What Causes Lower Back Pain And What Are Some Treatments

Are you among the countless individuals who grapple with the discomfort of lower back pain? Whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp sensation, lower back pain can significantly impact your daily life, hindering mobility and diminishing your quality of life. Understanding the underlying causes and discovering appropriate treatments can offer relief and offer hope for back pain relief.

Below are some common causes contributing to lower back pain and a variety of treatments aimed at providing relief and restoring wellness. Whether you’re a desk-bound professional, an athlete pushing physical boundaries, or simply someone seeking solutions to alleviate discomfort, we hope this guide can equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to address lower back pain effectively.

Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain

Sprains And Strains The most common cause of lower back pain is due to a pulled muscle, ligament or possibly both. Lower back sprains or strains can happen suddenly or over a longer period of time. A strain is when your muscle is stretched beyond its ability damaging the muscle tissue. Sprains happen when there is tearing of the ligaments or the ligaments become over stretched. Whether there is ligament or muscle damage, the symptoms along with treatment are the same. Sprains and strains can easily happen due to heavy lifting, sports injuries, poor posture, falling or any twisting of the spine that causes stress resulting in lower back pain. 

Degenerative Disc Disease When you are born your intervertebral discs are full of water. This is when they are at their healthiest. Over time,as you age, these discs lose hydration and wear down. When this happens the discs cannot resist forces on this part of the body as well as they used to which results in the disc wall taking the force where tears, pain and possible herniation become a result. Collapse of the disc can also be a result leading to stenosis. 

Lumbar Herniated Disc Inside the lumbar disc is a jelly like center. If this breaks through the tough outer layer of the disc it can irritate nearby nerve roots. This is because the herniated portion of the disc consists of proteins that cause inflammation to the nerve roots resulting in nerve pain. Compression of the nerve root can also result in nerve pain. 

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction This joint connects the sacrum which is located at the bottom of the spine to each side of the pelvis. Its primary role is to absorb shock and tension between the upper and lower body. Pain will result if the joint becomes inflamed or has too much or not enough motion. 

Facet Joint Dysfunction At each motion segment in the lumbar spine there are two facet joints behind each disc. These joints have cartilage between the bones and are surrounded by a capsular ligament integrated with nerves. The joints themselves can become painful or in conjunction with disc pain.   

Spinal Stenosis This is a condition that causes pain through the narrowing of the spinal canal where the nerve roots are located. Narrowing can be central, forminal, or both, and can be at a single level or multiple levels in the lower back.

Spinal Osteoarthritis- This condition results from wear and tear of the disc and facet joints especially with age. It causes pain, inflammation, instability, stenosis and can occur at single or  multiple levels of the lower spine. It is also referred to as spondylosis or degenerative joint disease.

Trauma- Acute fractures or dislocations of the spine that can lead to pain.  

Compression Fracture- A fracture that occurs in the cylindrical vertebra that can result in sudden pain. This type of fracture is often due to weak bones and is more common in older people like in those who have osteoporosis. 

Spondylolisthesis This condition occurs when one vertebra slips over the adjacent one.

Osteoarthritis This results from wear and tear of the disc and facet joints causing pain, inflammation, instability, and stenosis. It is often associated with aging and is typically progressive. 

Deformity- The most common curvatures of the spine can include scoliosis or kyphosis which are associated with lower back pain if it leads to the breakdown of the discs, facet joints, sacroiliac joints or stenosis.

Other Causes Of Lower Back Pain

Autoimmune Disease- Some autoimmune conditions can result in lower back pain such as RA, Lupus, Crohn’s Disease and Fibromyalgia. Those who experience compromised immune systems are also more susceptible to developing infection within the spine which results in lower back pain. 

Tumors- Spinal tumors are often seen in patients who were priorly diagnosed with cancer. Breast cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer and lung cancer are all known to spread to the spine where they metastasize. 

Infection-  Spinal infections are rare but can be life threatening and painful if left untreated. They can be caused by surgical procedures, injections or spread through the bloodstream.

Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

When it comes to lower back pain there can be a variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. Pain can come on suddenly or progress over time with it coming and going in waves. The underlying cause of pain is what will need to be looked at for these reasons. Common symptoms however include but are not limited to as follows: 

  • Dull or achy pain 
  • Burning or stinging sensation that can sometimes move to lower extremities 
  • Spasms in the muscle and tightness in pelvis, hips and lower back
  • Difficulty moving and functioning normally
  • Pain that increases after longer periods of sitting or standing

Lower Back Pain Treatments

There are various treatments available for lower back pain, ranging from self-care measures to medical interventions. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach based on the underlying cause and severity of your lower back pain. Additionally, combining different treatments or therapies as part of a comprehensive treatment plan may yield the best results for long-term management of lower back pain.Here are some common treatments:

  1. Exercise and Physical Therapy: Engaging in regular low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, can help strengthen the muscles supporting the lower back and improve flexibility. Physical therapy programs tailored to address specific issues can also be beneficial.
  2. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help alleviate mild to moderate lower back pain. In some cases, prescription medications like muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed by a healthcare provider.
  3. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat packs or cold packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Alternating between heat and cold therapy may also be effective for some individuals.
  4. Massage Therapy: Professional massage therapy can help relax tight muscles, improve blood flow, and alleviate tension in the lower back. Different massage techniques, such as Swedish massage or deep tissue massage, may be used depending on the individual’s needs.
  5. Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic adjustments and spinal manipulations performed by licensed chiropractors can help realign the spine, relieve pressure on nerves, and improve overall spinal function.
  6. Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese medicine technique involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to help alleviate pain and promote healing. Many people find acupuncture helpful for managing lower back pain.
  7. Lifestyle Modifications: Making adjustments to daily habits and ergonomics can play a significant role in preventing and managing lower back pain. This may include maintaining proper posture, using ergonomic furniture, lifting objects correctly, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing.
  8. Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections or nerve blocks may be recommended to provide temporary relief from severe lower back pain, particularly if other treatments have been ineffective.
  9. Cervical Decompression Therapy: Cervical decompression therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves gently stretching the spine to relieve pressure on compressed discs and nerves in the cervical (neck) region. This technique can help alleviate lower back pain by promoting spinal alignment, reducing disc bulging, and improving circulation to the affected area. Many individuals find cervical decompression therapy to be effective in reducing pain and improving mobility, especially when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
  10. Lumbar Decompression Therapy: Lumbar decompression therapy is another non-surgical treatment approach aimed at relieving lower back pain by reducing pressure on the spinal discs and nerves in the lumbar (lower back) region. This therapy typically involves the use of specialized equipment, such as traction devices or decompression tables, to gently stretch the spine and create space between the vertebrae. By decompressing the spine, lumbar decompression therapy can help alleviate symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling associated with conditions like herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis.
  11. Surgery: Surgery is typically considered as a last resort for treating lower back pain when conservative treatments have failed to provide relief. Procedures such as discectomy, laminectomy, or spinal fusion may be recommended in certain cases, particularly for conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

Lower Back Pain Care

The most important step in caring for lower back pain is determining the root cause of pain so the correct course of treatment can be given. At Pain Relief Partners, a thorough diagnostic assessment is performed so the team can approach each patient at an individual level and provide the best possible treatment. There is not always a cure for lower back pain but you can find relief through a variety of methods. Pain Relief Partners has multiple treatment options to reduce lower back pain such as trigger point injections, chiropractic care, low back pain exercises, deep tissue laser therapy, decompression treatment and more. Whatever the course of treatment, Pain Relief Partners strives to provide excellence in everything they do so that clients get the best care possible. 

The spine is a very important part of your body which is why it’s equally important that it is well taken care of. If you are experiencing lower back pain you will want to speak with your physician to determine the root cause and what course of action you can take to get the best possible treatment for it. 

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