Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work. Lower back pain is also a leading cause of disability worldwide. Nearly four out of five people will suffer lower back pain at some point in their lives.
If you’re living with lower back pain, it’s important to know what causes it, what you can do to prevent further injury, and what your options are for treatment and medical intervention.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is most often caused by injuries to the muscles and tendons in the lower back. While strains and sprains are the most common causes, there are some less common causes that you should still be aware of:
- Arthritis in the spine can cause severe or mild back pain depending on how progressed the condition is
- Structural problems or anything pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and/or lower back pain. Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) can also lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving
- Diseases like tumors, kidney stones, infections, and several types of cancer can cause back pain
- Fractures and broken bones from a car crash or a fall can be an acute cause
- Spondylolisthesis can be another cause when vertebrae in the low back slip out of place
- Inactivity or poor posture, such as sitting at a desk all day can also cause stiffness and pain in the lower back
It’s difficult to tell exactly what’s causing back pain from a description of symptoms and a visual inspection of your spine. Your best bet at getting an accurate diagnosis for your pain is consulting joint pain experts who have the advanced diagnostic tools and experience to correctly identify exactly what is causing your lower back pain.
Common Symptoms of Low Back Pain
Lower back pain comes in different degrees and types. Your pain might range from a muscle aching to a shooting, burning or unbearably painful stabbing sensation. Or in some cases, pain may radiate down your leg or worsen with bending, twisting, lifting, standing or walking. There are a wide variety of symptoms.
The more you’re aware of the type, degree, timeline and causes of your back pain, the better you can inform your doctor or surgeon about your specific condition. “My lower back hurts” is less informative than saying, “Ever since I helped move furniture for a friend last week, my back has been hurting when I lie down to sleep.”
Whichever symptoms you are experiencing, consulting a specialist who can correctly diagnose your condition and help you intervene is the best path to take.
Prevention and Relief From Lower Back Pain
The key to getting relief from lower back pain is to remove as much stress as possible on your spine. You can take stress off and help prevent further injury by maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening your abdominal muscles, lifting correctly, and being generally healthy (don’t smoke, limit or stop consuming alcohol, and get proper nutrition).
It’s extremely helpful to consult doctors and surgeons who work specifically with spinal issues. They can pinpoint the cause of your pain and the best way to get relief.
However, if your lower back pain progresses to a point that only medical intervention can make an impact, then there are several options that can help. Your doctor may recommend the following:
- Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, and other drugs that prevent back spasms can provide relief
- Physical therapy can strengthen muscles to better support your spine while improving flexibility
- Massage can help relieve pain
- Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation
- Surgery for low back pain is a good option when conservative treatments don’t work and your pain is consistent and debilitating
If you’re to the point where surgical intervention is your best option, your choice of surgeon matters. Different physicians have different specialties, use different technologies, have varied experiences, and will communicate with patients differently. Who you ultimately trust to operate on your spine is an important choice.
Oasis Hospital’s MDs and Surgeons are the best of the best. No matter your issues or special considerations, they will be able to do everything possible to get you relief and recover from lower back pain.
Our physicians and surgeons are dedicated to our patients’ well-being. Our work has contributed to Oasis Hospital winning several awards for patient safety and surgical excellence. If you’re stuck in bed or on the couch suffering from lower back pain, reach out today to find out how the medical professionals at Oasis Hospital in Phoenix, AZ can help get you moving again.