Low back pain is one of the most common causes of job-related disability and perhaps the most common reason for visits to the doctor. It has been observed that 80% of Americans experience low back pain in their lifetime. There are two types of back pain: acute back pain and chronic back pain. Acute back pain can last from a few days to a few weeks whereas chronic back pain lasts longer than three months.
Muscle sprains or strains due to abrupt body movements or lifting heavy objects with poor body mechanics account for most reported low back pain. The following diseases can also cause low back pain:
- Infections of the spine
- Kidney infections
- A ruptured or herniated disc
- Cancer of the spinal cord
Of course, as the body ages, changes occur that can contribute to low back pain and make some of the risk factors more likely. That is why low back pain is more likely to occur in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. During that stage of life, there is a reduction in the fluid content between the vertebrae in the spine.
As a result, discs in the spine can become irritated more easily over time and you tend to lose some muscle tone. All of these factors enhance the probability of injury. Hence, if you integrate strength training into your regular exercise routine and make a habit of employing proper body mechanics in your daily life, you can prevent facing low back pain later on. If you do experience low back pain at some point in life (as many do), there are options for treating and improving your condition to achieve a better quality of life, such as a consult with educated professionals like the ones at ThriveMD. Follow along to learn more about how to identify your back pain and its root causes.
Major causes of low back pain
An excess of anything is bad. So, if you undertake an activity that is much too strenuous or with too much additional weight on your body, the muscles of your back are likely to stretch or tear. You may feel pain, muscle spasms, or stiffness in the lower back. Rest and physiotherapy are remedies that may help reduce these symptoms.
If a herniated disc presses on the sciatic nerve, you start feeling sciatic pain in your legs and feet. What actually causes pain to spread from your legs to your lower back is that the sciatic nerve stretches from your lower back through your hips and all the way down your legs. Any pain in one place on the nerve can easily spread to another.
The discs in your spine naturally undergo wear and tear over time. Therefore, they become prone to injury as the outside of a disc can tear or get herniated. Such a disc is also called a slipped or ruptured disc. If you lift something heavy or twist your back abruptly, some of your discs may suffer this injury as a result. This causes severe pain to your lower back and can linger for more than 72 hours.
At times, your spinal column narrows and exerts pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. The result is spinal stenosis. The most prominent reason for this is the degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. The spinal cord and the nerve roots get compressed by the bony spurs or soft tissues of these discs. The body starts experiencing the symptoms of numbness, cramping, and weakness throughout. These symptoms can worsen when the body is upright or in motion.
Abnormal spine curvatures
These can be caused by scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis, the congenital conditions usually diagnosed first during childhood or teenage years. Abnormal spine curvatures cause low back pain and poor posture because the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and vertebrae experience excessive pressure.
Other miscellaneous conditions
There are also some other conditions that may cause low back pain. These may include arthritis, fibromyalgia, spondylitis, spondylosis, pregnancy, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, cancer, and other kidney and bladder problems.
It’s best to consult a physician about your low back pain when the cause isn’t well known, especially before self-diagnosing one of these conditions. As you age, it is normal to start experiencing minor aches and pains, but you should never ignore unbearable or recurring pain. Be mindful of these potential causes of lower back pain and be sure to take action if your pain becomes severe.