Lumbago is the term used to describe general lower back pain. The exact cause of the lumbago/back pain is often unknown.

What is lumbago?

Lumbago is the term used to describe general lower back pain. The exact cause of the lumbago/back pain is often unknown. The back pain can come on suddenly after lifting things, or gradually through overuse (see weak back) such as repetitive movements when decorating, gardening etc, or even for no obvious reason.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower back which does not radiate down the legs (if the pain radiates into the buttock and legs see Sciatica or Piriformis syndrome).
  • Pain may be constant and achey (often associated with muscle spasm), or may be sharper on certain movements/positions (this indicates a more acute injury to a specific structure).
  • Stiffness in the back especially in the mornings.

Causes of lumbago:

Lumbago, or lower back pain can be caused by numerous things which vary considerably, depending on how the pain started.

Sudden onset

Gradual onset:

  • Postural problems such as lordosis and scoliosis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Sacroiliac joint pain
  • Muscular trigger points or myofascial pain in the buttocks or the paravertebral muscles
  • A general weakness in the back and core muscles
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Spinal canal stenosis
  • Poor workstation set-up or poor driving position

Treatment of lower back pain:

What can you do about lower back pain?

  • Rest (in bed if it is really severe). The psoas position is often the most comfortable position (laying on the back with the knees bent up).
  • In gradual onset cases applying warmth such as a warm bath or a hot water bottle may help.
  • In sudden onset cases where there may be tissue damage, cold therapy may be better for the first 2-3 days.
  • See a sports injury specialist or doctor who can make an accurate diagnosis of the problem.

What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?

  • Determine the cause and advise you on posture and exercises.
  • Use Ultrasound, TENS or Interferential treatment.
  • Use sports massage techniques.
  • Prescribe a full rehabilitation and strengthening programme.
  • Prescribe anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, or muscle relaxing medication.
  • Apply traction or joint manipulation techniques.

Lumbago often goes only to come back again later. If this happens you should consider a full rehabilitation and back education programme.

Related articles:


Lordosis or hyperlordosis is an exaggerated lumbar curve in the spine. To put it another way, the lower back curves inwards more than it would naturally do.

Muscle Strains in Lower Back

Muscle strains in the lower back can occur for a number of reasons and may be a weak point waiting to happen. It is very important that muscle strains are treated properly as imbalances in the back...

Transverse Process Fracture

A transverse process is a bony protrusion from the back of a vertebrae bone in the spine. There is one on each side of every vertebrae in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

Bruised Kidney

A bruised kidney (or kidney contusion) occurs following a direct impact on the lower back area. This is most commonly from car accidents, although may also result from a fall or a physical attack,...