What is it?

The prevention of lumbago

Complementary approaches

Acute lumbago, another name for lumbago, refers to a pain localized in the lower back, commonly known as "lumbago", caused by an unfortunate movement. This condition is muscular and has nothing to do with the kidneys. There are two types of low back pain: chronic low back pain (long and difficult to treat) and acute low back pain (transient), also called lumbago. Lumbago is usually mild, but often painful. In most cases, it can be treated with rest and medication.

What is a lumbago?

What causes lumbago?

Lumbago is most often caused by damage to the intervertebral discs, the shock absorbers located between the vertebrae that age with age. This disc damage causes irritation or a slight compression of a nerve.  This phenomenon, already painful by itself, triggers a strong muscular contraction in reaction to this, in order to block the lumbar region, and a lumbago appears.


The lumbago can appear in particular after :

  • a false movement, sometimes harmless;
  • an abrupt effort;
  • carrying a heavy load. It is in the latter case that lumbago occurs most frequently;
  • often when a gesture is not made in a good posture.

What are the risk factors for lumbago?

People who have one or more of the following risk factors are more likely to be affected by a lumbago :

  • Poor postural hygiene, i.e. lack of knowledge of the gestures that protect the back,
  • Overweight
  • A sedentary lifestyle,
  • Demanding physical work (heavy loads, exposure to vibrations),
  • A pregnancy that results in a greater arching of the back,
  • Insufficient abdominal or back muscles
  • Age,
  • Stress,
  • Shift or repetitive work,
  • Sports or professional activities that increase the risk of false movements,
  • History of back trauma, scoliosis, spinal deformities.
  • All these risk factors favour the transition to chronic lumbago.

How to recognize lumbago?

Lumbago is a sudden and intense pain in the lower back, in the lumbar region, that occurs during an effort, sometimes even though it is minimal. Sometimes the pain can spread to the upper buttocks and extend to one or both thighs. The pain is similar to that felt in cases of sciatica. If the pain goes beyond the knee, it is called sciatica or low back pain.

What to do in case of lumbago?

The severity of a lumbago is not proportional to the pain. While it is true that the pain is intense and appears suddenly, it disappears spontaneously in 90% of cases in 6 to 8 weeks, although some of it, almost half, disappears in 48 hours; 10% become chronic low back pain.

The basic treatment is based on :

- Moderation of movements, guided by pain. Rest is advised, but not bed rest, as it leads to muscle wasting, a factor that slows down healing and recurrence. It is therefore preferable to move around as much as possible, avoiding gestures likely to reawaken the pain. That said, for the first 24 to 48 hours it is possible to stay in bed if the pain is very intense. This bed rest should not last longer.

- Administration of paracetamol or acetaminophen. The latter is used for its analgesic properties: it reduces pain. The recommended dose of paracetamol varies between 500 mg and 1 g depending on the intensity of the pain, at a frequency of 3 or 4 times a day. It is preferable to respect a minimum interval of 4 hours between each dose.

- Anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin can be used, but they are not much more effective than paracetamol (acetaminophen), and have significantly more side effects.

- Osteopathy is an aid to reduce the duration of the attack. It is recommended to consult a well-trained osteopath in an osteopathic school, preferably a physiotherapist or doctor. The ANSES (national health safety agency) recognizes the short-term interest of osteopathy in acute low back pain.

If the sudden pain in the lower back is accompanied by sudden incontinence or the inability to urinate, insensitivity or anaesthesia in the legs, fever, burning when urinating, chills, you should immediately call a doctor in emergency and stay in bed.

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