Lower Back Pain – Causes, Treatment & Prevention
If you suddenly experience pain in your lower back, your discomfort could range anywhere between an ache to an agonizing sensation that hinders your ability to conduct normal activities. This is a common problem, as nearly 80% of all adults will find themselves contending with lower back pain at some point during their lives.
If you are suffering from pain, then the knowledge that it is shared by so many others probably does not provide you with any relief from your discomfort. Instead, it is important for you to focus on what you can do to relieve your symptoms, how you can avoid making your situation worse, and when you should seek the assistance of a physician.
The lower back is located below your ribcage, which is also referred to as the Lumbar spine. Five vertebrae (L1-L5) support the weight of your upper body, in coordination with the ligaments and tendons that keep them attached to the spinal column.
Causes Of Lower Back Pain
Pain in the lumbar spine can often be challenging. However, that does not necessarily signal a serious issue, as there are a number of reasons why you might be contending with discomfort in this area of your back.
Many people who are dealing with lower back pain have experienced a strain to either the muscles or ligaments in this area. Heavy lifting or overstretching can cause both strains and sprains, which are also possible through extreme physical exertion, or a fall.
Muscle spasms can also occur in the aftermath of involvement in sports such as football or golf, along with a number of recreational activities. If your abdominal muscles are not particularly strong, this will further increase the chances of experiencing these spasms.
Arthritis can also impact the lower area of your back, as can bulging or ruptured discs. Osteoporosis can also create pain if your vertebrae eventually develop compression fractures or your bones become brittle.
Your risk of dealing with a lower back issue also increases if you do not exercise regularly, or are carrying excess body weight. Smoking can also be a factor, as can failing to use your legs when you are lifting. Anxiety and aging can also make it more likely that you will have issues in your lower back.
There are other potential causes that are less common but can be added to this list, including infections, tumors, kidney stones, and abdominal aortic aneurysms – which take place when a blood vessel becomes enlarged. Fibromyalgia, which is a condition that causes pain and fatigue is yet another possibility, as is compression of the sciatic nerve (Sciatica).
What You Can Do To Avoid Lower Back Pain
If you are unaccustomed to regular exercise, you may not be overly enthusiastic about starting a program. However, this can be extremely helpful for anyone in pain, and as a preventative measure toward decreasing your chances of dealing with discomfort in the future.
Exercise will strengthen your core, which will result in less strain on your back. It will also improve your circulation, which will provide a boost to your disc and your joints.
It is also critical that you make every attempt to maintain good posture because increasing the curvature of your back through slouching will make it more difficult for your lower back to support your weight.
Standing with your weight equally balanced on both feet will also reduce the workload for the lower region of your back. Doing your best to refrain from heavy lifting, and being careful not to contort your body when you decide to lift any items will also improve your chances of avoiding issues.
When You Should Visit A Doctor
Even though there are various causes for lower back pain, it may be difficult for you to determine what is causing your discomfort. However, it is unlikely that you will have any uncertainty about the need to improve your situation if you are in pain. Particularly if the discomfort is debilitating, and creating a negative impact on your daily life. There are also certain symptoms that should indicate the immediate need to consult a physician.
First, if you recently experienced a fall or trauma from an automobile accident then it is important for you to visit a doctor. Also, if you are experiencing fever your back issue could be the result of a serious infection.
If you notice numbness or tingling, it could signal nerve irritation or damage. If this is the case, and it remains untreated, then that leads to the risk of more permanent nerve damage.
You should also visit a physician if you experience any loss of bladder or bowel function. This is also the case for any unexplained weight loss.
It is also important to see a doctor if your lower back pain is causing you to stay awake at night, and you should absolutely visit a physician if your lower back pain has persisted for six weeks or more.
What A Doctor Will Do
When your doctor undertakes the process of determining why you are having issues within the lower back, there are factors that will help uncover why you are dealing with pain. This includes whether your problem began suddenly, what movements cause the pain when it becomes worse, and whether or not there are other symptoms beyond your pain – such as muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, stiffness, swelling, or loss of balance.
Your initial exam will likely include a determination of how effectively you can stand and walk, along with other basic movements of your legs.
Your physician might also order x-rays, an MRI, a CT scan, or a blood scan if any of these tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of the issue that is causing your discomfort.
At that point, any potential medication, physical therapy, exercise program or surgery will be determined by your specific diagnosis.
At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help
If you or someone in your family is contending with lower back pain, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates will provide you with their expertise, along with an unwavering commitment toward determining why you are suffering from pain. They will also devise an effective treatment plan that will dramatically improve your situation.
At Orthopedic Associates, our collection of board-certified doctors supply the vast knowledge that can only result from a combined total of 183 years of experience. This includes spine doctors Brady G. Giesler, M.D. and John C. McElroy, M.D., who are dedicated toward guiding you back to a pain-free existence.
Even if lower back pain is not your primary concern, we also offer multiple solutions for a wide range of back conditions – both with or without surgery.
At Orthopedic Associates, We Treat These Conditions Of The Back
- Anatomy of the Spine
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Compression Fractures of the Spine
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Facet Joint Syndrome
- Herniated Disc(s) (Cervical)
- Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
- Metastatic Cancer of the Spine
- Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
- Post-Laminectomy Syndrome
- Spinal Epidural Abscess
- Spinal Infection
- Spinal Stenosis
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Where Lower Back Pain Begins
- Where Neck Pain Begins
If you have any questions, or if you are dealing with a back issue, we will find the solution that works best for you. Contact or visit one of Orthopedic Associates’ two locations or request an appointment today.