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Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain - What it is

Low back pain is a common condition and affects up to 80% of the Singaporean adult population.

It may result due to weakened or overstretched muscles, joints and ligaments.

Other causes include:

  • Slipped disc possibly from a sports injury (Figure 1)
  • Degenerative diseases affecting the spine
  • Fracture (Figure 2)
  • Infection (Figure 3)
  • Tumour in the spine (Figure 4)

Figure 1 Slipped disc (Left) Figure 2 Spine fracture (Right)

Figure 3 Spine infection (Left) Figure 4 Tumour in the spine (Right)

Low Back Pain - Symptoms

​In severe cases, you may have the following symptoms. Seek medical help early.

  • Pain that does not go away despite enough rest
  • Severe pain at a spot
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to control bladder or bowels
  • History of cancer

Low Back Pain - How to prevent?

Low back pain can be prevented and managed through lifestyle modications:

  • Have a good posture
  • Avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Lift properly and avoid bending at the waist
  • Change your workspace to reduce strain on the back
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen and increase the flexibility of back muscles. e.g. swimming, brisk walking,
    cycling
  • Sleep on a firm mattress

Low Back Pain - Causes and Risk Factors

  • Excess body weight increasing strain on the lower back
  • Lack of exercise resulting in weak back muscles to support the spine
  • Frequent heavy lifting using the wrong posture

Low Back Pain - Diagnosis

Low back pain can be diagnosed through a clinical examination. Blood tests, x-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scans may also be ordered.

Low Back Pain - Treatments

  • Rest and restrict activities until well
  • Take pain medications as advised
  • Exercise at least twice a day to strengthen the back, stomach and hip muscles
  • Hot or cold compression to temporarily relieve pain
  • Surgery is only recommended when there is:
    • Inability to control bladder or bowels
    • Numbness and weakness in the lower limbs
    • Pain that does not go away despite treatment

Low Back Pain - Preparing for surgery

Low Back Pain - Post-surgery care

Low Back Pain - Other Information

​Download the Low Back Pain brochure

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth