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Q: What can I do to reduce lower back pain?

Lower back pain is very common, and there are many potential causes. Most types of lower back pain can get better with rest and treatment at home, while others need medical attention.

In some cases, lower back pain is caused by a sprain or muscle strain. An injury or overuse can pull or tear the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back, causing tenderness and spasms. Other causes of lower back pain include injuries to the spine, like a herniated or ruptured disc.

There are many other potential causes of lower back pain, like sciatica, scoliosis, infection, degenerative disc disease, and kidney stones.

Although most lower back pain gets better on its own, you should see a doctor if the pain does not get better over time, if the pain is severe or getting worse, or if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, like numbness or tingling in your legs. In some cases, lower back pain can be a sign of a serious problem. If lower back pain is accompanied by difficulty walking or moving your legs, loss of sensation in your legs, a loss of bladder or bowel function, or if the pain is very severe, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Usually minor injuries can be treated yourself with ice and rest. And if that doesn’t work, the good news is most people will get better with conservative treatments such as physical therapy.

And finally, for those who try extensive conservative treatments and they do not help reduce or eliminate back pain, it is not the end of the world. Effective newer minimally invasive techniques make recovery from back surgeries much faster.
You can help avoid lower back pain by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, stretching, and practicing good posture.

Many in our community are not aware that our island’s Neurosurgery program is one of the best in the world, with patients traveling from across the US to have back surgery here on Maui. Some of the techniques and procedures now available on Maui are available in very few medical facilities across the nation, with even fewer in Hawaii. For more information on what options are available to you on Maui, call Maui Brain and Spine at (844) 394-4774 or email aloha@mauibrainandspine.com.

Christopher Taleghani, MD
Neurosurgeon