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What is lumbago and how can I treat it?

Lumbago is a common musculoskeletal condition that refers to a pain stemming from the lower back region. Typical symptoms include sharp and shooting pain, lower back stiffness, muscle tension, radiating pain in the buttocks/thighs, and restricted movement. Lumbago usually subsides within a couple of days. If the pain doesn’t get better or lasts longer than a week, it’s important to consult your doctor to establish the causes. The same applies if you suffer from numbness or weakness in your legs, or you experience bowel or bladder problems.

Helpful treatment options worth trying are:

  • Relieve pressure on the lower back muscles. To find a comfortable position for relief, lay flat on your back and elevate your feet on cushions or pillows. Or try belly breathing, which helps reduce tension and relax the body. Place your hands on your abdomen, inhale for 5 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat for 5-10 minutes daily.
  • Ice and heat. An ice pack, hot water bottle or heat patch can bring relief to the strained area and ease muscle spasms.
  • Pain relief medications. Over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may be helpful for short-term pain relief.
  • Gentle movement. Reduce your activity levels as needed in the first few days after injury, but plan to increase your activity as soon as the pain starts to subside. Prolonged rest can slow down and impair healing. Exercises that stretch and strengthen muscles will alleviate symptoms and help with regaining range of motion and functionality.

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