Lower Back Pain – Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors
The Lumbar Spine
Lower back or the lumbar spine is an exceptionally well-designed structure with the interconnection of bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and all muscles. They work together to provide support, strength, and flexibility. Even though it is a complex and rigid structure it leaves the lower back sensitive to injury and pain.
The lower back(lumbar spine) bears the weight of the upper body and provides flexibility for everyday motions like bending and twisting. The muscles located in the lower back are responsible for the flexibleness and rotation of the hip while walking and also supports the spinal column. Nerves in the lower back help in sensation and also provide power to the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
About 80% of adults are experiencing lower back pain at a certain point of time in their life. It is one of the most common causes in people doing a job and it is a leading contributor in missing work days. Both men and women are affected by this lower back pain. It can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp and severe pain that can leave a person disabled.
Lower back pain is characterised as pain which can last between 4 to 12 weeks.
Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain:
Symptoms of the pain range from a dull ache to a stabbing like sensation in the back. The pain might even make it difficult to move or to stand up straight. Sometimes, the pain may radiate all the way down from the buttocks to legs. Usually, acute back pain will come suddenly after an injury in sports or lifting heavy objects. Pain which lasts more than three months is considered as chronic pain.
- Urinary incontinence or difficulty while urinating
- Swelling of the back
- Pain that worsens due to prolonged sitting
- Pain which travels down to the buttocks, knees, and feet
- Losing control over bowel movements
- Numbness around the genitals and anus
- Numbness around Lower hip or buttocks
- Severe pain in the abdomen
Causes Of Lower Back Pain:
As you know the human back is a complex structure made of muscles, disks, ligaments, tendons and bones. They will work together to enable us to move here and there.
Damage to any these parts can lead to back pain. In some peculiar cases, the cause of back pain remains unclear. The damage can be a result of strain, some medical conditions, structural problems, movement and posture etc.
Strain & Improper Posture
Back pain also causes due to some everyday activities or poor posture which include:
- When your job involved in lifting, pulling things which can twist the spine or sitting for a long period of time may contribute to back pain.
- Of course, you may carry a backpack or briefcase over your shoulder, but it is your lower back that bears the weight and can cause lower back pain.
- Poor posture while using a computer
- Choosing a very hunched or bowed sitting position when using computers can result in increased back and shoulder problems over time.
- Muscle tension & Muscle spasm
- Injuries, fractures, or falls
- Strained muscles or ligaments and damaged disks
- Over-stretching of your back
- Bending awkwardly or bending for a long period of time
- Straining your neck forward when driving or using a computer without any break
- Sleeping in a bad posture or sleeplessness
Herniated Disc or Slipped Disc: The spine’s vertebrae is covered by gel-like substances that are likely to wear and tear due to ageing or injuries. A vulnerable disc may be compressed or bulge (herniation), due to pressure which causes low back pain.
Sciatica: Compression of the sciatic nerve( the large nerve that travels through the buttocks to back of the leg causes shock-like or burning lower back pain associated with pain from the buttocks to down the leg and often reaches the foot.
Spinal stenosis: It is a condition of narrowing the spinal column which exerts extra pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This can cause pain or numbness in the lower back while walking and over time weakness your legs, sensory loss.
Arthritis: Arthritis including Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis causes joint problems in the hip, lower back, and some other places which leads to low back pain.
Osteoporosis: It is a metabolic bone disease that progressively decreases the bone density & strength and becomes brittle and porous which can lead to severe fractures of the vertebrae.
Some other structural problems like Spondylitis, Kyphosis etc. also the reasons for lower back pain.
Back Pain Due To Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions can lead to back pain.
Cauda equina syndrome: Cauda equina syndrome is a serious and also rare condition of a ruptured disc. It occurs when the disc is forcibly pushed into the spinal canal and the bundle of lumbar and sacral nerve roots are compressed, which can cause loss of control over bladder and bowel movements. If this condition is left untreated, it may result In permanent neurological damage.
Tumours: Tumors cause back pain rarely. Hardly, tumours may begin in the back, but more often they are the result of cancer which has spread from other parts of the body.
Infection To Spine: Infections rarely cause back pain. However, some infections can cause low back pain when the vertebrae are involved and the condition is called as osteomyelitis, discitis when the intervertebral discs infected and sacroiliitis where the sacroiliac joints joining the lower spine to the pelvis.
Other infections: Some other infections like Pelvic inflammatory disease(PID), shingles, bladder infections can also lead to back pain.
Sleep disorders: People with sleeping disorders are more prone to encounter back pain problems compared to other people.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: It is a condition where a large blood vessel that supplies blood to the pelvis, abdomen and to the legs abnormally become enlarged. Here in this condition back pain is a sign that the aneurysm is growing larger.
Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia, PMS problems, Prostatitis, abortions, uterine prolapse, obesity, ectopic pregnancy and many more underlying causes can lead to lower back pain.
Risk Factors Involved In Back Pain
Age: As people grow older they lose bone density, which can lead to fractures, and muscle elasticity is also lost. Typically low back pain occurs between the age of 30 and 50. Back pain becomes very common with increasing age.
Fitness level: Back pain most commonly occurs among the people who are physically not fit. The weak back might not support the spine properly.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy can also cause low back pain as a result of pelvic changes and changes in weight.
Weight gain: Overweight, obesity or sudden weight gain can put extra stress on the back and can lead to lower back pain.
Genetic Factors: Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, have a genetic component says that genetic factors can also cause low back pain.
Mental health factors: Pre-existing mental health problems like anxiety and depression might also trigger back pain.
Backpack overload with school books in children can also cause pain as it supplies more strain to the lower back and causes muscle fatigue. Lower back pain seems to be more common in women than in men, possibly due to some hormonal factors. Stress, tension, and mood disorders can also trigger the causes of back pain.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.