Low Back Pain Overview Low Back Pain Causes & Symptoms Low Back Pain Diagnosis & Treatment

What Causes Low Back Pain?

Most low back pain is mechanical related in nature. In many cases, low back pain is associated with spondylosis, a term that refers to the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:

1. Muscle Sprains and Strains: Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing of ligaments, whereas strains are tears in tendon or muscle. Both can occur from twisting or lifting something improperly, lifting something too heavy, or overstretching. Such movements may also trigger spasms in back muscles, which can also be painful. Typically, muscle strains are a sign of acute back pain. If the condition becomes chronic, it can be related to facet joint syndrome.

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2. Degenerative Disc Disease: Pain originating from a damaged dehydrated and deteriorated vertebral disc particularly due to degenerative disc disease. Early disc degeneration may not cause severe pain or other symptoms, but when the degeneration becomes advanced, or with injury (annular tear), low back pain may occur.

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3. Herniated or Ruptured Discs: Over time, the intervertebral discs become compressed and bulge outward (herniation) or rupture,causing low back pain.

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4. Radiculopathy: A condition caused by compression, inflammation and/or injury to a spinal nerve root. Pressure on the nerve root results in pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation that travels or radiates to other areas of the body that are served by that nerve. Radiculopathy may occur when spinal stenosis or a herniated or ruptured disc compresses the nerve root.

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5. Sciatica: Sciatica is a form of radiculopathy caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that travels through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. This compression causes shock-like or burning low back pain combined with pain through the buttocks and down one leg, occasionally reaching the foot.

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6. Spondylolisthesis: A condition in which a vertebra of the lower spine slips out of place, pinching the nerves exiting the spinal column.

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7. Traumatic Injury: When playing sports, experiencing a car accident or a fall injures tendons, ligaments or muscle the results can lead to low back pain. Traumatic injury may also cause the spine to become overly compressed, which in turn can cause an intervertebral disc to rupture or herniate, exerting pressure on any of the nerves rooted to the spinal cord. When spinal nerves become compressed and irritated, back pain and sciatica may result.

8. Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that can cause pain or numbness with walking and over time leads to leg weakness and sensory loss.
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9. Scoliosis: A curvature of the spine that does not usually cause pain until middle age. Lordosis is an abnormally accentuated arch in the lower back. In many people scoliosis can cause debilitating chronic pain that can require surgery to relieve the pain.

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What are the symptoms of Low Back Pain?

When any one of these conditions become prevalent the following symptoms are associated with these conditions:

  • Pain in the area of the disc tear in the low back. This pain can travel into the buttocks and thighs not usually past the patient’s knees.
  • Spasms of the low back and buttocks muscles
  • Numbness and or tightness can be related to disc tears or bulging and herniated disc. If the disc bulges, extrudes or herniates into the spinal canal and compresses the spinal nerves, the patient can experience numbness in the legs.
  • Weakness is a commonly associated symptom resulting from a spinal nerve being compressed or irritated. The patient experiences weakness in their buttock, thigh or hamstrings or leg buckles, and they lose control of the leg temporarily.
  • Tingling is commonly found in patient’s legs or feet when experiencing degenerative disc disease, annular tears, herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

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