The most common cause of lower back pain is muscle strain associated with heavy physical work, lifting, bending and twisting. It is usually experiences as sudden, sharp, persistent, or dull pain.
It is always advisable to get a medical check-up if the pain persists for more than a few days following rest. A thorough examination will assess your medical history, posture, the range of spinal movement and possibly a neurological test to determine the state of your reflexes.
Some questions they may not ask in an examination.
Have you ever been asked at a treatment or examination if you know the location of you hips joints? Sounds a bit odd doesn't it! But in many cases of lower back pain it can be a tremendous help and once you can learn to move from the most appropriate places. The amount of stress on the lower back can be reduced dramatically once you move as nature intended.
Poor posture is recognised as a factor in lower back pain, but why do so many adults suffer from it - some studies estimate 80%! Modern life presents us with many pressures - work, finances and spending long hours sitting at desks or in cars. This sort of lifestyle for most adults leads to an increase in muscle tension resulting in the familiar neck, shoulder and back pain and other general aches and pains. Ultimately it will change your body dynamics and alter the way you move.
Habits you are probably unaware of will influence the way you move and your concept of how you body works. Due to the nature of habit it can be difficult changing them but it is not impossible. A course in re-education can help to correct your body concept and get you moving as nature intended again. Some exercises may help but they will not change your habits associated with standing, sitting and moving - these may well be the cause for your lower back pain. Yoga and tai chi can be very effective re-education methods and there are many recorded cases of how they help with back conditions.
In my view, both from a past back pain sufferer and now as a professional, one of the best methods to change your habits is The Alexander Technique. It is one of the few disciplines that recognises the role and nature of habit in lower back pain and many other general disorders. Until your concepts and habits relating to your movement changes, your condition will stay untouched.
Back pain, the driver and the mechanic
A man takes his car to a garage with a faulty gearbox. The mechanic identifies the fault and replaces a number of components. A few months later the man returns with the same problem, so again the mechanic replaces the suspect parts.
Not long afterwards the same car is towed into the garage after a breakdown. The mechanic assumes there must be a design fault with this model but cannot recall seeing many similar faults. If the design was suspect then everyone would have the same problem, therefore it must be something the driver is doing wrong. He replaces the gearbox and asks the driver if he could accompany him on a drive. The mechanic notices how poorly the man drives the car particularly when changing gear. He suggests to the driver that a few lessons might help to improve his habits. The driver follows this advice and eventually the problems with the gearbox cease.
He did not learn to drive like this. His bad habits developed gradually due to lack of attention to his driving whilst pre-occupied with other matters. He had never been a passenger to observe how other people drive. The mechanic could not identify the root of the problem by just looking at the car - he had to observe the driver and car in action to diagnose the cause.
We know that habits can be harmful to health. The end result of more obvious habits such as smoking and over-eating are easy to see. But what about the habits we do not know we have? Applying excessive effort to everything we do can be just as damaging. Your lower back pain may be due to your driving habits.