Low back pain (LBP) is a common disorder involving the muscles, nerves, and bones of the lower back. Almost everyone has it at some point in their life, about 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. This region supports most of the upper body’s weight. Pain here can range from intense sharp shooting pains to dull aching pains. Fortunately, low back pain often gets better on its own. When it doesn’t there are effective treatments.
Causes of Low Back Pain
- Disc Degeneration. Although some discs in the spine deteriorate naturally with age, this process can happen abnormally quickly in some patients.
- 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.
- 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 a break. As this extra matter leaks into the affected area, nerves are pinched and pain occurs. When a disc is ruptured it is no longer able to properly cushion and stabilize the spine, causing pain as muscles and ligaments overcompensate.
- 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.
- Spinal Stenosis. This can occur 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.
- Radiculopathy. Radiculopathy describes the pain that results when nerve roots near the spine are strained, injured or inflamed. Numbness and radiating tingling may also occur. Sciatica is a form of radiculopathy, which can cause sharp and burning lower back pain, stemming into the buttocks and down one leg.
- Osteoporosis. This condition causes brittle, weak bones, which are more susceptible to painful fractures and inefficient weight distribution.
- Arthritis. Inflammatory diseases like arthritis, an irritation of the vertebrae, can cause stubborn low back pain.
- Fibromyalgia. This chronic pain syndrome involves general muscle pain and fatigue, which can translate into lower back discomfort.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain
- Achy, dull pain
- Muscle spasms
- 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