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Lumbago - acute back pain
The colloquial term lumbago stands for sudden acute back pain (usually in the lumbar spine), which is often associated with considerable movement impairments. As a rule, the complaints disappear as suddenly as they occurred, which probably also contributed to the formation of the term. In medieval society, acute back pain was attributed to the arrow shot or spell of a magical being such as a witch.
A lumbago describes the medical symptoms of the so-called sciatic syndrome (sciatica) and the lumbar syndrome (lumboischialgia). In professional circles, lumbago is also known as lumbago.
While back pain or lower back pain can have numerous causes, the possible triggers for lumbago are rather limited. Compression (bruising) of the sciatic nerve is most often mentioned. Tension in the muscles, displacements of the vertebral bodies or intervertebral discs lead to narrowing of the nerve pathways and corresponding sciatica pain.
If the sciatic nerve is trapped, those affected often complain about accompanying symptoms such as buttock pain and pain in the back of the thigh.
Jerky rotations, excessive stress, cooling and accidental injuries may also lead to a crushing of the sciatic nerve and lumbago. If the nerve is pinched, this usually requires an automatic tensioning or tensioning of the back muscles.
Damage to the sciatic nerve caused by tumors that press on the surrounding tissue or infections with herpes zoster viruses (causative agents of chickenpox and shingles) can cause lumbago to occur. The so-called piriformis syndrome (compression of the sciatic nerve between the pelvic bone and the piriformis muscle) can also be considered as the cause of the symptoms.
Symptoms of lumbago
Typical of a lumbago is the massive, sudden onset, pulling pain in the lumbar spine (also lumbar spine). This is usually associated with a significant restriction of movement and can be accompanied by an inclination of the lower back and pelvis.
With rotating, stooping movements, the pain increases significantly. Raising from a bent position is often particularly painful for those affected. In general, the symptoms of a lumbago are often position-dependent. The lumbago is usually located between the lowest lumbar vertebra and the sacrum.
Many lumbago patients also experience considerable pain when sitting and lying down. They increasingly wake up at night and suffer from tiredness, cannot sit in the office for long and cannot really relax on the couch in the evening.
What to do with lumbago
Although those affected are massively restricted in everyday life by a lumbago, luckily the complaints usually go away as suddenly as they came. However, this is not always the case.
If the pain persists for a long time, radiates to other parts of the body or is accompanied by feelings of numbness and problems with urination or bowel movements, a more detailed medical examination should urgently follow, since more serious illnesses may trigger the symptoms.
Muscle hardening in the area of the lumbar spine can often be felt during a lumbago. The description of the symptoms provides further information on the causes of the pain. A few simple exercises can also help narrow down the diagnosis. In the context of diagnosis, it is particularly important to rule out more serious diseases such as a herniated disc or even cancer as the cause of the symptoms. In cases of doubt, this is done with the help of imaging methods such as computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging.
In general, rest is recommended to those affected. You should take care of your back. Comprehensive treatment is not necessary with an ordinary lumbago, since the symptoms usually disappear on their own after a few days. However, various measures can help alleviate the symptoms. This is particularly advisable for patients who, due to the pain, take a protective posture, which in turn can lead to further impairments.First aid for lumbago: put your legs up!
- Lie on your back
- The legs are bent at a 90-degree angle and placed on a stool or chair
- Try to breathe out of your stomach, i.e. using the diaphragm
- Stay in this position for 15 minutes to relieve the spine and especially the intervertebral discs
Muscle relaxing, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications are often used in conventional medicine to enable lumbago patients to have a largely symptom-free everyday life. Since heat is said to have a relaxing effect on the muscles, warm compresses, hot water bottles, warming ointments and the use of red light are also used in the treatment.
Physiotherapy and massages are further options for lumbago therapy. Rolfing and osteopathy offer special approaches to manual treatment. Chiropractic also relies on manual lumbago treatment. Other treatment options are acupuncture and acupressure.
If the lumbago is based on more serious illnesses, only one operation can help despite the multitude of treatment options. For example, a herniated disc can usually be successfully treated using conventional methods, but some people still require surgery to this day.
If the lumbago is not caused by serious illnesses, it usually disappears on its own after a few days, so the question arises to what extent the treatment options mentioned can have any effect. The lumbago has often disappeared before an appointment with a specialist becomes available. However, the means mentioned for external use can also be used at home immediately after the symptoms have started.
Lumbago and naturopathy
For external use, envelopes with diluted arnica tincture and oils with aconite (aconite) or St. John's wort as well as Swedish bitter and ointments containing bee venom or cayenne pepper are suitable. The extracts of nettles, devil's claw and willow bark, the "natural aspirin", are also said to have a promising effect. According to the naturopathic treatment approach, a tea based on the plants mentioned can also help to alleviate the symptoms.
Warming applications, e.g. Recommended as red light radiation or fango pack. Medicinal full baths are particularly effective when a hay flower extract is added to the water (see also application for sciatica pain).Soothing hay flower bath
- Put on 500 grams of hay flowers with about two liters of cold water
- Bring the mixture to a slow boil
- Let stand for 30 minutes, then strain
- Put the brew in the warm bath water (approx. 38 degrees)
- Soak in it for about 20 minutes and then keep your bed calm
Warm stone massages (hot stone), neural therapy, body and ear acupuncture as well as classic diversion procedures such as cupping and Baunscheidt therapy can offer natural help for lumbago and low back pain. It is generally recommended that those affected sit as little as possible. Lying and walking and, if necessary, standing are preferred. A longer immobilization is to be assessed rather negatively, since this reduces the muscles.
In order to support the self-healing of the organism, you should temporarily switch to a low-salt and low-protein diet. With good tolerance, even raw food can boost healing. Nutritional therapy may be considered, which should not only help to balance the acid-base balance, but should generally strengthen the immune system.
Stone healing, homeopathy and the use of the Schüssler salts offer further naturopathic starting points for lumbago therapy. Known homeopathic remedies for complaints in the lumbar region are, for example, arnica, agaricus aconite, carboneum sulfuricum and hypericum.
In the course of mineral therapy with Schüßler salts, salts No. 4 and No. 7 are often used. (Tf, fp, nr;)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Federal Medical Association (BÄK), National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Working Group of Scientific Medical Societies (AWMF). National care guidelines for non-specific low back pain - long version, 2nd edition, version 1st, 2017, (accessed 06.09.2019), AWMF
- Jürgen Krämer, Joachim Grifka: Orthopedics, trauma surgery, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 9th edition, 2013
- Hans-Dieter Kempf: The New Back School, Springer Verlag, 2nd edition, 2014
- Dietmar Wottke: The great orthopedic back school, Springer Verlag, 1st edition, 2004
- Peter J. Moley: Lower back pain, MSD Manual, (accessed September 6, 2019), MSD
- Jan Hildebrandt, Michael Pfingsten: Back pain and lumbar spine, Urban & Fischer Verlag, Elsevier GmbH, 2nd edition, 2011
ICD codes for this disease: M54.5ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.