Did you know that 80% of Americans will experience lower back pain in their lifetime? While not all of these pain points are from sitting, poor posture is one of the most common lower back pain causes. How else can you experience lower back pain, and what can you do to prevent it?
The 6 Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Strains occur from excessive activity that causes the muscles and ligaments in your back to stretch or tear. When this happens, you’ll feel pain in your lower back and have discomfort walking, sitting, or moving.
To resolve strains, you’ll need to rest for several days using a cold or heat pack to relieve pain. For some severe strains, you’ll need to attend regular sessions of physical therapy. Physical therapy will provide exercises that can strengthen the muscles at a shorter pace, allowing you the time you need to recuperate.
2. Disc injury
As you get older, the discs in your back become more prone to injury. This is known as a herniated or ruptured disc. Disc injuries occur when the cartilage surrounding the disc pushes against the spinal cord or nerves, causing the cushion between the spinal vertebrae to extend out. Most disc injuries occur from the sudden lifting or twisting of the back – like during weight lifting. This injury can sometimes extend to the legs, which is known as sciatica.
At home, you can use an ice and heating pack to provide pain relief for your back. This is often paired with pain relief products. You should also attend physical therapy to gently exercise and stretch your back to relieve pressure on the nerve root. In some extreme cases, surgery may be an option. Consult your doctor before making any final decisions.
3. Spinal stenosis
Sometimes your spinal column will narrow, causing pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. This is typically caused by the degeneration of the discs between your vertebrae. The result is spinal stenosis and can cause numbness, cramping, and weakness. These symptoms worsen when standing or walking. Over time, this can lead to leg weakness or sensory loss.
To relieve pain, you can take some over-the-counter pain relievers, but more permanent solutions like physical therapy should be integrated into your routine. People with spinal stenosis tend to stay away from activity due to the pain related to standing and walking, but lack of exercise can lead to more problems. Depending on the severity of your spinal stenosis, your doctor may suggest surgery to relieve the pressure on your spine and nerves.
4. Abnormal spine curvatures
People with conditions like scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis struggle with abnormal spine curvatures. These are congenital conditions that are often discovered during childhood or adolescence. Spinal abnormalities typically cause pain and posture issues because of pressure on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and vertebrae.
Depending on your age, the amount of curvature, and the type of condition, a combination of using a brace and attending physical therapy is used to straighten the spine. For severe cases — where the curve is 40 degrees or more — surgery is suggested such as spinal fusion or bone grafting.
Spondylolisthesis occurs most often in young athletes — children and teenagers — although it may also occur due to the abnormal bone formation while in utero (known as congenital spondylolisthesis), or as you age, known as degenerative spondylolisthesis. It’s a disorder that causes loss of normal spinal structure and functionality. The location of the degeneration varies from person-to-person, but it typically causes the lower spine to slip out of place and pinch the nerves of your spinal column.
In addition to pain relief medications, ice and heat packs, and physical therapy, some doctors may also suggest manual manipulation to the vertebrae. For severe conditions, surgery may be required.
6. Traumatic injuries
Some back injuries may occur from traumatic injuries due to sports, car accidents, or sudden falls. This can cause the spine to become compressed, which can lead to other problems – including ruptured discs or strains. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you should seek medical attention – even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt initially.
If You’re Experiencing Lower Back Pain, Visit The Orthopedic Clinic
At the Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, let us help you. Our clinic provides a variety of services and specialized care to get you back on your feet sooner – on a budget you can feel good about.