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An overview of Low Back Pain when sitting or standing


Low back pain is a common ailment in Hong Kong. Medical studies show that around 80% of adults experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime. However, certain groups of individuals, such as those who exert a lot of force on the low back and those who sit all day long at work as well as athletes, are prone to lower back injuries.


The low back is the most frequently injured area of the spine


The low back consists of the lumbar vertebral bodies, as well as the ligaments and muscles surrounding it. The motion in the low back is divided between five motion segments, although a disproportionate amount of the motion is in the lower segments (L3-L4 and L4-L5). Consequently, these two segments are the most likely to breakdown from wear and tear (e.g., osteoarthritis). The two lowest discs (L4-L5 and L5-S1) take the most strain and are the most likely to herniate. This can cause pain and possibly numbness that radiates through the leg and down to the foot (sciatica).


Muscle strain is a major cause


The most common cause of muscle strain is improper posture while seated, working or resting. As the bones, joints and related muscles become over-fatigued due to a lack of proper stretching and a shortage of nutrient supplies in the blood stream, they will experience pain. Other causes, such as trauma to the muscles and other soft tissues such as ligaments in the low back can also cause severe and debilitating pain. This could be caused by sprains, falls or direct impact.


Back pain may be acute or chronic


Acute pain lasts four to six weeks, but chronic pain is persistent and long-term. Most back pain results from excessive, strenuous or improper movement. The condition can be alleviated by a few days' rest, reduction of drastic physical activities, and appropriate exercises to mobilize the back and strengthen back muscles. 80% of people who suffer from it can recover within one month. Intervertebral disc displacement can cause low back pain. 80% of the people with this condition are between the ages of 20 and 40. Proper and regular exercise can alleviate the pain.


How to investigate and make diagnosis for Low Back Pain?


Doctors usually can diagnose the causes of low back pain based on patients' medical history and clinical physical test results. Sometimes, doctors may use X-rays, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT scans to evaluate disc and joint degeneration, spinal canal width and the status of the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots.


What are the treatments for Low Back Pain?


Treatments for low back pain include taking medicines, physical therapy, occupational therapy and surgery. Physical therapy includes electrical stimulation, heat application, lumbar spine traction, manual & manipulative therapy, acupuncture, posture correction and exercise therapy. These therapies can help muscles to relax, alleviate local pain so as to allow for later phase of active therapy.  

Surgery is recommended when symptoms persist or when there is severe nerve compression, spinal instability or deformity. Severe nerve compression can lead to muscle weakness, persistent numbness, loss of bowel or urinary bladder control.





*The above information is for reference only, please consult your doctor for detail.