Lower back pain can be acute (caused by a single incident) or chronic (caused over time). Acute symptoms tend to be localized and can be reduced with rest. Examples would be lower back pain caused by a car accident or by tearing a muscle while lifting something heavy. Chronic back pain tends to spread through the limbs and the intensity can fluctuate. Examples would be back pain caused by poor posture or repetitive motions over time.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Causes of lower back pain tend to involve injury of relevant muscles, spine abnormalities, or certain other health conditions. Some specific causes include:
Sprain/Strains: Sprains are injuries that involve ligaments which connect bone to bone. Strains are injuries that involve tendons which connect bone to muscle or involve the muscles themselves. Both injuries are caused by overextension or overuse, usually during physical activity.
Spinal Nerve Compression: Pressure applied to nerves in the spine can cause pain throughout the body. This cause is especially prevalent with the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in your body which runs from your spinal cord and into your legs.
Herniated/Bulging Disc: The discs in your spine cushion the vertebrae to prevent bone-on-bone grinding. As we age and through other factors, these discs can dry out and experience damage, allowing the onset of pain as the abnormal spine applies pressure on certain nerves.
Obesity: The lumbar spine, which is the section of spine in your lower back, supports most of your upper body. Excess weight increases pressure on the lumbar spine and can lead to many spine problems that cause back pain such as spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.
Vertebral Fractures: Breaks or cracks in bones throughout the spine can cause structural changes which apply pressure on nerves that connect to the lower back.
Autoimmune Disease: Some autoimmune disease, such as fibromyalgia, chron’s disease, or lupus, can cause symptoms of back pain.
Lower back pain can be a debilitating symptom of many different health factors including spinal abnormalities such as Disc Herniation, Facet Joint Disease, and Spondylolisthesis. Conservative treatment for lower back pain includes lifestyle changes (e.g. weight loss), physical therapy, and pain medications. Other treatment options include endoscopic spine surgery, a much safer alternative to traditional spine surgery when applicable. If you want to know whether you are a candidate for our minimally invasive endoscopic process, request a consult with one of our expert spine doctors.