Almost everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. However it happens, low back pain can make many everyday activities difficult to do. In a large survey, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months.
Back pain varies. It may be sharp or stabbing. It can be dull, achy, or feel like a cramp. The type of pain you have will depend on the underlying cause of your back pain.
People with low back pain may experience some of the following:
- Back pain may be worse with bending and lifting.
- Standing and walking may worsen pain
- Sitting may worsen pain.
- Back pain comes and goes, and often follows an up and down course with good days and bad days.
- Pain may extend from the back into the buttock or outer hip area, but not down the leg.
- Sciatica is common with a herniated disk. This includes buttock and leg pain, and even numbness, tingling or weakness that goes down to the foot. However, t is possible to have sciatica without back pain.
There are many causes of low back pain. The most common cause is muscle strain often related to heavy physical labor, such as lifting or bendin, lifting or forceful movement, bending or twisting into awkward positions, or standing in one position too long.
Aging causes degenerative changes in the spine. These changes can start in our 30s, or even younger, and can make us prone to back pain, especially if we overdo our activities.
- Over-activity: Sprains and strains account for most acute back pain. Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing ligaments, and 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.
- Disk herniation: A herniates disk when its jelly-like center (nucleus) pushes against its outer ring (annulus). If the disk is worn or injured, the nucleus may squeeze all the way through. When the lumbar herniated disk bulges out toward the spinal canal, it puts pressure on the sensitive spinal nerves, causing low back pain. Sciatica is the most common symptom of a lumbar herniated disc. It occurs in the buttock and down the leg. A herniated disk often occurs with lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting movements.
- Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis occurs when the space around the spinal cord narrows and puts pressure on the cord and spinal nerves. When intervertebral disks collapse and osteoarthritis develops, your body may respond by growing new bone in your facet joints to help support the vertebrae. Over time, this bone overgrowth (called spurs) can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal. Osteoarthritis can also cause the ligaments that connect vertebrae to thicken, which can narrow the spinal canal.
- Disk Degeneration: As we age, our intevertebral dicks begin to wear away and shrink. It causes the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one another in some people. Pain and stiffness result.
- Cauda equina syndrome: It is a serious but rare complication of a ruptured disc. It occurs when disc material is pushed into the spinal canal and compresses the bundle of lumbar and sacral nerve roots, causing loss of bladder and bowel control.
- Kidney Stones: This can cause sharp pain in the lower back, usually on one side.
- Fibromyalgia: It is a chronic pain syndrome involving widespread muscle pain and fatigue.
- Additional Causes: Other causes of low back pain, which can be serious, include vascular, endometriosis, or arterial disease, or a history of cancer.
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