Low back pain (LBP) is one of the leading causes of disability and consistently ranks as one of the top reasons for visiting a medical professional.
It has been estimated the LBP affects 60% to 80% of the general population at some point during their lifetime, and 20% to 30% suffer from this disorder at any given time.
Attaching a specific diagnosis to LBP is difficult and elusive, because there often is no identifiable source of the pain or injury, and it should not be assumed that all LBP is musculoskeletal in nature.
Back pain can be experienced secondary to a wide variety of other medical conditions that are not musculoskeletal in nature (e.g., abdominal aneurysm, kidney infection, cancer). These should be ruled out by an appropriate medical professional.
Some of the causes of LBP include intervertebral disc herniation, facet joint inflammation, muscular strains, and ligamentous sprains.
Injury to these structures can be traumatic, caused by events such as inappropriately lifting or falling, or degenerative, caused by a de-conditioned lumbar spine, poor posture, prolonged mechanical loading, or poor body mechanics during work, home, or sports activities.
A common cause of lumbar disc herniation is forceful flexion and rotation of the lumbar spine.
A protruded lumbar disc that encroaches on the lumbar nerve roots may result in lower extremity sensory and motor problems such as pain, numbness, and muscular weakness and atrophy.
Bowel and bladder dysfunction are serious conditions that can result from herniated lumbar discs and require immediate medical treatment.
Restorative exercise designed to improve the structural integrity of the lower trunk is commonly used for the treatment of LBP, and generally, the efficacy of this approach has been supported.
Many types of exercises, including aerobic, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and core stability, are used.
The fitness professional should be particularly well versed in low back exercise techniques, incorporating those needed when appropriate.