According to the National Institute of Health, low back pain, or lumbago, impacts an estimated 80% of the entire population. Although each individual has his or her own threshold for pain, low back pain can negatively impact your life. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with, and even overcome, low back pain. At West Michigan Spine Center, our experienced team of medical specialists is trained to treat a variety of back and spinal conditions and offer back pain management.
Anatomy of Low Back Pain
The lumbar spine includes five larger vertebrae and supports a greater amount of body weight. This segment is primarily responsible for low back pain.
The vertebrae form an interconnected canal protecting the spinal cord, and small facet joints within the vertebral column enable movement and spinal rotation. The flat, round intervertebral disks between each vertebra enable flexibility, strength, and movement. They also contain water that depletes with time, causing available disk space to narrow and low back pain to develop.
Causes and Symptoms of Low Back Pain
Activities, such as over-activity and bending or lifting, contribute to low back pain, but such pain typically disappears within a few weeks. Aging, beginning as early as 20s or 30s, can cause low back pain. Other causes may include:
- Intervertebral disk tears, injuries, or herniation (slipped disks)
- Disk degeneration – disks collapse and rub together
- Spondylolisthesis – stress fractures that weaken bones causing disk shifting and nerve pressure
- Spinal Stenosis – the space around the spinal cord narrows causing cord and pressure on the nerves in the lower back
- Bone spur – a new bone spur (growth) develops to support vertebrae after disks collapse and may narrow the spinal canal.
- Scoliosis – an abnormal spinal curve affecting children, adolescents, and older arthritis patients.
- Diseases – such as cancer or Spine Centerular or arterial disease
Symptoms of low back pain include constant or intermittent pain, sudden flashes or a slow onset, sharp, stabbing pain, dull aches, or cramps. Although lying down or reclining may offer relief, the pain can worsen with bending, lifting, standing, walking or sitting. You may experience pain radiating from the back into the buttock or outer hip area, but not down the leg. There may also be sciatica affecting the nerves in the lower back causing pain in the buttocks or legs, tingling, numbness, or weakness. Low back pain patients may even experience fever, chills, or unexpected weight loss. All of these symptoms may require medical attention.