What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain can have a number of causes. It can interfere with your life. Some people who have lower back pain are unable to sit or stand in the same position for long periods of time, which can affect their performance at work and their ability to engage in the activities they enjoy at home. By finding the cause of your pain, we can help you find relief and prevent a repeat of your back pain in the future.

Identifying Types of Pain

There are a number of types of pain that can occur in the lower back. By identifying the pain that you are experiencing, we can help determine the cause. Types of pain fall into three general categories:

Mechanical Pain

This sort of pain is also known as axial pain. It is pain that is felt in a specific place. You can point to the place where you hurt. An example would be a strained muscle in the left side of your lower back. You can identify exactly where the pain originates. This sort of pain may be persistent or it may come and go throughout the day. It may be felt as an ache or as a sharp and piercing pain.

Radicular Pain

This is pain that travels along the paths your nerves take. Radicular pain is often described as shooting or searing. It is most commonly caused by pressure on or irritation of a nerve root.

Referred Pain

Have you ever experienced pain in your thighs or hips when you hadn’t been injured there? This is known as referred pain. Referred pain can travel from an injured area to nearby parts of your body. For instance, you might feel pain in your buttocks and thighs if you have a herniated disc.

Your pain levels and the type of pain you experience can depend on the cause of your pain, your age and your general level of health. We’ll assess your symptoms to determine the correct cause of your pain.

Causes of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain can come from a number of causes. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Muscle strains and sprains. These account for the largest share of lower back pain. These can be caused by overextending the back or twisting or lifting improperly. Medical care can help relieve pain during healing.
  • Herniated or ruptured discs. Between each of your vertebrae is a cushioned disc. When the jelly-like fluid in these is pushed out, lower back pain can result.
  • Sciatica. This painful condition is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. The result is pain, tingling, and numbness.
  • Degenerated discs. Over time, the discs in the spine can lose their ability to cushion the spine.
  • Arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the tissue in the joints degrades. It is more common in older adults but can happen to younger people as a result of trauma or accidents.
  • Spinal stenosis. This is a narrowing of the spinal column that causes painful pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This is a condition in which a vertebra slips out of place, putting pressure on nearby nerves.

Many back conditions have common symptoms. We assess your symptoms and have diagnostic tests performed to find the correct cause of your lower back pain. With a better understanding of your symptoms, we can put together an appropriate treatment plan.

When to Seek Treatment

Often, back pain will resolve on its own without any treatment at all. You may find that putting ice or heat on the affected area gives relief. Or, you may discover that over-the-counter NSAID medications help. In most cases, you’ll feel better within a few days or weeks.

However, there are some cases when back pain requires professional treatment. Pain that keeps you from sleeping or from going to work or school requires treatment. If your pain is accompanied by numbness or weakness, it can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Back pain with a loss of bladder or bowel control needs medical attention. You should also seek medical care if your back pain recurs or if it lasts more than a couple of days or weeks.

If you are suffering from lower back pain, we can help. Get in touch for a consultation. We can find the source of your pain and create a treatment plan that will help you find relief.