Mechanical Low Back Pain

Copyright 2008 Spine Care Hong Kong



By most estimates low back pain affects 80-85% of the population some time in their lives. At any given time around 20-25% of the population is suffering from this problem.

Mechanical or simple low back pain accounts for 95% of patients who have an acute episode of back pain. It is typically a self limiting problem with 80-90% of sufferers recovering in about 6 weeks. Over 50% of patients presenting to a clinic with low back pain will be able to return to work within the week.

Often the exact cause for this type of back pain cannot be specified but it is commonly thought to arise from overstretching a muscle or ligament deep in the back or possibly over stretching of fact joint capsules or even some minor intervertebral disc injury. Whatever the cause it is usually self limiting and the affected part will recover given adequate time.

In approximately 5% of cases patients may present with back pain that radiates to the leg, this is usually suggestive of slightly more serious pathology that has irritated a spinal nerve. Again in the majority of cases the symptoms will ease but in around 20% the symptoms may persist and may be indicative of a prolapsed intervertebral disc with sciatica.

Most forms of simple back pain will respond to gentle exercise, anti inflammatory medications physiotherapy and time.