If you’ve ever had lower back pain stop you from doing what you want, you’re not alone. Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the world. It is a leading reason why people visit a doctor, affecting more than 80% of adults at some point in their lives. According to the Global Burden of Disease—a significant study published in the Lancet medical journal—lower back pain is also a leading cause of disability.
The lumbar spine, or low back, is a remarkably well-engineered structure of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles all working together to provide support, strength, and flexibility. However, this complex structure also leaves the low back susceptible to injury and pain.
You may not be able to prevent lower back pain, especially as you age and your back loses some strength and resilience. Low back pain is more likely to occur in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. Fortunately, there are many ways you can get relief, no matter the cause of your back pain. Acute back pain can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, while chronic back pain is pain that lasts longer than three months.
Let's look at some of the main causes of Low Back Pain!
Muscle Strain and Ligament SprainThe muscles and ligaments in the back can stretch or tear due to excess activity. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the lower back, as well as muscle spasms. Rest and physical therapy are remedies for these symptoms.
Common causes of sprain and strain include:
Disc injuryThe discs in the back are prone to injury. This risk increases with age. The outside of the disc can tear or herniate.
A herniated disc, which is also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, occurs when the cartilage surrounding the disc pushes against the spinal cord or nerve roots. The cushion that sits between the spinal vertebrae extends outside its normal position.
This can result in compression of the nerve root as it exits from the spinal cord and through the vertebral bones. Disc injury usually occurs suddenly after lifting something or twisting the back. Unlike a back strain, pain from a disc injury usually lasts for more than 72 hours.
Sciatica can occur with a herniated disc if the disc presses on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve connects the spine to the legs. As a result, sciatica can cause pain in the legs and feet. This pain usually feels like burning, or pins and needles.
Spinal stenosisSpinal stenosis is when the spinal column narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis is most commonly due to degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. The result is compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as discs.
Pressure on the spinal nerves causes symptoms such as:
Abnormal spine curvaturesScoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis are all conditions that cause abnormal curvatures in the spine. These are congenital conditions that are usually first diagnosed during childhood or adolescence.
The abnormal curvature causes pain and poor posture because it places pressure on:
Other conditionsThere are a number of other conditions that cause lower back pain. These conditions include: