Lower Back Pain
What Are the Causes of Lower Back Pain?
There are two types of pain, acute pain which is typically brought on by physical injury either by a one-time event or by repetitive actions while chronic pain has deeper underlying issues and lasts as little as 6 months and sometimes a lifetime. The following is a list of the causes of lower back pain.
A muscle strain is an injury in which the actual muscle fibre is torn as a result of over stretching a muscle. This can happen from slipping on ice, doing exercises like, running, jumping and throwing, or lifting heavy objects, especially lifting those objects in awkward positions. These injuries develop symptoms such as pain and stiffness as well as muscle spasms.
Over time, your twisting and turning take a toll on your spinal discs, the little round tissues holding the vertebrae together. Sometimes the outside of the disc can tear or herniate, often called slipped or ruptured disc. In essence, upon injury, the fluid inside the disc leaks out and irritates the surrounding nerves. The lower back pain or numbness will either travel down the nerves to the buttocks or legs or up through the arms and typically last for longer than three days.
Sometimes the discs themselves are the cause of lower back pain. As part of the aging process, the discs tend to dry out, losing some of their flexibility. This can lead to a low threshold for rupturing the disc and reduced shock absorption which may cause damage to vertebrae or nerves. Those who suffer from spine degeneration typically suffer from symptoms lasting longer than 6 months consisting of painful aching mainly in the lower back which is worse when sitting, bending forward, twisting, or lifting objects. Severe symptoms can include numbness or tingling in the legs which can cause difficulty walking.
Another complication rising from degeneration of the discs is spinal stenosis, which is when the spinal column narrows, thereby applying pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This pressure on the nerves causes numbness, cramping, and weakness throughout the body which becomes worse when standing or walking.
Similar to spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis occurs when the spinal disc space collapses, causing the nerves to be pinched between two vertebrae. This radiates pain throughout the nerve that is pinched.
Both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis have been known to affect stenosis.
Abnormal Spine Curvatures:
A healthy spine has a gentle curve when viewed from the side. There are three main abnormal curvatures of the spine: Scoliosis, where the spine develops a sideways curve in the form of an “s” or a “c”, kyphosis, which is defined by a rounded upper back, with a greater than 50 degree curve, and lordosis, which is a slight inward curvature of the lower back. These conditions place pressure on muscles, tendons, ligaments, and vertebrae as uneven muscle and hip or leg placements cause pain and poor posture. Most are congenital conditions discovered in infancy and childhood while others develop from arthritis, osteoporosis, and spinal infections.
Pregnancy, kidney and bladder complications, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, spondylosis, and cancer are also causes of lower back pain. Less commonly, lower back pain can be a sign of serious medical conditions, such as a pinched nerve or diabetes. In the case of a pinched nerve, symptoms may include: chills, night sweats, fever, or loss of bladder control.