‘Ow, my back hurts!’ How many of us wish we never had to utter those words again? We look at the potential causes.

Should you See a Doctor?

Before you try any home remedies or exercises, see a doctor to find out whether you have a common type of lower back pain or a medical problem that requires specialist treatment. A good physiotherapist or chiropractor can help to stop the back spasm by applying traction and gentle manipulation.

Also see your doctor if pain comes on suddenly, radiates down your leg to your knee or foot, or if it's accompanied by fever, stomach cramps, chest pain or laboured breathing. Doctors often view back pain as a wake-up call, and may recommend an exercise program to stabilise and strengthen the spine to help prevent future problems.

 

Sciatica

The roots of the sciatic nerve lie near the base of your spine. They pass through a tunnel in your pelvis called the sciatic notch, then come together like separate lanes merging into highways–the 2 large sciatic nerves that lead all the way down your legs. When the sciatic roots are pinched–by pressure from a herniated disc, for instance–sensations of pain, tingling or numbness may extend all the way from your buttocks to your legs, feet and toes.

About half the people who have sciatica achieve good results from most of the treatments recommended for lower back pain. If you have sciatica and don't get relief with these treatments, speak to your doctor. And contact your doctor straight away if your foot is dragging, if you stumble when you walk or if you start to have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels. You may need urgent treatment in hospital and possibly surgery.

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