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Lumbago (lumbago) • Symptoms, duration & therapy

A stinging pain that suddenly drives into the cross: a lumbago. The cause of a lumbago or a lumbalgia is usually an acute muscle tension because you have gotten up or dislocated. How to recognize a lumbago and what helps best.

The lumbago often makes it impossible to get up again. The back pain is massive and limits mobility.
© iStock.com/Staras

A lumbago usually hits you out of the blue. Often an unusual or jerky movement is enough and the pain is acute in the lower back. The doctors call this suffering or acute lumbalgia, which means something like "pain in the lumbar region".

In the worst case, you can hardly sit up with a lumbago because your back hurts so much. An extremely painful muscle tension is to blame for the acute restriction of movement. Lumbago primarily affects people under the age of 50.

Wrong lifting is often the cause of lumbago

The pain shoots in the back, especially in the case of incorrect loads or abrupt movements such as lifting, turning over, standing up or standing up – mostly in the area of ​​the lumbar spine and down to the lower costal arch. You literally "got up", as is often said colloquially. Sometimes the lumbago does not appear until a day after lifting or drafts. Often there is no specific reason for a lumbago.

expert tip

Professor Grönemeyer v2

© dpa picture alliance / Anke Waelischmiller / SVEN SIMON

"If the back could talk, it would reveal a lot. As a rule, he does not need permanent medication or surgery, but mindfulness and care. "

Professor Dietrich Grönemeyer

Because the pain is so severe, many sufferers believe that it must be a herniated disc (disc prolapse). However, this is rarely the case. Even if the low back pain in acute lumbar pain may be so great, in most cases there is no organ damage and there is no risk of permanent paralysis.

Because the cause of the sudden back pain is primarily that the back muscles tense and cramp. A lumbago is basically "only" a painful tension and cramping of the back muscles or a muscle strain. However, this can have further effects, for example on:

  • tendons – The muscle hardening pulls on the tendons and irritates them.

  • joints – the tendons pull on them and can move them from the correct position (blocking of the vertebral joints).

  • annoy – Hardened muscles and slightly displaced joints can narrow nerve channels. Lumbago often affects the sacrum with the sacroiliac joints and thus the sciatic nerve.

Often the lumbago has a history and does not come out of the blue. Lack of movement, monotonous and one-sided movements, stress and obesity weaken the back and make it susceptible to back pain. In contrast, a strong back with well-developed muscles is almost never affected by lumbar pain and muscular cramps.

The extremely rare causes include tumors or a vascular bulge (aneurysm) of the abdominal artery. In addition to the massive back pain, there are other symptoms, such as circulatory disorders and fever.

Symptoms of lumbago are usually clear

Particularly typical signs of lumbago:

  • straighten or lean forward is hardly possible.
  • The person concerned remains in one pain relieving posture,
  • Some patients can no longer turn or bend back properly Spine is blocked,
  • Sufferers describe the pain as stinging, hot or boring.
  • In addition, the pain in the buttocks, groin and legs radiate.

The severe pain in the lower back (lumbar pain) and the restricted movement cause most of those affected to go to the doctor – or in the worst case, to have him come. You should definitely seek medical advice if one of the following alarm signals or a combination of these also occurs:

  • paralysis in the legs
  • numbness and tingling of the legs
  • Legs hurt massively when walking
  • Problems with urination and bowel movements like incontinence

Lumbago or herniated disc?

At the beginning of the diagnosis there are questions about the type of complaint as well as when and how it occurred. The doctor then examines the patient manually (with his hands). He checks whether the joints are hooked, how far they can be moved and when pain and blockage occur.

In addition, the orthopedist scans the painful areas, checks the sensitivity and the reflexes. This is how he determines whether nerves are affected. If this manual examination is not sufficient for a diagnosis, the following examination techniques will help:

In this way, it can be determined whether there are complications, whether a herniated disc or problems with sciatica are the cause or whether nerve damage has occurred.

What to do with lumbago?

The most important goal with lumbago therapy: The patient must be reactivated as quickly as possible. This means becoming pain-free, in order to avoid gentle posture and to prevent further cramps through movement.

In the case of an uncomplicated lumbago, manipulation by restraining, i.e. chiropractic, is often a suitable treatment option in the beginning. The orthopedist or chiropractor uses pressure and counter pressure to bring the joint back into the correct position, releasing blockages and tension. If this succeeds, the patient is usually free of symptoms again immediately.

Best treatment for lumbago: pain medication, injection or home remedies?

The following therapies have proven their worth in lumbago:

  • Medicines in the acute phase of pain: Common substances are the pain relievers paracetamol, diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen. In addition, muscle-relaxing drugs (muscle relaxants) and anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone can be used.

  • Cortisone injection for low back pain: Pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone can also be given by the doctor as an injection. All medication should only be used after the doctor's advice and at short notice, for example to restore mobility.

  • Move and exercise therapy (initially physiotherapy, later back school): The physiotherapist / trainer shows the patient appropriate stretching exercises to loosen the back muscles and tendons. Strengthening exercises follow little by little to build up the deep muscles – because they support the spine and can prevent blockages.

  • The best home remedy is warmth: Hot water bottle, heat plasters, heating pads, mud packs, red light or a hot bath with relaxing additives classic home remedies for lumbago. They loosen the tissue and improve local blood circulation. However, perform heat therapy only in the acute phase of the pain.

    Warning: If you notice that the pain increases from heat, you should definitely inform your doctor.

  • Both Cell salts No. 7 (Magnesium phosphoricum) has proven itself as an acute treatment for pain and cramps. It also has a relaxing effect and can be used as "hot sieves" (dissolve tablets in hot water and drink in sips).

  • relaxation techniques such as autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson: These techniques do not help immediately, but they provide relaxation in the long term and thus prevent further tension.

Exercise is the best therapy

Bed rest, as was often ordered at Lumbago in the past, is viewed extremely critically in modern treatment concepts. The reason: By immobilizing the back pain can become chronic more easily. With gentle movement, such as going for a walk, the discomfort disappears faster, and another lumbago is prevented.

However, if it is a complicated lumbago, such as involving the intervertebral discs or due to a narrowing of the nerve canal, further examinations are necessary and the corresponding treatment is different.

Lumbago – first aid with exercises

You can do a lot yourself when a lumbago occurs. The following measures are suitable as first aid, but you may only carry them out if they do not exacerbate the pain and blockage:

  • back exercise step positioning

    Step storage to relieve the back

    © GU / Johannes Rodach

    step positioning: Lie on your back, position your lower legs on a stool, firm upholstery or rolled up blankets. The thighs should lie vertically directly on this support, the knees should be bent and the lower legs should lie horizontally on the pad at a right angle. This relaxes the spine, especially the lower area is relieved.

  • positioners: They are on the side. The lower leg is stretched out, the upper one is slightly angled over the other. If possible, the upper knee touches the floor. The lower back (lumbar vertebrae and sacroiliac joints) is stretched.

  • Take a warm shower: Many swear by the hot water jet for back pain. Shower the area in the back as warmly as possible where the blockage sits.

How long does a lumbago last?

The acute, severe pain from a lumbago usually lasts no longer than 48 hours. The symptoms then slowly subside in the following four days – if not, you should see a doctor.

A week after the lumbago has hit, the worst problems like pain and restricted movement have disappeared in most patients. However, it takes different lengths of time until the lumbago is completely gone. The patient's own initiative is also decisive for the duration of the lumbago. If you move again soon, you will usually be pain-free faster.

Preventing lumbago: These back tips help

Anyone who has experienced it never wants to be shot again. The following tips can help you to avoid relapse in the future:

  • Keep moving, preferably every day. Avoid the elevator, escalator and car as often as possible. Better go on foot. Above all that Climb stairs strengthens the back muscles – and trains your condition at the same time.

  • Exercise regularly Sports, Back-friendly sports include Nordic walking, cycling, hiking and hiking, backstroke and water aerobics.

  • Take a course for Wirbelsäulengymnastik in a sports club, adult education center or fitness studio. The deep back muscles are particularly strengthened, which surround and protect the spine like a support corset.

  • In a back school, learn how to behave back-friendly in everyday life – i.e. how to carry, lift, bend or stand up properly.

  • Do you wear Shoesthat do not constrict the foot. Please only wear high-heeled shoes for a few hours and do not walk in them for long.

  • Pay attention to the quality of your mattress, which must neither be too hard nor too soft. Under no circumstances should you wake up with back pain in the morning.

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