice rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and alleviate pain. Many individuals with lower back pain have found acupuncture to be a helpful complementary therapy. By stimulating these acupuncture points, the treatment aims to restore the body's balance and release natural pain-relieving substances. If you're considering acupuncture, seek a qualified and licensed acupuncturist for safe and effective treatment.
Learn more in our guide to natural pain relief.
Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, utilises a variety of techniques to manage and rehabilitate lower back pain. A qualified physiotherapist can assess your condition with a physical exam and see what types of movements make the pain worse. From there, they will develop a personalised treatment plan, and guide you through exercises and stretches that target the affected area.
They may also incorporate other modalities such as manual therapy, heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation. Physiotherapy aims to improve flexibility, strength, and mobility, helping you regain optimal functioning and reduce pain.
Chiropractic care focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other manual techniques to address misalignments and muscle spasms, reduce pain, and improve overall function. They may also provide guidance on exercises, posture correction, and lifestyle modifications to support long-term spinal health.
Depending on your medical history and need of having it, sometimes you may receive an epidural injection to decrease the pain and increase movement. This is only given in extreme cases.
Can CBD Help with Lower Back Pain?
In a nutshell, yes, it absolutely can, and it's proven to do so!
CBD, short for cannabidiol, has gained attention for its potential therapeutic effects, including pain management. While research on CBD's specific impact on lower back pain is still evolving, some studies suggest that CBD may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that could provide relief. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating pain perception and inflammation. It may help reduce pain signals and inflammation in the lower back area.
CBD is becoming increasingly popular among consumers who want natural alternatives for treating certain conditions. If you're interested in learning more about how CBD can help alleviate lower back pain, check out our guide to using CBD for pain relief.
How to Prevent Lower Back Pain
While it may not always be possible to completely prevent lower back pain, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and minimize its occurrence. Here are some preventive measures to consider:
Maintain good posture: Practice proper posture during various activities, such as sitting, standing, and lifting. Avoid slouching or hunching forward, and engage your core muscles to support your spine.
Exercise regularly: Engage in regular physical activity to strengthen your back and core muscles. Activities such as walking, swimming, and yoga can help improve flexibility, stability, and overall spinal health.
Lift with care: Use proper lifting techniques by bending your knees, keeping your back straight, and lifting objects close to your body. Avoid twisting or jerking motions while lifting heavy objects.
Take frequent breaks: If your work or daily routine involves long periods of sitting or standing, take regular breaks to stretch, change positions, and move around. This helps prevent prolonged stress on your back.
Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can strain your back and increase the risk of developing lower back pain. Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Practice stress management: Chronic stress can contribute to muscle tension and exacerbate lower back pain. Incorporate stress management techniques such as relaxation exercises, meditation, or engaging in activities you enjoy.
- Use proper ergonomics: Ensure your work environment, including your desk, chair, and computer setup, is ergonomically designed to promote good posture and minimize strain on your back.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can negatively affect blood flow and contribute to spinal disc degeneration. Quitting smoking can improve overall spinal health and reduce the risk of lower back pain.
Lower Back Pain FAQs
How should I sleep to relieve back pain?
Sleeping on a firm bed is the best way to reduce back pain. If you cannot afford a new mattress, you can try sleeping on a foam pad. Try using pillows to support your neck and head. Also, avoid sleeping on your stomach because it puts pressure on your neck and spinal canal. If you have lower back pain, sleeping on your side can help alleviate discomfort, with the left side often considered beneficial for overall health. Consider using lumbar supports to maintain a straight body position while lying down.
What organ could cause lower back pain?
Kidney-related issues such as kidney stones, kidney infections (pyelonephritis), or kidney disease can manifest as lower back pain. When the kidneys are affected, the pain is typically felt in the flank area, which is the side of the lower back. If you experience persistent or severe lower back pain, especially accompanied by other symptoms like urinary changes, fever, or blood in the urine, it is important to seek medical attention to evaluate the possibility of kidney involvement.
However, it's important to note that lower back pain primarily stems from issues with the musculoskeletal system. The spinal column is composed of bones called vertebrae and discs which act like shock absorbers between each bone. You may experience pain if a disc presses on spinal nerve roots.
Muscle strain is another common cause, where tight muscles exert pressure on joints, sometimes accompanied by joint pain or leg pain. It's essential to consider the possibility of organ-related lower back pain and consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Is it better to sit or lay down with lower back pain?
When experiencing lower back pain, it is generally recommended to avoid prolonged periods of sitting or lying down in the same position. Both sitting and lying down can potentially exacerbate back pain if proper posture and support are not maintained.
If you need to sit, choose a chair with good lumbar support and sit with your feet flat on the floor. Consider using a cushion or rolled-up towel to support the natural curve of your lower back. Take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk around.
When lying down, find a comfortable position that supports your spine. For some individuals, lying on their back with a pillow placed under their knees can help relieve pressure on the lower back. Others may find relief by lying on their side with a pillow between their knees to maintain spinal alignment.
Next Steps Towards Remedying Lower Back Pain
If you've read this article, chances are you're in the throws of discomfort and looking for a solution to your chronic or acute back pain, no matter what shape or form it takes — and we're here to help.
There are many reasons that we get lower back pain including illness, muscle strain, or stress. While we should always take severe or persistent pain seriously, lower back pain is thankfully something that's usually easy to treat — and very often it will go away on its own with time.
There are several treatments that help like rest, a gentle exercise programme, anti-inflammatories, and hot and cold therapy. As a new alternative and natural solution, we highly recommend trying out CBD. A topical pain relief solution like HEMPE CBD Muscle Gels can harness the natural soothing and healing properties of CBD in a fast-acting, topical solution. Try it today and see how quickly your lower back pain symptoms can fade away.
Don't just take our word for it, hear from the people who've tried it for themselves: