Causes of Lower Back Pain: When to see your Orthopedic Physician

Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit their orthopedic physician.

According to research, 80% of the population experiences back pain at some point in life. In order to make sure that you and your loved ones never experience serious back pain and the complications that result from, it is important to keep a check on the back problems. There are a lot of factors that can cause lower back pain and negligence can only make this worse. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of lower back pain and learn when it is important to see your orthopedic doctors.

Why back pain is a common ailment?

The back is designed with complex structure of ligaments, muscles, joints, and bones which can easily become strained causing back pain. While in most cases sports’ injuries are the major cause of back pain, sometimes simplest movements like heavy lifting can also strain the muscles in your back causing back pain. Lower back pain occurs in the lumbar region and usually is the most common types of back pain in adults.

Types of lower back pain

Lower back pain can be categorized into two main types:
  • Mechanical pain: Also known as the axial pain, mechanical lower back pain primarily originates from strained ligaments, joints, and muscles around the spine.
  • Radicular pain: This form of pain occurs due to inflamed or damaged spinal root nerve. It is typically felt on one side of the body and is identified as a sharp stabbing pain in the lower back. Patients may also experience numbness or weakness in the pain region.

Causes of lower back pain

Common causes of lower back pain include but are not limited to:

  • heavy object lifting
  • bad posture
  • too much stress on lower back through sudden movements
  • Sports injuries

Other causes of lower back pain

There are a number of factors that can cause lower back pain. Here are some of the serious causes that require immediate orthopedic treatment:

Lumbar Herniated Disc: The lumbar disc of the spine contains a jelly-like center that can sometimes break through the outer layer and cause nerve root pain. The disc has millions of nerve fibers that can get damaged due to the smallest tear in the disc wall and cause excruciating pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease: This is another common medical cause of lower back pain in adults. With age, the discs lose the hydration that is required to maintain their health causing tears in the disc walls which leads to pain. The discs can sometimes collapse causing stenosis, which can also cause pain (see below).

Spinal Stenosis: Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal that contains the nerve roots. The narrowing causes pain.

Osteoarthritis: Also known as a degenerative joint disease, this condition is a result of wear and tear in the facet joints and the discs. It can cause pain, instability, inflammation and, in some cases, stenosis. This disease progresses with age and causes dull lower back pain in the patients.

Deformity: Scoliosis can cause varying degrees of curvature in patients. This curvature can also lead to lower back pain if it impacts the facet joints or the discs.

Compression fracture: This type of fracture occurs in a cylindrical vertebra causing sudden pain. The fracture is common in old people or people with osteoporosis.

In most cases, it is hard to tell what’s causing consistent lower back pain. If your lower back pain doesn’t go away on its own or fails to respond to exercise or rest, then it’s time to see your orthopedic specialist.

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