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Spine Surgery Guide

Lumbago Treatment

What are the warning signs?

The main warning signs to look out for, and which warrant urgent investigation by your GP, are:
  • A sudden inability to control bladder or bowel movements.
  • A feeling of numbness or tingling in the area of the lower back, buttocks or legs.
  • A dull, aching pain in the lower back which is accompanied by reduced strength or muscle bulk in one or both legs.

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How is lumbago diagnosed?

In the majority of cases, your GP will be able to diagnose the problem on the basis of the information supplied by you, the patient. It is seldom necessary to take X-rays, scans or blood tests unless your GP feels there is a more serious underlying cause for the pain. Can lumbago be treated at home?

There are a number of practical steps which can be taken at home to reduce back pain. These include:
  • The use of painkillers or anti-inflammatory tablets to relieve the pain and relax the muscles.
  • Staying active. Resting for long periods of time is not helpful for those with back pain, so it is important to get on with your life within the limits of your pain.
  • Gentle exercise is beneficial, especially swimming in a warm swimming pool.
  • Developing good posture and having a firm, supportive chair and your worktop / desk at the correct height.
  • Resting and sleeping on a very firm, flat surface (some people actually sleep on the floor!).
  • Lumbago or backache is very rarely caused by a serious illness and will usually right itself within a matter of days or weeks, so try not to get too anxious or upset about it.
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But what if my lumbago is chronic?

Chronic lumbago is defined as backache which has persisted for more than three months, and obviously this type of pain will have an effect on your life. It is difficult to ascertain what type of treatment is most suitable for chronic back pain, but a range of treatments will probably be applied in the hope that one will succeed in relieving the pain. Unfortunately, some patients fail to find long-lasting relief from chronic back pain for a number of reasons.

Treatments which may be helpful include physiotherapy, a graded exercise programme and swimming. Some people with chronic low back pain find massage helpful.

What are the future prospects?

The prospects for sufferers of lumbago are good provided early treatment is sought and the patient remains as active as possible.

The vast majority of people are born with a healthy spinal column, which continues to perform heroically throughout the average lifespan, despite the fact that it is very often abused. It is a well-known fact that weak back and stomach muscles can contribute significantly to the risk of developing back pain. Therefore, it is essential that a programme of moderate exercise to strengthen these muscles is embarked upon.

Prevention is the key when dealing with the back, as very often it is too late to try to protect the back after the damage has been done.
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