What is Lumbago?
Lumbago can be a very debilitating back pain disorder for many patients. Fortunately, there are chiropractic and massage alternatives available to possibly, in some cases, cause traditional medical treatment options to be unnecessary.
The meaning of lumbago is the same as that of lower back pain. There are many causes and types of lumbago. Depending on each patient’s version of the condition, pain may come and go, fluctuating depending on the day and strain caused to the area. It can worsen with certain activities, and it can be chronic. Lumbago may also be distributed in different ways: it can be localized in certain parts of the back or it can radiate from its source to elsewhere along the back or other parts of the body. Sometimes an injury or accident can be the cause of the low back pain. Patients may not even necessarily display or feel symptoms at first, such as with the case of a herniated disk. In this case, the patient might not even realize their own injury for some time.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Lumbago can involve soft tissues, the bones of the spine, or vertebrae, facet joints, disk degeneration, and nerves. Because of this, lumbago can be difficult to diagnose. At times, there could be “red flags”, such as leg weakness, numbness, fever, chills, weight loss, and bladder/bowel control issues.1 80% of people may develop some form or another of lumbago in their lives. The experience can range from an acute flare-up to a chronic (over 12 weeks) duration.
When it is diagnosed, the pain could be defined as being mechanical, non-mechanical, or referred pain. Mechanical pain involves sprain and strain, and referred pain can be a symptom of sciatica, for example. It is important in the diagnostic period to differentiate lower back pain from such conditions as radiculopathy and other serious problems that occur in the spine, such as a tumor, fracture, or infection.2 Typical symptoms of lumbago can include back pain, spasm, radiating pain, or tingling. Common causes of these symptoms include herniation, osteoarthritis or spondylosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and tumor.3
Medical Treatments for Lumbago
Typical medical treatment options for lumbago pain management may involve the patient taking certain types of medication, such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs, or opioids. Doctors may utilize the straight leg raise test to diagnose herniation, as well as facet joint blocks and nerve blocks for spinal pain. In some cases, epidural transforaminal injections and injections into the sacroiliac joint are used as a means of diagnostic tests. In patients where the aforementioned “red flags” are cause for concern, some doctors may employ MRI scans. If pain medications and structured exercises are not proving to be helpful, some patients may even undergo surgery in an attempt to resolve the issue, which might include such invasive procedures as spinal fusion.4
The problem with medications is that they can have serious side effects which could themselves outweigh possible pros of taking medication, especially over prolonged use. Surgery also carries its own set of risks, such as failing to effectively treat the problem or leave the patient in a worsened physical condition from where we started. While these are bad scenarios that do not always occur, patients should attempt to find alternative treatment options before turning to medications and surgery.
Chiropractic and Massage Alternatives
There are other alternative options to just trying to achieve pain management for lumbago. Practitioners of chiropractic care can use massage, electrical stimulation (TENS), and ultrasound, as well as stretching and exercises, to help patients work through their lower back pain.5 Chiropractors are experts in the field of spinal manipulation and adjustment. They can help patients both treat their current conditions and help them to prevent future recurrences of back pain. There are many available treatment options including physiotherapy, heat and cold, movement techniques, and directed exercises.
Some chiropractic offices employ the help of massage therapists. Massage can be another form of treatment for lumbago. It can be especially helpful for patients who have difficulty relaxing tense muscles. Stress reduction is a benefit of massage. There are many different massage techniques that can be tailored to the patient.6
Beyond services provided by a professional massage therapist, patients could try self-massage at home, in between visits to the healthcare practitioners. Massage and exercises that the patient tries at home should be discussed with the chiropractor and massage therapist in order to confirm that the patient is in a physical state that is optimal for additional self-treatment. Putting pressure on the mid-lower back could relieve tension. A massage ball is also useful in kneading trigger points in muscles. Massage therapists use similar techniques for a longer, more focused duration than the few minutes one performing self-massage is likely to accomplish. Massage is helpful in relieving pain in that it improves the circulation of blood, aids in the recovery from muscle soreness, relaxes muscles, improves range-of-motion, and increases endorphin levels to help manage chronic pain.7
Find out more about lower back pain and treatment options.