Lumbago 101: Definition, Causes, Preventions, and Treatments
If you’ve sat there researching Lumbago, it’s probably a major pain in the back (or lower back) for you right now (pun intended). It's often confused with sciatica pain, but lumbago is a more general term to describe all lower back pain. Whether you heard the term from your doctor or a friend, it’s time for some straight talk on what exactly lumbago is, how long it lasts and the best way to treat it.
Let’s get started.
Lumbago is defined as pain in the muscles and joints of the lower back. It can affect up to 80% of adults. The causes and symptoms may vary, but many tend to be posture and work related.
What Causes Lumbago?
No one knows for sure what causes lumbago, but it is quite a common experience for many people. Whether from a slipped disc, osteoporosis, or another manner, most of the time it’s because the muscles in the area have weakened in one way or another.
The back is such a strong and complex system of biomechanical engineering, with so many connections to the rest of your body, it's easy for something to go wrong and affect you elsewhere. There are so many muscles and nerves running down your back to your extremities that a problem in the lower back can refer elsewhere, leading to hip problems, leg pain or similar.
For many people with lumbago, they can treat it through physical therapy and with a variety of the routines and movements found in MoveWell.
Symptoms of Lumbago
Lumbago comes with a variety of symptoms. You may or may not have all these symptoms to be diagnosed with Lumbago, but if you do - see your doctor.
- Muscle spasms
- Stiffness of the lower back
- Soreness and sensitivity.
- Trouble walking
- Pain moving throughout your lower extremities.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should start treatment immediately.
What You Can Do To Prevent Lumbago
As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure. Here's what you can do to help prevent dealing with lumbago (or making it worse if you already have it).
- Regularly exercise and build muscle
It's recommended that adults get about 150 minutes of exercise each week. Regularly moving and if you can, building muscle, will help to stave off back pain. Building muscle can mean lifting weights but it can also mean yoga, swimming or even just walking with correct posture. You need to move whenever you can and even just building small bits of activity throughout your day will help in the long run.
If you're experiencing chronic pain then check any exercise routine with a medical professional before going HAM on it.
- Consider a paleo or keto diet to get into your target weight range to prevent straining your back unnecessarily
A lower body weight means less pressure on your spine, the joints and the muscles of the lower back and pelvis. Being overweight puts you at greater risk of developing back pain as every movement will apply greater stressors to your back. Use the links above to find a plan for you if you need some help.
- Work on improving your posture while working and walking
Even if you're doing low impact activity like walking, or even just sitting and working, over time you can build up poor postural habits that can compromise the lower back and lead to lumbago. Here are some tips on how to sit at your desk correctly and here's a good guide to correct walking posture.
- Avoid lifting heavy without proper form if you're not experienced at it
Lifting heavy weights is a great way to build muscle and improve your overall health. The only thing is, it needs doing properly to gain the full benefits and to avoid unnecessary injury. It's particularly easy to injure your lower back as good back position is crucial to most, if not all weightlifting techniques. Get some expert advice or coaching if you want to start getting after big lifts.
- Maintain good form and user correct body mechanics when lifting heavy everyday objects
It's not only lifting weights that can cause your back some bother. Lifting everyday objects with poor form can put your back out. Use the guide above to learn how to lift everyday stuff with correct posture but basically, use your legs!
- Make sure you regularly stretch your glutes and stretch your quads to alleviate pressure on your lower back
The muscles around your back all attach to it, meaning that muscle tightness will cause strain on your back. Even if this tightness doesn't cause an immediate problem, it can compound over time, causing issues down the track. Keep your muscles loose with our routines.
We've put together routines for you that cover a range of situations and requirements. By doing a routine consistently, you'll continue to improve your strength, range of motion and flexibility over time, giving you more latitude to deal with life's stressors. There's no perfect time to start - you need to make time for it and priorities yourself. So do it.
While none of these guarantee you won't experience lumbago - they will greatly increase your chance of building a stronger body that can help prevent it.
How To Treat Lumbago
In addition to all the lumbago prevention tips we just mentioned, there's a variety of treatment options for lumbago as well.
- anti-inflammatories for temporary pain relief
- hot or cold compresses
- a regular routine of gentle stretches
- yoga or MoveWell routines to improve flexibility and strength
- low impact, less strenuous exercise like walking or gentle swimming
- chiropractic & spinal manipulation
- physical therapy
- back surgery (although there can be major complications with this)
The best option for Lumbago is to prevent it from ever happening by building a strong body that won't experience it.
Many people who experience Lumbago decide to use a belt to help support and compress your lower back to help alleviate pain. These are typically called lumbago belts or support belts.
Some of our favorite go-to belts are below:
Does Lumbago Ever Go Away?
While it’s tough to say that Lumbago may or may not ever go away, the good news is that if it’s simply discomfort, you can usually treat it with mobility and movement exercises.
Uncle Lumbago (Just For Fun)
In the video game Red Dead Redemption one of the main characters complains of his lumbago throughout the storyline. It made us laugh and hopefully eases the pain in your back too.
Other Lumabago Research + Resources
Other lumbago research and helpful links you might find include: