What Do We Mean By Lumbago With Sciatica?
Lumbago is medical name given to lower back pain. This pain varies in intensity and can range from very mild discomfort to excruciating pain which affect the ability of an individual to carry out activities of daily living or work related activities. Lumbago can be acute or chronic.1 The symptoms of acute form of Lumbago are sudden in onset and are significantly severe in intensity. The symptoms of chronic form of Lumbago are of more gradual onset and the symptoms range from mild to moderate.
Lumbago can have numerous causes and can affect any individual irrespective of age, although individuals above the age of 50 complain more of lumbago than the younger population. People who are involved with heavy lifting and moving of heavy items on a daily basis are more at risk for developing Lumbago.
While in some cases, the pain resolves on its own, there are cases where Lumbago is caused due to a bulged or a herniated disc which may cause persistent pain. Sciatica on the other hand can be called a symptom of Lumbago. This condition arises as a result of a compressed sciatic nerve. This compression is most commonly as a result of a disc bulge or herniation which compresses the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic is one of the longest nerves in the body and originates from the lower back down the hips into the lower extremities. When the sciatic nerve gets compressed the affected individual tends to get symptoms of numbness and tingling going down the lower extremities with pain in the groin at times. Thus, it is not uncommon for an individual with Lumbago to complain of symptoms consistent with Sciatica.
What Can Cause Lumbago With Sciatica?
As stated, Lumbago can have numerous causes ranging from ligament sprains/strains to repetitive stress injuries affecting the lumbar spine. A bad fall on the back may also result in an individual having Lumbago. However, the most common cause of Lumbago is a disc herniation or bulge. A disc herniation or a bulge occurs when the intervertebral disc of the lumbar spine gets out of its normal anatomical position and compresses the adjoining nerves causing symptoms consistent with Sciatica.2
Arthritis of the spine is also one of the causes for an individual to have Lumbago along with Sciatica. Lumbar spinal stenosis is yet another condition which may cause Lumbago with Sciatica. Spinal stenosis is a condition in which there is narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing in some cases is congenital while in other cases may be caused due to repetitive stress on the spine or spinal arthritis. A displacement of the vertebra which in medical terms is called as spondylolisthesis is yet another cause for Lumbago with Sciatica.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lumbago With Sciatica?
The primary presenting feature of Lumbago with Sciatica is low back pain with numbness and tingling going down to the lower extremities.3 The intensity of the back pain may vary and if the pain is severe it may make it difficult for the individual to carry out activities of daily living and may also be a reason for missed days at work. The pain is normally worsened by any attempts at straining the back like lifting or moving anything. However, in some cases the pain may wax and wane and it is when the pain is at its peak that the individual starts experiencing numbness and tingling in the lower extremities consistent with symptoms of Lumbago with Sciatica.
How Is Lumbago With Sciatica Diagnosed?
The symptoms of Lumbago is quite common hence it is common for an individual to ignore the pain and carry on with activities by just popping an over the counter pain pill. However, when Lumbago and Sciatica appear together is when the individual needs to get checked by a physician to identify a probable cause for the symptoms, especially if the pain radiates down the extremities along with numbness and tingling.
In order to identify a cause, the physician will take a detailed history pertaining to any repetitive activities that the patient may have been doing recently which may be causing the symptoms. The physician may also ask the patient to perform certain activities like bending and getting back up to see if there is any reproduction of pain. Reflexes of the lower extremities may also be checked.
Once Lumbago with Sciatica is suspected, then imaging studies in the form of x-ray or advanced imaging in the form of an MRI or a CT scan may be ordered to identify the cause of the pain and confirm the diagnosis of Lumbago with Sciatica.3
How Is Lumbago With Sciatica Treated?
The best way to treat lumbago is to stay away from activities that may aggravate the condition. Bed rest is of utmost importance to calm down the symptoms. In the interim, the patient may take an antiinflammatory of choice or a pain killer to help with the symptoms. Ice alternating with heat may also be applied on the affected area for 15-20 minutes two to three times a day to calm down the pain. The patient will be allowed light physical activity once the symptoms have calmed down.
Spine specific exercises may be given to the patient to strengthen the spine and improve the flexibility so that the patient can return to normal activities at the earliest possible time. Physical therapy is of vital importance here since it is the physical therapist that will formulate the best exercise regimen based on the age and health status of the patient that will give the best chance to the patient to return back to normal routine at the earliest possible time after dealing with Lumbago with Sciatica.(2)
In some cases, a corset or a belt may be given to the patient to immobilize the spine to allow the spine to heal. This is also a good option provided that the patient does not wear it for too long a period of time so as to not make the spine stiff which will require much more intense physical therapy and prolong the time that it will take for the patient to get back to normal work after Lumbago and Sciatica.
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