What is Lower Back Pain?
“Lower back pain” refers to any pain or discomfort experienced in the bottom region of the spine, which is known as the lumbar spine. This region supports most of the upper body’s weight. Additionally, this specific type of back pain is extremely widespread, affecting around 80 percent of adults and ranking as the number one cause of job-related disability. Luckily, there are many effective treatments to alleviate or altogether eliminate lower back pain.
Lower Back Pain Video
Lower Back Pain Symptoms
The complex system of spinal muscles, bones, discs and tendons in and near the lumbar spine can be damaged by a number of factors. The first step toward identifying the source of your pain is paying attention to your unique symptoms. Common complications associated with lower back pain include:
- Achy, dull pain
- Muscle spasms
- Local soreness upon touch
- Pain that moves down one leg or to the groin, buttock or upper thigh
- Stiffness and difficulty moving
- Trouble sleeping
- Tingling or “pins-and-needles” sensations
- Numbness or weakness
Lower Back Pain Causes
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, it’s time to take control of your lower back pain. Begin keeping a pain journal and documenting the activities or situations that trigger your irritation, as well as steps you take to relieve it. This information will help you and your doctor identify the cause and severity of your lower back pain. The most frequent factors contributing to lower back pain are:
- Strained Ligaments or Muscle Tissues
When you improperly lift heavy objects, twist your back or overstretch, you risk marring ligaments and muscle tissue. While these may sound like mild injuries, they can be surprisingly debilitating and long-lasting if ignored or not taken care of properly.
- Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column narrows, placing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This issue can lead to pain, numbness, leg weakness and sensory loss, and runs the risk of becoming a very serious condition if not treated right away.
- Skeletal Irregularities
Congenital anomalies of the spine can cause lower back pain as they upset weight distribution and strain tissues, ligaments and nerves. Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and lordosis, an abnormally accentuated arch in the lower back, are two examples of skeletal irregularities that may spur discomfort in the lower back.
- Herniated or Ruptured Discs
When a disc in the lumbar region becomes herniated, its inner, liquid-like layer seeps through its hard casing by way of an infirmity or break. As this extra matter leaks into the affected area, nerves are pinched and pain occurs. Additionally, when a disc is ruptured it is no longer able to properly cushion and stabilize the spine, causing pain as muscles and ligaments overcompensate.
- Disc Degeneration
Although some discs in the spine deteriorate naturally with age, this process can happen abnormally quickly in some patients. Disc degeneration heightens your vulnerability to a myriad of spinal problems and can lead to distressing lower back pain.
Lower back pain can result when infections involve the vertebrae, intervertebral discs or sacroiliac joints. Bacteria, fungi or other germs maybe spread to bone from infected skin, muscles and tendons.
- Traumatic Injury
Car accidents, falls and other dramatic incidents can cause vertebral fractures, herniated discs and nerve damage. Even after the majority of injuries have healed, lower back pain may persist.
Radiculopathy describes the pain that results when nerve roots near the spine are strained, injured or inflamed. Numbness and radiating tingling may also occur.
A form of radiculopathy, sciatica causes sharp and burning lower back pain, accompanied by pain through the buttocks and down one leg — Occasionally even reaching the foot. These symptoms occur because the sciatic nerve is compressed and nerve signaling is being interrupted. Vertebral fractures, herniated discs, tumors and cysts may all incite sciatica.
- Health Issues, Such as Tumors
Tumors and other health issues can affect the spine and surrounding tissues, ligaments and nerves by pressing against components of the lower back and obstructing ideal functioning.
This condition causes brittle, weak bones, which are more susceptible to painful fractures and inefficient weight distribution.
Inflammatory diseases like arthritis and spondylitis, an irritation of the vertebrae, can cause stubborn low back pain.
This chronic pain syndrome involves general muscle pain and fatigue, which can translate into lower back discomfort.
- Kidney Stones
If you are experiencing sharp pain in the lower back, particularly on one side, you may be experiencing kidney stones. Also known as a renal calculus, a kidney stone is a solid piece of material formed in the kidney by minerals.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms
When the large blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally enlarged, pain may occur and an aneurysm may be imminent.
A sedentary lifestyle, obesity, pregnancy and smoking can also increase the likelihood of developing lower back pain. While this list of lower back pain instigators may seem lengthy, it is by no means comprehensive. Many circumstances can cause discomfort in the lower back, and to care for your condition you must first discover its root causes or causes.
Lower Back Pain Non-Surgical Treatment Options
At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our team of acclaimed spine and pain management specialists creates customized treatment plans to fit your individual needs and preferences. We offer many state-of-the-art procedures designed to accurately diagnose the underlying cause behind your lower back pain, so that you can feel better faster.
Depending on your symptoms, medical history and physical state, we may recommend undergoing a pain mapping procedure, which uses numbing medication to temporarily relieve your discomfort and locate the precise spot from which your pain stems. We may also recommend undergoing a CT scan or MRI. If your condition can be easily managed by over-the-counter medication, ice packs and heating pads, we will advise you to use conservative treatments and direct you to effective physical therapy or massage.
Lower Back Pain Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
Some spinal difficulties, however, require more sizable intervention. Herniated discs, fractured vertebrae and other severe complications can often be mitigated or removed completely by minimally invasive surgery.
Because minimally invasive surgery necessitates only minute incisions, it yields many advantages. Minimally invasive surgery lessens the risk of scarring and trauma to surrounding tissues. It also significantly shortens recovery times.
If you’re suffering from lower back pain, we may advise undergoing a:
- Discectomy or microendoscopic discectomy
During a discectomy, your surgeon will remove the ruptured portions of a disc while preserving the unaffected areas. Then, the disc wall is treated to prevent the soft nucleus from escaping again and causing subsequent pain. In microendoscopic discectomies, an endoscope (tiny camera) allows surgeons to carefully guide the procedure via a larger monitor.
Fusion-based surgeries involve removing fragments of slipped discs or broken vertebrae and inserting bone-bridges and spacers, which encourage vertebrae to fuse together. This minimally invasive method re-stabilizes the spine and counteracts the effects of degeneration.
You deserve to live a life unhindered by lower back pain flare-ups or chronic distress. Contact a spine specialist today by filling out the form on this page to learn more!