Definition: Lumbago or Low Back Pain

Lumbago or Low Back Pain

Lumbago refers to both mild and severe low back pain which causes discomfort in the area of the torso between the top of the legs and the base of the ribs. This is often associated with an over-arched lower back, Lordosis.

Sometimes lumbago is related to a specific condition such as an intervertebral disc prolapse, scoliosis or strained ligaments, but in most cases there is no obvious medical cause to be found. People can experience acute back pain which arrives suddenly, as the result of an accident or, for instance, from making a movement such as lifting twisting or bending in a way that compresses and sometimes mis-aligns the spine and leads to a slipped disc. If there is also numbness, weakness and tingling in the legs or lower back, it is essential that a doctor is consulted to diagnose the condition, as there may be some nerve damage that needs attending to.

Lumbago can also develop slowly as a result of habitual mis-use and can, without changes being made to the way the person uses their back, develop into chronic back pain. An Alexander Teacher can help someone with lumbago to recognise and understand their habits of mis-use which have contributed to, or created, the conditions for back pain and stiffness to develop. Mis-use comes in many forms and often the muscles and ligaments in the lower back become permanently contracted and painful - some people have poor posture and muscle tone, others may react to stress by continually tensing their back muscles and many people strain their backs by lifting heavy objects without due care and attention.

It is possible, through Alexander Lessons, for people to be taught how to inhibit and let go of habits that cause problems, then they can learn to improve the way they use their bodies and direct their activities. This can help people free their muscles from chronic tension, so they are often able to reduce or eliminate back pain entirely. Lessons can also help those who are recovering from an acute condition and give people a technique they can use to help prevent a recurrence of the lumbago.

The lying down procedure, as taught in the Alexander Technique, is a particularly useful tool to use in order to help the lumbar region to free up, so that contracted muscles can release painful tension and gradually lengthen out again.

The results of the ATEAM Research Study published in BMJ Online,19 August 2008, show that learning and applying the Alexander Technique significantly reduces low back pain and improves the quality of life, with the effects still eveident a year later. The Conclusions were that 'One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain. Six lessons followed by exercise prescription were nearly as effective as 24 lessons'.

Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain BMJ 2008;337:a884

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