What to do with back pain: determine the cause and choose the treatment

Back pain in the lumbar region

The back is a complex structure based on the spine. The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae, starting from the 20th from the top. They are the largest among the other vertebrae and down, from the first to the fifth lumbar vertebra, gradually increase in size, as this area has the greatest load. The back in the area of these vertebrae is called the lower back.

Changes in this part of the back lead to pain and it is worth treating such problems carefully. Pain can be caused by both congenital anomalies and acquired diseases. These can be the consequences of injuries during intense physical activity, infections, tumors, hernias and others.

Causes of back pain

In most cases, low back pain is caused by osteochondrosis. But it is not the only cause of lumbar pain. Some people don't even know why their backs are problematic. Many diseases of the internal organs, injuries and physiological conditions are affected by back pain and this list includes:

  • kidney and pelvic disease;
  • physiological pain during menstruation in women;
  • spinal cord injury;
  • injuries (sprains) of the back muscles;
  • diseases of the digestive system;
  • scoliosis;
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • infections that destroy the spine and discs (tuberculosis, epidural abscess);
  • tumor processes;
  • Reiter's syndrome.

Diseases of the musculoskeletal system

In 90% of cases, back pain is caused by problems with the spine and spinal muscle. The lumbar vertebrae are affected more often than other parts of the spine. They suffer enormous loads when walking, being the center of gravity for upright people. In addition, there is a lot of pressure on the lower back when sitting.

Musculoskeletal disorders can be asymptomatic for a long time, and back pain is often the first sign of the disease. It can be of varying intensity and duration - intermittent low back pain or acute pain syndrome with pinching of nerve roots.

Pathologies in which back pain includes:

  • osteochondrosis;
  • intervertebral horizontal protrusions, vertical hernia (Schmorl) and disc protrusion;
  • primary and secondary (metastatic) malignant tumors in the bones and soft tissues of the back;
  • myositis of the muscles of the lower back;
  • osteomyelitis (an infectious purulent process caused by a pathogenic microflora, for example, a tubercle bacillus or a cause of brucellosis);
  • ankylosing spondylitis;
  • radiculitis;
  • sciatica (damage or irritation of the sciatic nerve);
  • deforming spondylosis;
  • rheumatoid arthritis and Reiter's syndrome;
  • diseases of the sacroiliac and hip joints;
  • epiduritis (inflammation of the dura mater of the spinal cord);
  • rachiocampis;
  • injuries to bone structures, muscles and ligaments of the back;
  • metabolic changes in bone tissue (osteoporosis, osteomalacia).

Acute lower back pain is often called lumbago (back pain). Its main causes are vertebral displacement, intervertebral hernias and congenital anomalies of the spine. Back pain can last from a few hours to a few days and stop suddenly if the "vertebra is in place".

Pain in kidney disease

Often lower back pain accompanies renal pathology. It does not change with the position of the body and increases if a person stays on his feet for a long time. It is more often one-sided and shows chronic diseases. You should see a doctor if your back hurts and you have the following symptoms:

  • signs of intoxication and general malaise (chills, fatigue, etc. );
  • swelling of the eyelids and face in the morning;
  • disturbance of the process of urination (frequent, painful, etc. );
  • increase or decrease in blood pressure;
  • nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting;
  • change in urine parameters (too dark, cloudy, with an unpleasant odor, etc. ).

The appearance of blood in the urine and severe back pain are characteristic of an attack of urolithiasis. In this case, the painful sensations can be given from behind along the ureter, in the groin, genitals and the inner surface of the thigh.

Haematuria may also indicate kidney cancer. But unlike urolithiasis, in most cases the tumors grow asymptomatically for a long time and the back hurts only in the last stage of the process.

Low back pain and pregnancy

During pregnancy and childbirth, a woman's lower back experiences tremendous stress. If the expectant mother has back pain, it may be a physiological phenomenon or signal the development or exacerbation of the disease.

Increased load

Any physical activity can provoke back pain. It can occur after summer work, weight lifting, intense strength training and more.


Being overweight has a negative effect on the condition of the spine. Every extra pound is an extra strain on the waist.

In obese individuals, the risk of developing osteochondrosis and intervertebral hernias increases dramatically. Overweight people are also prone to the formation of kidney stones, early onset of osteoporosis and other pathologies that cause back pain.

Other reasons

Sometimes your back hurts for other reasons:

  1. Pathological. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (colitis, intestinal tumors, gallstones, etc. ); pathology of the pelvic organs (prostatitis, endometriosis, neoplasms, infections and inflammation); circulatory disorders in the spine; atherosclerosis or aneurysm of the abdominal aorta.
  2. Physiological. Prolonged static load on the back, prolonged computer operation, many hours of driving and more.

Lumbodinia can radiate to the lower back in ectopic pregnancy and "acute abdomen".

Types of pain and their causes

When the back hurts in the lumbar region, sometimes a person cannot even move. The nature of the pain can change within a day: first you feel a dull pain in the lower back, then sharp and then it subsides again. In addition, it can be permanent and not fade. At a young age, everything is easier to tolerate than in the elderly, when the lower back hurts constantly.

In general, pain is a mechanism for recognizing problems caused by disease. Pain reveals a hidden problem, so it plays a huge role. But, of course, you can't stand it. You should immediately contact a specialist who will determine the cause and prescribe treatment.

Chronic pain

Chronic back pain is a common companion of diseases of the spine and internal organs. It is pronounced and persistent in cancer patients with metastases in the vertebrae or their primary tumor lesion.

Acute pain

Acute lower back pain can signal a serious problem that requires proactive tactics. The following pathologies attract her:

  • spinal fracture and other acute back injuries;
  • exacerbation of inflammatory processes in the joints;
  • epiduritis of the spine;
  • intervertebral hernia;
  • exacerbation of osteochondrosis;
  • acute abdomen (intestinal obstruction, appendicitis, ovarian apoplexy, etc. );
  • movement of stones with ICD or gallstone disease;
  • pinched nerves;
  • acute circulatory disorders in the vessels of the back;
  • pyelonephritis in the acute phase.

If a pregnant woman feels that her back hurts a lot, she should seek medical help immediately. In case of severe pain in the child's lower back, parents are obliged to show the baby to the pediatrician.

Strong pain

If you are worried about severe back pain and taking analgesics does not help, you should consult a doctor.

Painful pains

Lower back pain is often thought to be the result of muscle fatigue. This is a misconception. Sometimes the back hurts in severe pathologies of the pelvis (prostate cancer in men and uterine cancer in women).

Also, painful sensations of a similar nature are characteristic of slow infectious processes, growing benign tumors and hernias. Over time, they intensify, complemented by other signs of the disease.

Displaced pain

When the back hurts and the lumbodia is different in intensity and duration, the cause may be not one pathology, but several. You need to make an appointment with a specialist and undergo a comprehensive examination.

Which doctor should I go to?

If your lower back hurts, you should see a therapist first. The doctor will take a medical history, describe the back pain in detail, perform an examination and prepare a plan for diagnostic measures. Depending on their results, he will prescribe treatment or send for consultation to a narrow specialist:

  • neurologist;
  • vertebral neurologist;
  • gastroenterologist;
  • neurosurgeon.


When the lower back hurts, diagnostic measures are prescribed in the complex. Laboratory tests, ultrasound examinations, X-ray methods, instrumental examinations and others are obligatory.


Bone radiography is a simple and accessible diagnostic method. In pathology of the spine, all existing defects are visible on the images. Focusing on the data obtained, the doctor makes a diagnosis and determines the further tactics for managing a patient who has back pain.

CT scan

Computed tomography is prescribed to clarify the diagnosis and strictly according to the indications. The tomograms clearly show bone defects that provoke low back pain.


Magnetic resonance imaging is a modern highly informative diagnostic method. Allows you to explore any part of the body. It is used to assess the condition of blood vessels, nerve structures, spinal cord and internal organs.

Despite its relative safety, it can not be assigned to "all in a row" who have back pain. The study has a number of contraindications.

Possible complications and consequences of pain

If you do not consult a doctor and find out the cause of back pain, the consequences can be serious. The symptom cannot be ignored.

When the back hurts intensely, injuries to the spine or acute processes in the abdomen are possible. Neglecting lumbodia with pinched nerves can lead to permanent loss of sensitivity and motor activity. Lower back pain is fraught with serious consequences, such as rupture of internal organs, bleeding, abscess, sepsis and others.

First aid for acute pain

If you have severe back pain, call a doctor or ambulance. Before the arrival of the doctor, the patient needs:

  • take a position "comfortable for the lumbar";
  • take an anesthetic and if there is no effect, repeat the pill after half an hour (give an intramuscular injection);
  • relieving spasms with medication;
  • eliminate possible swelling by drinking a diuretic or herbal tea;
  • improving tissue nutrition by taking a complex vitamin and mineral preparation;
  • lubricate the lower back with ointment or gel.

Sometimes they use folk methods (tincture of horseradish, pepper or nettle). When your back hurts, you should adhere to a "unloading" diet, to exclude any irritating factors.

How to recover from low back pain?

There are several treatments for back and lower back pain. But they are all related to either traditional (medical methods) or alternative.

Traditional methods include:

  • bed rest;
  • drug treatment;
  • physiotherapy;
  • surgical treatment;

Alternative methods include:

  • massage;
  • acupuncture;
  • yoga classes.

The main purpose of these methods is to alleviate suffering and the golden rule: "Do no harm. "

When the back hurts, in the first place, it is necessary to consult a doctor and on the basis of the established diagnosis and the received recommendations to conduct treatment at home. Injections, electrical procedures should be done in a medical institution, and back massage, application of warming compresses and ointments on the lower back and taking pills can be taken not only in the clinic but also at home. Self-medication and improper adherence to the recommendations will only hurt.

Medication treatment

Medical treatment should be prescribed by a doctor depending on the cause of the back pain. Self-administration of pharmaceutical products is unacceptable.

Ointments and gels

Lubrication of the back is recommended in diseases of the musculoskeletal system. The following types of ointments are distinguished:

  • combined, having several effects (relieving inflammation, relieving pain, treatment);
  • anti-inflammatory analgesics (contain menthol, lavender and similar ingredients);
  • irritants (plant, animal or synthetic);
  • chondroprotectors (to restore and protect cartilage tissue).

If the lower back hurts, but the diagnosis is unclear, you should not use external means.


Sometimes back pain is treated with injections. The doctor injects an analgesic into the affected area. In some situations, a blockade with anesthetics is used.


When your back hurts, exercise therapy is almost always recommended. Gymnastics helps to strengthen the muscular frame of the lower back, improve tissue trophism and stretch ligaments. The set of exercises is chosen individually.

Mass therapy

Low back pain can be effectively eliminated through massage therapy. You can turn to professionals or perform the manipulations yourself. In pathology of internal organs and neoplasms it is impossible to massage the back.


If your back hurts, physiotherapy is prescribed for a number of diseases. Physiotherapy is especially effective in low back osteochondrosis. They use magnetic therapy, laser treatment, electrophoresis, pulse currents, hirudotherapy and other techniques.

Prevention of back pain

If a person has a chronic illness that can cause back pain, prevention will be to prevent exacerbations. In order not to encounter this symptom in general, you must first monitor the health of the spine. If your back hurts, the preventive measures are:

  • active lifestyle;
  • daily gymnastics;
  • balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals;
  • adequate physical activity for the back;
  • exclusion of injuries to the lower back;
  • lack of stress;
  • treatment of foci of infection.

Annual preventive examinations are of great importance for the timely identification of existing health problems and prevention of back pain.