One of the most common problems seen in a primary care medical practice is low back pain. It accounts for more discomfort, lost work and productivity, and frustration for many patients than any other malady. Some think it is the price we, as humans, pay for walking upright. The lower back is a complex structure made of bone, muscles, connective tissue and nerves that, along with our legs, hold us erect, allow us to bend, run, twist, catch a football, or just lay down and rest. However, once a problem arises, the complexity of its structure makes pain in the lower back difficult to diagnose and treat. The lower back consists of a spinal column from the lumbar region of the mid-back down to the tail bone or coccyx. The spinal column consists of 5 lumbar vertebrae which are cylindrical bony structures with a ring like component behind the cylinder also made of bone. In between the vertebrae are disc shaped cushions filled with a gelatinous central core known as the nucleus pulposis
Many would argue that back pain is inevitable and for some it becomes a sudden reality. Bending over to pick up a piece of paper, moving furniture, or reaching for something in the car's back seat; one of these scenarios may sound familiar to you. At home or at work, you need to know what to do when a sudden attack of back pain occurs. Fortunately, most back pain will get better naturally. But in order to improve your chances of recovery and to save yourself a trip to your doctor's office, you need to learn some first aid for back pain.
Those of you familiar with life-saving first aid remember the ABC's (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation). Let's apply the ABC's to your back; "A" for arrest the offending activity, "B" for balance the pressure, "C" for control the inflammation. With the ABC's for sudden back pain, you can quickly recover from a sudden back pain attack.
Let's go back to the scenarios: bending, lifting, and twisting (the BLT's). All of these activiti...
Spondylolisthesis (spaun-di-lo-lie-thee-sis) is a mouthful and is a common cause of low back pain (although it can exist anywhere in the spine, the lumbar spine is the most common area affected). The spinal column is a series of building blocks called vertebral bodies stacked on top of one another. Sometimes these blocks do not line up perfectly. This slight separation in the spinal column is called a spondylolisthesis .
"Doc says I have a spondy-something-or-other. Don't ask me what it is; all I know is that it hurts". Steve tries to explain his low back condition to his friend. But, he finds that he cannot explain what he does not understand. Steve has had back pain for a number of years. Every year the pain gets worse and has now become constant. His doctor sent him for x-rays recently. The x-rays showed a spondylolisthesis with disc degeneration at L5/S1. Steve could not understand his doctor's explanation of the condition. So, now he has pain and has confusion.
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