Suffering with back pain is often challenging. One of the most difficult aspects of the pain is discovering its underlying cause.
From overexertion to degenerative conditions, the causes of back pain are extremely diverse. Whether you’re struggling with lower left back pain or general pain in the lumbar region, a little research can help you discover the cause of your back pain. Once you understand your condition, you can better manage your pain.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
In general, a lower back ache can be attributed to one of three general causes. Before determining the specific condition causing your back pain, you should try to figure out which of these general causes is most closely tied to your pain.
One of the main causes of back pain is injury. If your back pain developed suddenly after exercising, bending over, or engaging in heavy lifting, you have likely pulled a muscle or ligament in your back. Other, more serious injuries such as spinal fractures will require medical attention.
To prevent pulled muscles and ligaments, it is important to stretch and exercise regularly. Instead of being a “weekend warrior” regarding fitness and household work, try to incorporate a little physical activity into your daily routine. By doing so, you will strengthen your back and core muscles, reducing the odds of hurting your back in the future.
If you suffer from occasional back, neck, and shoulder pain, it is possible that poor habits are contributing to your discomfort. Poor posture, for instance, can put strain on the neck, shoulders, and lumbar region. Maintaining bad posture in front of a computer can lead to lower right back pain, particularly after using a mouse for a prolonged period of time. Sleeping on your stomach regularly can also cause chronic lower back pain.
If you can determine the habits that have contributed to your back pain, work to correct them. Try sleeping in a different position or purchasing a memory-foam mattress. Buy a desk chair with adequate lumbar support and work on improving your posture. Do exercises to increase your core muscle strength. Though it takes time and effort to correct these entrenched habits, your efforts will ultimately reduce your back pain.
Chronic back pain, especially in older adults, is often caused by acquired conditions. Degenerative lumbar spine conditions often develop with age, leading to persistent back pain. Disc conditions, such as lumbar spinal disc herniation and degenerative disc disease, are among the most common causes of back pain in adults. Osteoarthritis, sacroiliac joint disease, and spinal stenosis also develop over time, leading to chronic lower back pain.
These more serious causes of pain should be addressed with a medical professional. A doctor can perform scans and test to help diagnose your condition.
Top 7 Lower Back Pain Causes
Once you have determined the general cause of your discomfort, you will probably want to figure out the specific condition behind your pain. The following seven conditions are a few of the most common causes of lower back pain.
1.) Muscle or Ligament Strain
If you have begun experiencing pain after a specific movement or activity, you have probably strained a muscle or ligament in your back. Common symptoms of a strain include achy pain, muscle spasms, difficulty moving, and radiating pain in the buttocks and groin regions.
Treatments for strains generally include ice and heat therapy, medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers, massage, and stretching.
2.) Spinal Disc Herniation
If, in addition to back pain, you experience sharp and tingling pain that radiates through your buttocks and legs, you are likely suffering from a herniated disc. When a lumbar disc becomes herniated, it often leads to sciatic pain throughout the lower body.
Though painkillers, chiropractic, and stretching can sometimes reduce sciatic pain, it is generally best to have a herniated disc treated. Epidural steroid injections are effective for many patients. If injections are not effective, a minor surgery can generally correct the condition.
3.) Degenerative Disc Disease
If you suffer from constant back pain that includes periods of severe muscle spasms and pain, you may be suffering from degenerative disc disease. Most patients with this condition find that moving around feels more comfortable than standing or sitting.
Degenerative disc disease can be treated in a number of ways. Epidural injections are often paired with pain medications, chiropractic, massage, and exercise to relieve symptoms. Pain management rarely requires surgery.
4.) Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is another relatively common back pain condition. Patients, who are generally 50 or older, tend to suffer from sciatica and lumbar pain.
In many cases, stretching, activity modification, painkillers, and epidural injections are enough to help patients manage spinal stenosis. For cases that require surgery, a number of procedures can be performed, including laminectomies, foraminotomies, and laminotomies.
Spondylolisthesis is a back pain condition caused by a vertebra that has slipped out of place, placing pressure on the vertebra below it. The condition commonly affects adolescents and young adults. Symptoms include pain that radiates through the thighs and buttocks, tight hamstrings, and legs that feel tired or numb.
In most instances, heat and ice treatment paired with painkillers, physical therapy, and epidural injections are enough to treat spondylolisthesis. In a few extreme cases, spinal fusion surgery may be performed to relieve pain.
6.) Sacroiliac Joint Disease
Sacroiliac Joint Disease is a condition that affects the sacroiliac joint of the pelvis. The condition generally involves an achy pain that is felt throughout the lower back, hips, and groin. The pain is often relieved by changing positions or lying down.
Medications, chiropractic, physical therapy, and injections are usually sufficient for treating sacroiliac joint disease. In rare instances, joint fusion may be performed to treat the condition.
7.) Other Health Conditions
Miscellaneous health conditions often contribute to or worsen lower back pain. Pregnancy often puts strain on the lower back. Chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and endometriosis can cause discomfort in the spinal region. Psychological conditions like depression can trigger lumbar pain as well. If you have any conditions that may be contributing to your pain, contact your doctor to discuss treatment options.
Whether you are struggling with minor backaches or chronic discomfort, it is important to understand the underlying medical condition behind your back pain. If you are uncertain as to the cause of your pain, consult your primary care physician to undergo a preliminary examination. Once your condition is diagnosed, you can proceed with treatment and recovery, which will provide you with the relief you deserve.