Lower back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in the United States. In fact, in one study, as many as 25% of Americans reported lower back symptoms within the prior three months.
Back pain can be roughly divided into acute pain that comes on rapidly and chronic pain that develops more slowly and persists for weeks, months, or longer. Lower back pain symptoms can range from mild to severe, but even modest symptoms can make everyday activities unbearable.
At Vulcan Pain Management, Victor Mendoza, MD, and his team help patients in Birmingham, Alabama, relieve lower back pain and related symptoms, using tailored therapy options based on the underlying cause of pain. If you have lower back pain, here are five possible causes of your symptoms.
#1 Overuse injuries
Overuse injuries include injuries that happen due to excessive physical activity or repetitive activities, like bending or lifting over and over again. These activities can cause lumbar strain, an injury that can affect your muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your lower back and spine.
This type of lower back pain tends to come on suddenly, usually right after the injury. You might have some tenderness when you touch your lower back, or you might experience muscle spasms or tight, stiff muscles that interfere with movement.
#2 Spinal stenosis
Your spine is made up of a series of bones or vertebrae that have openings running through the center. When lined up, these openings create your spinal canal, a long column that contains all your nerves as they travel from your brain to other parts of your body.
Stenosis means “narrowing,” and spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrower, often as a result of age-related changes inside your spine. For instance, arthritis may cause tiny growths called bone spurs that crowd the spinal canal.
As the spinal canal space narrows, your nerves become compressed, leading to lower back pain along with other symptoms, like numbness or weakness in your buttocks or legs. Stenosis in the lower back is also called lumbar stenosis, and it’s the most common form of the condition.
#3 Herniated discs
Discs are spongy structures located between each pair of vertebrae, providing shock absorption for your spine and supporting spine movement and flexibility. Sometimes, a disc moves out of its normal position, slipping beyond the edge of the bones, where it can be “pinched” or herniated.
Herniated discs often press on nerves, which means you can have pain, numbness, and other symptoms in your lower back radiating into your legs or buttocks. A herniated disc is a common cause of sciatica, a common type of lower back pain.
#4 Degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease is a relatively common cause of chronic lower back pain among older women and men. Years of wear and tear take their toll on your spine and your discs. Arthritis-related changes can contribute to degenerative disc disease, too.
Over time, your discs lose fluid, causing them to flatten out and compress the space between your vertebrae. Continued changes can lead to disc herniation and painful nerve compression and irritation.
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of your spine that develops during childhood and adolescence. Sometimes, symptoms don’t occur until you get well into adulthood.
Scoliosis outs uneven strain on your spine. That excess strain eventually leads to lower back pain, stiffness, and back fatigue. If the curvature causes nerve compression, you can also have pain and numbness in your legs.
Relieving lower back pain
Dr. Mendoza has extensive expertise in treating lower back pain in patients of all ages. Depending on your needs, he may recommend:
- Lifestyle changes
- Better ergonomics at work
- Physical therapy
- Injection therapy
- State-of-the-art laser therapy or minimally invasive treatments
To learn how he can help you relieve your lower back symptoms, call Vulcan Pain Management at 205-258-7246 or book an appointment online today.