Lower Back Pain
Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics


Top 7 Causes of Lower Back Pain

1. Strain

Many people know it is possible to injure the back while lifting something heavy or performing another physical task either at work or home. Still, it is important to be aware of the different types of back injuries and their severity. A strain can occur if you tear or stretch the muscles in the low back during some type of physical exertion, resulting in body and muscle aches. Other symptoms of a lower back strain besides pain are stiffness and spasms.[1] It is important to get plenty of rest if you strain your back muscles, and you might even need to visit a doctor.

2. Sprain

When you experience a sprain, it is because you have torn or stretched the ligaments in your back, leading to pain and discomfort. You might also experience spasms with a sprain.[2] If you can still move, you might just want to rest your back, but it is also a good idea to see a doctor to ensure that the problem isn’t any worse than you think.

3. Injured Disc

An injured disc is another type of injury synonymous with lower back pain. When a person has an injured or herniated disc, the disc has been pushed up against the spinal cord by the cartilage that typically protects and surrounds the disc.[1] This can be a serious injury that often requires medical treatment such as medications for pain, physical therapy, surgery, or alternative methods like chiropractic spine manipulation.[3]

4. Dehydration

In some cases, dehydration can cause lower back pain because the kidneys have not received enough hydration to do their job. If you also experience dry mouth, dark urine, cool skin, a headache, or infrequent urination, your lower back pain could be a result of dehydration.[4]

5. Aging

As people get older, they are likely to experience pain and discomfort, often in the lower back. The back is one of the areas that our bodies use often; we are likely to see it break down more quickly as we age. Some people experience chronic lower back pain, either as a result of heavy use when they were younger or of an injury, but the likelihood for this issue becomes stronger over time.[5] Other issues can cause lower back pain to worsen as we age, such as carrying excess weight, having bad posture, not exercising, smoking, and pregnancy.[6]

6. Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is a disc that moves out of place or that ruptures, causing the jelly-like fluid inside the disc to leak. This fluid can irritate nearby nerves or the spinal cord causing lower back pain. A herniated disc in the lower back may cause other symptoms, including numbness or sharp pain in the legs, hips, or buttocks.[4]

7. Traumatic Injury

Car accidents, bad falls, and sports injuries are examples of traumatic injuries that may cause lower back pain. These types of injuries can compress the spine and lead to problems such as herniated and ruptured discs, which contribute to lower back pain.[1]

9 Health Conditions Related to Lower Back Pain

1. Sciatica

Sciatica occurs when your sciatic nerve experiences a serious issue, causing your back, leg, and foot to hurt and to be harder to move. Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, leg, and foot are also common, and sciatica usually occurs on just one side of the body.[7] There are many causes for sciatica; sometimes, a doctor cannot determine the cause. Still, there are plenty of ways you can manage this syndrome, including medications, exercises you can do at home, alternative medicine, or surgery.

2. Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a disorder that causes the spine to become narrower. The spinal cord and the other nerves inside your spine start to hurt as the spine narrows, causing lower back pain. Other symptoms are numbness, cramps, weakness, and pain felt down the neck, arm, or length of the leg. A physical exam is necessary for diagnosis, and although this disorder does not usually occur in those younger than 50, those who have spinal injuries can sometimes fall victim to spinal stenosis. There are a host of ways to manage this disorder, including braces, medications, physical therapy, and surgery.[8]

3. Arthritis

Arthritis can make people more likely to experience back pain.[2] In fact, spondylitis is a type of arthritis that inflames the vertebrae and causes back pain and stiffness. Older individuals are usually at the highest risk of experiencing arthritis; treatments help patients cope with the disorder rather than cure or prevent it.

4. Skeletal Irregularities

Some people experience skeletal irregularities or abnormal spine curvatures, such as kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis.[1] Usually, these spinal disorders are diagnosed early in life, and doctors can help patients by giving them braces or other instruments to lessen the abnormal curvatures.

5. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition that causes the uterine lining to grow outside the uterus, creating intense pain. While there are options that minimize the issue of pain for those with endometriosis, it is unknown why this disorder occurs. Many women with endometriosis experience painful periods, low back pain, and stomach problems for years. Medications such as birth control pills can sometimes treat the disorder, but in severe cases, surgery is necessary.[9]

6. Kidney Stones

A kidney stone is a solid, crystalized mass that grows in the kidney or ureter. Kidney stones are more common in men than in women and normally develop as a result of not drinking enough water and liquids.[8] Common symptoms of kidney stones include lower back pain, nausea, chills, fever, vomiting, blood in the urine, and pain in the groin or testicles.[8] Kidney stones can often be treated using medications and surgery.

7. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become brittle, weak, and prone to fractures. People with osteoporosis generally suffer from lower back pain due to breaks and fractures of bones in the spine. Osteoporosis is highly prevalent in women over the age of 50 and may be caused by declining estrogen levels, lack of physical activity, and also lack of calcium and vitamin D in the diet.[9] This common bone disease can be treated using medications, nutritional supplementation, and by practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors such as exercising regularly.[9]

8. Inflammatory Joint Diseases

Inflammatory joint diseases that affect joints at the bottom of the spine can lead to problems with lower back pain.[1] Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and spondylitis are examples of inflammatory joint diseases associated with low back pain, as well as pain and stiffness in joints. Treatments for these conditions may include medications, physical therapy, and surgery.[11]

9. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that describes a set of symptoms that cause all-over body aches and pains. Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include lower back pain, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, and irritable bowel syndrome.[12] Fibromyalgia is normally treated using pain relievers and talk therapy, which helps people control and manage their symptoms.[12]

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Lower Back Pain

  • How long have you dealt with lower back pain?
  • What are your other symptoms?
  • Did you injure yourself recently?
  • Does anything cause the pain to worsen?
  • What does the pain feel like? Is it dull, sharp, continuous, stabbing, or something else?
  • When did you first start experiencing lower back pain?
  • Do you play sports, and if so, which ones?
  • Do you exercise regularly?
  • Did you recently suffer an injury or accident?
  • What other symptoms are you experiencing?
  • Does your lower back pain get worse when you do certain activities?
  • When does your lower back pain seem to subside?
  • Have you recently been diagnosed with another medical condition?
  • Are you pregnant, or do you think you might be pregnant?
  • Have you recently put on excess weight?
  • What is your current age?
  • Do any of your relatives suffer lower back pain or conditions that cause back pain?

Lower Back Pain May Also Be Known as

  • Backache
  • Lumbar pain
  • Lumbago
  • Muscle strain
  • Muscle sprain
  • Sciatica


Sources

  1. Healthline. Low Back Pain. https://www.healthline.com/symptom/low-back-pain
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
  3. Mayo Clinic. Herniated Disk. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354101
  4. National Library of Medicine. Dehydration. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000982.htm
  5. National Library of Medicine. Low back pain — chronic. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007422.htm
  6. Victoria Government. Lower back pain. http://www.health.vic.gov.au/edfactsheets/downloads/lower-back-pain.pdf
  7. National Library of Medicine. Sciatica. https://medlineplus.gov/sciatica.html
  8. National Library of Medicine. Spinal stenosis. https://medlineplus.gov/spinalstenosis.html
  9. Office of Women’s Health. Endometriosis. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis

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