Low back pain is a common medical complaint, partly because so many things can cause it. Fortunately, our team treats all sorts of low back pain, including pain that stems from the six leading causes described in this post.
If you suffer from low back pain, you have a lot of company. Low back pain affects as many as 8 out of 10 Americans during their lifetimes, and worldwide, it’s a major cause of disability.
At Spine Center Atlanta, our team offers cutting-edge treatments for low back pain, including rehabilitation services, nonsurgical treatments, and minimally invasive surgical options to help you get back to the activities you love. Before any treatment can be provided, though, it’s essential to know what’s causing your symptoms. Here are some of the most common culprits.
#1: Herniated discs
In between each pair of spine bones (vertebrae) is a tough, spongy disc that offers shock absorption and supports your spine’s flexibility. Normally, the border of each disc is completely contained within the edges of your vertebrae; but sometimes, a disc can shift, sticking out beyond those edges.
When that happens, every time you move your spine, the disc can become pinched or compressed, leading to nerve irritation and inflammation. This is a herniated disc, and without treatment, the disc can tear or rupture, leaving little fragments — and a lot more pain — behind.
Falls, car accidents, and other injuries can cause herniated discs, but there are other causes, too, like:
- Being overweight
- Being pregnant
- Spending lots of time on your feet
- Spending lots of time sitting
- Poor posture
- Age-related wear-and-tear on your spine components
Herniated discs happen more often in the lower back and neck, the two most mobile parts of your spine.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, exiting your lower spine where it divides into two branches, each of which travels down a leg. Sciatica happens when this nerve is pinched or irritated.
In addition to dull aching in your lower back, sciatica can cause symptoms anywhere along the entire length of the nerve, including pain, numbness, and tingling in your buttock or leg. While mild sciatica may clear up with TLC, it can also worsen, leading to permanent nerve damage and muscle weakness that impairs your mobility.
#3: Degenerative spine conditions
Years of wear-and-tear take a big toll on your spine (just like the rest of your body). Over time, conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease (a gradual flattening of your discs) lead to a decrease in spine flexibility and increases in pain and inflammation.
Quitting smoking, staying active, practicing good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or at least postpone these problems. Seeking medical treatment at the first sign of pain is also important for slowing the progress of degenerative conditions.
#4: Muscle strain
Muscle strain is an acute form of pain that typically happens suddenly, often after strenuous effort that’s outside your normal range of activities. Gardening activities, household chores, furniture moving, and lifting heavy objects are all common causes of muscle strain.
But you don’t have to be active to have strained back muscles. Sitting or being immobile for long periods can also strain muscles, and so can poor posture (like all those hours spent hunched over a computer). Falls, sports injuries, and car accidents can also cause muscle strain, along with strain on the ligaments and tendons that support your spine.
Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine that causes the spine to grow into an unnatural curved shape. That unusual curvature puts extra strain on your spine joints, muscles, and ligaments.
Very mild forms of scoliosis may cause no symptoms, but for others, the curvature leads to chronic low back pain. Other symptoms include stiffness, numbness, and a loss of mobility in your spine.
#6: Spinal stenosis
Stenosis means narrowing, and in this condition, the space inside your spinal canal grows narrower, leaving less room for the nerves inside the canal. Most stenosis is caused by age-related changes in your spine, like bone spurs or ligament thickening.
As the canal space shrinks, the nerves inside the canal compress and inflammation sets in. The result: chronic back pain, numbness, and weakness in your legs.
Find relief for your aching back
Spine Center Atlanta is a leading provider of low back pain treatment, with locations in Atlanta, Savannah, Conyers, Forest Park, Augusta, Macon, and Decatur, Georgia. Our team is skilled in an array of treatments that can be tailored to the specific cause of your pain, as well as your symptoms, your lifestyle, and other factors.
Don’t ignore your low back pain. To learn how our team can help you find relief for your painful symptoms, book an appointment online or over the phone with Spine Center Atlanta today.