What is Lumbago?

General description/overview

Lumbago is pain in the lower back that is caused by damage to a muscle or ligament. Lower back pain is very common; in fact, it is the second most common ailment that causes U.S. residents to miss work, after respiratory illnesses.

You may experience lumbago due to lifting something incorrectly, sitting with poor posture for a long period of time, or failing to exercise regularly. Other causes include arthritis, an injury that causes a fracture, or a slipped or ruptured disk.

Anyone can experience lumbago, at any age. Typically, younger patients will recover more quickly.

What are the Symptoms of Lumbago?

The mainand sometimes onlysymptom of lumbago is lower back pain. Some people have constant pain, while others only have pain in certain positions. Bending or twisting can cause the pain to increase. You may also have some stiffness associated with the lower back pain. Muscle spasms may occur.

In more severe cases, depending on the cause of the pain, patients experience pain that continues from the back into the hips and legs. This can occur only during certain movements or be continual.

How is Lumbago Treated?

Most cases of lumbago resolve with minimal treatment in 2 to 4 weeks. Bed rest and alternating warm and cold packs can help the muscles recover.

Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant or a pain reliever; ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs may be particularly helpful. Physical therapy can also help.

In very rare cases, lumbago may require surgery to repair a damaged ligament or if the cause of the pain is a damaged spinal disk.

Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017