Low Back Pain Causes and Symptoms
The Causes of Lower Back Pain
Most of the causes of lower back pain are due to faults in the mechanics in your back. A majority of the patients we see who are seeking lower back pain treatment have issues associated with something called spondylosis. This is the natural deterioration of your spine over time. The joints, bones, and discs in your back endure a lot of stress and damage over the years and, in many cases, that can start to cause painful lower back issues. Here are some of the common causes we see in our office for lower back pain:
1. Muscle Sprains and Strains: Sprains are caused by ligaments that have been stretched too far. Strains are muscles or tendons that have been torn. These issues are commonly caused by lifting heavy objects incorrectly, twisting the wrong way, or stretching too far. This stretching and tearing can also cause painful spasms in your back. If the issue goes away with time, it’s a strain or sprain. But if the problem doesn’t go away and you experience lower back pain for six months of more, it could be a sign that you are experiencing facet joint syndrome.
2. Degenerative Disc Disease: Yours discs go through a lot over your lifetime, and as you get older the discs in your back can become damaged and dehydrated. This is known as degenerative disc disease. The early stages of the disease are usually painless, but as it progresses you could experience severe pain in the lower back that requires treatment.
3. Herniated or Ruptured Discs: When your discs become compressed over time, they can start to bulge out or even rupture. This can put pressure on the nerves in your back which, in turn, causes severe pain in your lower back.
4. Radiculopathy: This is another lower back pain issue that is caused by compression, injury, or inflammation in the spinal nerve root. Pressure on the nerve can create symptoms such as tingling, numbness or pain in other areas of the body connected by the nerve. Radiculopathy happens when a disc compresses the nerve and creates the symptoms listed above.
5. Sciatica: This is a form of radiculopathy that is caused when the sciatic nerve in your back is compressed. This nerve runs through your buttocks and down the back of your legs. Patients suffering from sciatica may feel shocks of pain or a burning, painful sensation in their lower backs, buttocks, and down one leg, sometimes even extending into the foot.
6. Spondylolisthesis: This condition is caused when the nerves exiting the spinal column are compressed by a disc in the lower back slipping out of place.
7. Traumatic Injury: Not only is lower back pain caused by age and time, it can be caused by traumatic injuries to the back as well. This could be due to sports accidents, car accidents, slip and falls, or other trauma. The results of traumatic injury include damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as compression on the nerves. It can cause discs to herniate or rupture, too. The results of the damage can cause the patient to need lower back pain treatment.
8. Spinal Stenosis: This condition is caused by the spinal column become more narrow and compressing the spinal cord and nerves. This can cause numbness and pain when you are walking, and if the condition progresses, it can lead to weakness and loss of feeling in your legs.
9. Scoliosis: This condition is usually diagnosed at a young age but might not cause pain in the patient until they reach middle age. Lordosis is a form of scoliosis that’s characterized by an abnormal arch in the lower back. This condition can cause severe pain that requires surgical intervention.
What are the Symptoms of Low Back Pain?
When any one of these conditions become prevalent the following symptoms are associated with these conditions:
- Pain in the lower back where there is a tear in your disc. This can cause pain in your buttocks and thighs, too.
- Painful back spasms in your lower back and buttocks.
- Numbness in the legs or back along with a tightness in the lower back, usually a sign of a herniated or bulging disc.
- Weakness in the buttock, thigh, or legs, potentially even losing control of the legs altogether, a sign of compressed nerves in the back.
- Tingling sensation in the legs or feet, common in patients with degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis among other conditions.