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Sure Signs You Have "Lumbago," Say Physicians

What to know about lumbago, according to doctors.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Back pain is a common condition that can be chronic and crippling. There's several types of back pain and lumbago is a general term to describe lower back pain symptoms and can be felt in the legs at times. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, "Low back pain is a common global problem.  The point prevalence of low back pain (LBP) in 2017 was estimated to be about 7.5% of the global population, or around 577.0 million people." Eat This, Not That! Health talked with Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Urgent Care Medical Director and Physician, Carbon Health, and Saint Mary's Hospital who explained everything to know about lumbago and signs that indicate you have it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Lower Back pain (Sudden/Severe)

Woman Having Backache While Sitting On Sofa

Dr. Curry-Winchell shares, "One moment you're making dinner, and the next you are unable to get up from the couch. The sudden onset of not being able to stand up straight or walk is a common first sign of lumbago. This can last for a few days, to several weeks, to months."


Leg Pain

woman hands holding and massage her calf, suffering from calf pain

Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "Leg pain can also be an initial sign of lower back pain due to referred pain from the shortening of the muscles and pinching of nerves located in the lower back. The duration can vary depending upon the level of nerve impingement."


Hip Pain

Woman with head and hip pain sitting on a couch at home.

Dr. Curry-Winchell  explains, "You may experience tightness, soreness, or pain in your hips secondary to the tightening of the muscles in the lower back. This can last for a few days, to several weeks or months." 


What Causes Lumbago?

Woman sitting on the bed in the bedroom.

"Lumbago is defined as pain in the lower back," says Dr. Curry-Winchell. "The pain can be caused by several things however commonly associated with participation in everyday activities like putting your clothes on, lifting your child or household chores such as mowing the lawn or loading the dishwasher. It's caused by the muscles in your back tightening as if they were under attack. This is the body's response to protecting your spine from getting injured. This tightening, also referred to as muscle shortening, is associated with the inability to sit, stand, or walk. When you try to sit down the muscle becomes short (tightened) causing immediate pain." 

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How Lumbago Can Affect Daily Life

Female massaging her back suffering from ache

Dr. Curry-Winchell emphasizes, "It can be debilitating. The muscles in the back help you stay active and allow small and big movements to occur. Everyone experiences back pain differently however, it is often associated with severe pain and impacts your ability to sit down or stand up. If you experience loss of control of your bowels, fever, or tingling/numbness this can be a medical emergency and it's important to seek out care as soon as possible."

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Why Diagnosing Lumbago is Difficult at Times

Man at doctor's office.

"Lumbago (lower back pain) can affect multiple areas such as your hips and legs which can make it difficult to identify the root cause of the pain," Dr. Curry-Winchell states. 

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How to Help Prevent Lumbago


two middle aged women doing yoga in modern studio

Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "Staying active by participating in low to moderate exercise, strength training, utilizing good body mechanics with movement or lifting (heavy or light) items, maintaining a healthy diet and weight can be helpful. The more opportunity your lower back muscles have with repetitive movement that incorporates good body mechanics, a balanced ratio of sitting to standing and implementing exercise that helps strengthen your core muscles will overall decrease your risks of experiencing lumbago pain." 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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