Lumbago is a general term used to describe pain in the lumbar region, or lower back. It is defined as a mild to severe pain or discomfort in the area of the lower back. Ranging in severity from acute (i.e. sudden and severe) to chronic (if it has lasted for more than three months) lumbago can occur in any age group, but is common among younger people who engage in hard physical work and also among people of retirement age.


If you are suffering from lumbago, some or all of the following symptoms may be present:

  • Mild to severe pain across the lower part of the back which sometimes travels into the buttocks, the groin area or down into the back of the thigh. This pain is usually aggravated by movement.
  • A stiff neck, which is caused by the muscles surrounding the spine going into spasm.
  • There may be a change in posture (e.g. leaning to one side) due to the severe pain and spasms in the lower back.
  • There may sometimes be a tingling sensation or a feeling of numbness in the back, buttocks or down along one or both legs.



Identifying the exact cause of lumbago is very difficult. It can be caused by a variety of conditions such as a slipped disc, scoliosis (deformation of the natural curvature of the spine), osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) or, more rarely, by tumours or infection in the spinal area. It is usually only possible to pinpoint the exact cause of lumbago in about 30% of cases. The majority of those where another cause is not found are believed to be due to muscle sprain.


The main warning signs to look out for, and which warrant urgent investigation:

  • A sudden inability to control bladder or bowel movements.
  • A feeling of numbness or tingling in the area of the lower back, buttocks or legs.
  • A dull, aching pain in the lower back which is accompanied by reduced strength or muscle bulk in one or both legs.

In the majority of cases, your PHYSIOTHERAPIST will be able to diagnose the problem on the basis of the information supplied by you, the patient. It is seldom necessary to take X-rays, scans  unless your PHYSIOTHERAPIST feels there is a more serious underlying cause for the pain.


In general, the first steps in the treatment of uncomplicated low back pain include a few days of rest and anti-inflammatory medications. In the past patients would be placed at prolonged bed rest. Now, this seems not to be effective and may even be harmful. The generally accepted number of days recommended is two to four. The best position is the most comfortable for the patient. Usually this is either on the side with the knees bent or on the back with the knees bent, perhaps using a pillow for support. An ice or cold pack applied to the back for 20 minutes three to four times a day may be helpful. Medication in the form of an anti-inflammatory such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, celebrex or vioxx may be taken. As these medications have side effects, patients should carefully read the package material or consult their doctor if taking any medications for longer than a few days. Braces or corsets are of little value and in the long term may cause a loss of muscle tone. If symptoms improve then a gradual resumption of normal activity follows.

Other recommended treatments might include a short course of oral steroid medication, stronger pain medication, muscle relaxant medication, possibly steroids injected into the epidural (outside the covering of the nervous system) space, the use of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS unit), a referral for a short course of chiropractic treatment or acupuncture. Depending on the particular situation, a short (three to four week) course of physical therapy may be prescribed


At Physioline, all the members of the rehabilitation team work together so as to provide proper care and the therapy in order to:

  • Pain relief
  • Postural advices
  • Proper lifting techniques
  • Back strengthening exercises
  • Core stabilization
  • Advice for back support

Visit Physioline for the Consultation and treatment