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Lower Back Pain - Overview

Back pain is extremely common in our society. Chances are that you or someone you know suffers from back pain. The most common cause of lower back pain is a muscle strain or other soft tissue damage. Pain in the lower back (sometimes referred to as lumbago) is a common musculoskeletal disorder affecting over 75% of adults in the US at some point in their lifetime. Back pain is one of the most common complaints brought to doctors in the US and is currently the third most expensive healthcare problem in the US. Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost days at work and accounts for more sick leave and disability than any other medical condition. Of course, some problems are more severe than others. Nevertheless, the percentage is higher than ever.

The reason why people experience back and neck pain can vary greatly on a case by case basis. Accidents account for some of the cases, but most of the time problems develop from sleeping at a bad angle, a sudden movement, bad posture, lack of exercise, a sport injury, stress, or depression. Numerous things can cause body ache, discomfort, and pain.

Some studies show that approximately 50% of patients will experience relief within two weeks and approximately 80% with three months. This is good news for most but not for those folks who continue to experience chronic discomfort or pain. The studies also note that 20 percent of all lower back pain cases recur within 6 months.

The lower back area is designed to provide a great deal of strength, protecting the highly sensitive spinal cord and nerve roots. It connects the upper and lower parts of the body, and bears most of the body's weight. The lower back is flexible, providing for mobility in all directions but can easily be injured and cause pain or discomfort. Pain in the lower back is a symptom that can involve disease or injury to the muscles, bones, and/or nerves of the spine. Lower back pain can affect the back from the bottom of the ribs and continue down to the tailbone.

Depending on the cause, low back pain can take on a wide variety of characteristics, and can cause a range of symptoms that may include a dull ache, a sharp or piercing pain, or even a burning sensation. The pain can be constant, intermittent, or only occur with certain positions or activities. It can be confined to a single point, cover a broad area, or radiate to other areas of the back, neck, arms, hands, or leg and foot. Lower back pain usually includes muscle spasms or stiffness. It can also include symptoms like weakness, numbness, or tingling.

Lower-back pain often disrupts many aspects of one's lifestyle and quality of life. It can be an unfortunate life changing experience.

Each person has a responsibility to minimize or avoid health problems such as back pain to the best of their ability. Continue to educate yourself and take action steps such as meditation, Qi Gong, exercising, nutrition and good posture to improve your lifestyle and quality of life.

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