Lower back pain is no laughing matter. In fact, it is a concern for around 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. It is more common in people between the ages of 30 and 50 – which is often largely due to long days spent at the office.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lower back pain keeps many people from participating in daily activities, and it is the most commonly cited reason for work-related disabilities.
If you’re one of the many sufferers of lumbar discomfort, you may be wondering what the cause is. Below, we review some of the most common causes of lower back pain.
Strain and Lower Back Pain
Back strains can put a real strain on your life, both literally and figuratively – whether they’re putting you on the bench during baseball season or causing you to decline plans with friends. A torn or pulled muscle or ligament is the number one reason for lumbar pain.
Excess activity, or stretching the muscles and tendons of the back beyond their limits, can leave you with pain, stiffness, and unbearable muscle spasms. Luckily, rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications are usually enough to remedy the situation.
Lumbar Pain from Injured Discs
Nestled in between each set of two vertebrae in the back are tiny spinal discs that serve as protective cushions. Just as an airbag would help protect you in a car accident, these fluid-filled discs act as a buffer from the immense pressure put on the spine throughout our day.
Unfortunately, like anything else, spinal discs aren’t impervious to damage – and they are prone to ruptures when we lift something that is too heavy or we twist the back too harshly. Herniated discs (also called slipped or ruptured discs) will put pressure on the adjacent sensitive spinal nerves, leading to persistent pain.
Back Pain Caused by Degenerated Discs
Disc degeneration is more common than we might assume. Indeed, 60 percent of asymptomatic middle-aged people show signs of disc bulge, protrusion, or extrusion in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
And if a herniated disc pushes against the sciatic nerve, it can cause a shooting pain in the lower back, legs, and feet – a condition known as sciatica. It usually affects only one side, but it can make it painful to sit or lie down.
Spinal Stenosis and Lumbar Pain
If you’re suffering from numbness, cramping, and weakness when standing or walking, spinal stenosis could be to blame. This condition occurs when the spinal column begins to narrow, which usually is a residual effect of disc degeneration or osteoporosis.
As the spinal column contracts gradually over time, sufferers begin to feel pain and tingling. It isn’t a condition to be taken lightly; if left untreated, it can lead to balance issues, permanent numbness, and even paralysis.
Inherited Back Issues
When it comes to lower back pain, congenital conditions may also be a culprit. Abnormal curvatures of the spine and poor posture, as exhibited in disorders such as scoliosis (an S-shaped spine), kyphosis (hunchback), and lordosis (inward curve of the lower back), can add extra pressure to the vertebrae.
Fortunately, spinal curvatures can usually be identified early during childhood and in the teenage years, so treatment can help to straighten the spine during development. It can even be treated in adulthood if it develops later in life.
Back Pain Doctor in Colorado
There are many other causes of lower back pain, but diagnosing each of them starts with a single step – a visit to a reputable physician who can help you identify the underlying issue.
From CT scans and X-rays, to ultrasound and MRIs, the medical specialists at STAR Spine & Sport will discover what’s ailing you – and provide a complete course of action to put you on the path toward eradicating pain.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (303) 238-4277 or fill out our appointment request form here. We look forward to helping you walk tall, sit straight, and enjoy a more pain-free lifestyle.