Relax the Back: 10 Lower Back Pain Symptoms, Treatments, and Causes
Are you struggling with lower back pain? You're not alone. Here are 10 lower back pain symptoms, treatments, and causes!
Second only to the common cold, lower back pain is one of the most commonly cited reasons for skipping work across the U.S.
Lower back pain is not a specific disease, but rather a symptom of any number of underlying problems within the spine. And if you've been suffering from lower back pain for a period longer than 12-weeks, this qualifies as a chronic problem.
Here are some of the most common lower back pain symptoms that could be pointing to an underlying health condition you should probably know about...
10 Common Lower Back Pain Symptoms
Lower back pain is generally located in the lumbosacral region of the back, located at the crest of the pelvis.
For most people, lower back pain is usually characterized by an incessant, dull ache with intermittent periods of shooting pain, tingling, and numbness.
Some other symptoms of lumbosacral pain include:
Pain that radiates down the back, side, or front of a specific leg or both legs
Numbness, tingling or aching down the back of the right leg due to sciatica
Periods of pain are intensified after excessive activity
Pain may become worse at night
Pain may increase during prolonged periods of sitting i.e. with a desk job, or on a long flight
You may experience numbness or weakness in a certain part of your leg or foot
You may be unable to flex your feet, stand on your toes or point your foot down due to a compressed sacral nerve
The mobility in your toes may be limited, i.e. you may not be able to raise your big toe upwards
Lower back pain is exacerbated by lying flat on your back
You may experience limited or painful mobility when twisting and turning the spine
Lower back pain tends to be different from one person to the next. Ultimately, if you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be time to see your doctor. For now, here are some common causes of lower back pain to consider...
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
The majority of the time, lower back pain is mechanical in nature. In other words, there is an issue with spinal alignment or spondylosis- the general wear and tear of the joints, discs, and bones in the spine.
Here's what could be causing your backache:
1. Back Strain and Sprain
Quite simply this is caused by the overstretching or tearing of fine ligaments and tendons or muscles in the lower back. This can occur through heavy lifting, overstretching or unnaturally twisting the muscles.
Typically, a repeat of the movement that caused the injury can result in painful muscle spasms.
2. Disc Degeneration
This most commonly caused by the natural process of aging. The rubbery discs between your vertebrae begin to deteriorate over time, which can cause lower back pain.
A healthy back is characterized by intervertebral discs which allow for flexibility, bending, and torsion. As your discs deteriorate, the cushioning between the vertebrae decreases, resulting in nerve irritation and even bone-on-bone friction.
3. A Herniated Disc
This is similar to the above, although a herniated disc can occur at almost any age.
Basically, this is when an intervertebral disc is compressed to such an extent that it begins to bulge outside the vertebrae. In some cases, it can even rupture, causing major lower back pain.
This spinal condition is caused by injury, compression or inflammation of the spinal nerve root. This unnatural pressure results in numbness and tingling which radiates to areas of the body that are related to the specific nerve.
This condition is most commonly caused by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis which affects the nerve root.
This is a very common cause of lower back pain and is characterized by shooting pain and numbness down the back of one specific leg. The sciatic nerve travels through the buttocks down to the foot. When this nerve is pinched, damaged or inflamed it can cause burning, shock-like pain in the back and leg, and eventually reach the foot.
In some cases, a pinched sciatic nerve can also cause weakness and numbness in the leg due to interrupted nerve signals.
This is a less-common spinal condition but occurs when the vertebrae of the lower spine slips out of place. This results in the pinching of the nerves which exit the spinal column, along with serious lower back pain.
7. Spinal Trauma
And, of course, spinal trauma due to car accidents, sports injuries, and falls can result in lower back pain. Generally, the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the lower back are strained or damaged. Otherwise, the spinal cord can become compressed, causing disc herniation or rupture.
Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain
As you can imagine, treatment for lower back pain largely depends on the root cause of your pain. It also depends on whether your pain levels are acute or chronic. There are plenty of variables to consider.
Surgery for lower back pain is only recommended if there are signs of worsening nerve damage and major structural damage to the spine.
Otherwise, some more conventional treatments include:
Heat and cold packs which help to reduce inflammation for those with acute, subacute or chronic back pain
Activity- in short, bed rest should be limited. It's in your best interest to keep your spine mobile rather than lying in bed
Strengthening exercises are recommended for those with chronic lower back pain as a way to speed up recovery
Physical therapy programs are a great way to build up core strength and support the lower back
Chiropractic care - spinal manipulation at the hands of a professional chiropractor can help to mobilize, re-align, adjust the spine
Traction - this involves the use of weights and pulleys specifically designed to apply force to gradually ''pull'' the skeleton into alignment
Acupuncture- the use of very fine needles inserted into the muscle tissue of the lower back to release nerve blockages and pain
Finally, over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are also an option to help ease pain levels.
But keep in mind this is not a long-term treatment option. Painkillers only treat the symptoms of back pain and not the cause.
Looking for Affordable Back Pain Treatment?
If you've been suffering from any of the above back pain symptoms and want to regain control of your health, allow Axis Health to guide you on the best path.
We offer professional chiropractic expertise, along with acupuncture, massage therapy treatments, and more.
Contact us today to schedule your next appointment when you're in the Oregon region!