Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

With many of us shifting to working from home, our lifestyles are becoming more and more sedentary. Long hours hunched over a laptop means that your lower back muscles can be affected, causing pain and sometimes, injury. There can be several underlying reasons for this, so keep reading to find out more.

What are the Common Causes of Lower Back Pain?

Your lower back houses the lumbar spine, which is a structure that is made of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles. This complex network of organs work together to support your body, provide strength and also flexibility. However, this also makes it more prone to injury or aches.

For many years now, lower back pain has been recognized as one of the most common causes of work disability and accounts for a large proportion of workers' compensation costs1. For many of us, back pain is one of the most common reasons for work loss and sick leaves, despite not entirely knowing why it happens. Here are some of the common causes of lower back pain:

1. Muscular Strains and Ligament Sprains

The muscles and ligaments on your back could stretch and tear, causing you to experience lower back pain. If you’re working from home, these are some examples that would cause strains and sprains:

●      Slouching over a laptop.

●      Sharp and sudden motions straining the lower back like a poor stretch.

●      Prolonged sitting on an improper work chair.  

●      Cramped workspace that forces poor posture.

When this happens, you’ll experience lower back pain as well as stiffness and muscle spasms. An injury like this is often overlooked. If you’ve experienced something like this recently, it’s best to see a doctor so you could be treated early before it’s too late.

2. Slipped Disc 

A slipped or herniated disc is an injury that happens when the soft center of a spinal disc breaks through the outer layer of the bone, irritating a nearby nerve. When this happens at a lumbar disc, you will feel a sharp and painful sensation on your lower back. If the slipped disc pinches your spinal nerves, you may also feel numbness on top of lower back pain. In severe cases, surgery might be needed to remove or repair the slipped disc.

3. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis refers to a bone disease that causes bones to be weak, due to natural deterioration or the inability of the body to make more bone cells to support it. In Malaysia, the main groups at risk for this condition are middle-aged to elderly people as well as postmenstrual women2.

If you’re a woman working from home, you might want to monitor any back pain and aches you are experiencing. Weakened and brittle bones when you’re a person at risk for osteoporosis could cause you to experience lower back pain, achy joints and lethargy due to bad posture or prolonged actions (like sitting). All of this could really affect your ability to work!

4. Non-Spinal Related Causes

Since lower back pain could indicate a number of different conditions, certain diseases or health conditions have back pain as symptoms. For people who menstruate, lower back pain is a common symptom of PMS, and it’s caused by hormonal changes that causes the uterine muscle to contract, affecting the back muscles too. Here are some other conditions that might be causing your lower back some discomfort:

●      Fibromyalgia, a long-term condition causing pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, and tendons.

●      Endometriosis where tissue similar to uterine tissue grows outside of your uterus, causing inflammation and pain.

●      Kidney and bladder problems like infections could also cause lower back pain.

Conclusion

Pain and discomfort on your lower back could mean a number of things. Most importantly, it's best to protect yourself on all ends. Supplement your health coverage with AIG’s personal accident insurance, a comprehensive plan that protects you in the event of injuries and accidents. Learn more about this plan here: https://www.aig.my/personal/personal-accident-insurance

Sources:
1 https://www.masp.org.my/index.cfm?menuid=23
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7014230/

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