HEALTH MATTERS: LOWER BACK PAIN, APRIL 19, 2017

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Dr. Rick Streiffer with the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences said most people experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Most times, it’s treatable without a doctor’s intervention — heat, over-the-counter medications and rest go a long way to helping a hurting back.

“It is one of the most common reasons that people come in to see their family physician,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson, also with UA’s community health sciences college.

A big contributor to lower back pain? Being overweight and physically inactive.

“We know that just walking and upright exercise will strengthen up the muscles around the core and help prevent low back pain,” Robinson said.

But there’s a fine line between getting enough exercise and straining too hard. Anyone with a job requirement lots of back movement is prone to issues, too.

“People that have to use their back a lot, bending or twisting, will end up having more problems later on in life just from nature’s own degenerations of the tissues around there and the discs around there,” Robinson said.

Treatment most often comes via physical therapy or medicines like muscle relaxers. Surgery is always the last resort, Robinson said.

Sometimes, though, lower back problems are signs of something much more serious, like cancer.

If you have lower back pain along with fever or chills, incontinence, unexplained weight loss, leg weakness or severe, continuous abdominal pain, see a doctor immediately, Robinson said.

Lower back pain sufferers are often helped by strengthening their core, Robinson said. One of the best ways to do that? Pilates.

Being aware of the caution signs is important, but prevention is the most important thing, Robinson said.

For more information about low back pain and what you can do to treat it, visit the National Institutes of Health.

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