Lower Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Updated: Jul 5
How to relieve lower back pain is one of the most searched health topics on the Internet as it is one of the most common forms of back injuries. They can be mild, annoying, and some of them can be either severe or debilitating. Back pain can start slowly, or they can suddenly set in and get worse over time and gradually subside as the body heals. The good news is that back pain, for most cases, while a major inconvenience, is not an urgent medical problem. In fact, back pain usually resolves itself without causing major problems and does not usually need to be treated. However, it is always best to get checked by a doctor to determine the necessary treatments. In the next sections, we’ll take a deeper look into the anatomy of the lower back, as well as the causes, types, and treatments.
The Lower Back
The lower back is remarkably well structured - with a complex network of interconnected bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles all working together to provide support, strength, and mobility. This complex structure also makes the lower back susceptible to injury and pain.
Lower Back Muscles
The lower back supports the weight of the torso and offers flexibility for everyday movements such as bending and twisting. The lower back muscles include the so-called erectile spine, which supports the spine, and the extensor muscles. The flexor muscles are attached to the front of the spine and allow you to bend your lower back and lift objects. Slanted muscles sit on the sides of our spine, helping us to rotate our spine or hold the right posture. These are the muscles that work together to support the spine, keep the body upright, and allow it to move, rotate and bend in many directions. The tendon attaches the muscles to the cervical spine and the muscle to each vertebra. The ligament holds the vertebrae and discs together, and this structure helps to limit excessive movement that could damage the spinal cord.
The Lumbar Spine
The lower back's lumbar spine is known as the lumbar vertebra. The lumbar spine carries the biomechanical load that arises when moving. The lumbar spine has five vertebrae, each acting like a cushioning gel wrapped in a tough membrane that acts as a shock absorber. The vertebrae also have two cartilage facet joints in the back and on the intervertebral discs at each facet joint that enable the spine to bend and twist securely.
Types of Back Pain
Normally, back pain is defined as a kind of pain that lasts for more than three months and usually affects a strain on the spine. Some types of pain are mechanical and last from 6 weeks to 3 months, and at this point, medical treatment may be considered. Back pain can be classified as acute, sub-acute, and chronic. Chronic back pain is defined as pain that lasts 12 weeks or more, sub-acute pain lasts 4 to 12 weeks, while acute pain lasts 4 weeks or less. Most acute back pain is caused by injuries to muscles, ligaments, joints, and discs. Chronic back pain can develop with persistent symptoms lasting a year or more, especially in the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. Back pain lasting more than two weeks can lead to muscle weakness, as there is a tendency not to use the muscles, whether painful or not.
Back pain can develop without a clear cause, but common causes include muscle sprain, joint injury, or infection of the spine.
The body reacts to these injuries with inflammatory healing reactions such as pain, and inflammation of the muscles, ligaments, and joints. Here are some common causes of lower back pain:
Chronic stress can also lead to muscle weakness and back pain, and this process leads to muscle weakness, which leads to more back pain as the back muscles are less able to hold up the spine.
In the case of injury or inflammation, the large back muscle can become spasmodic. In some cases, it can even lead to back pain and considerable movement restrictions. Stress causes the back muscles to tighten in combat or flight, depriving the muscles of the energy they need to support the spine.
An unhealthy posture occurs when the curves are overstretched, which is known as lordosis or fluctuation. Weak abdominal muscles lead to pain in the hip flexor muscle, which increases the curvature of the lower back. Muscle imbalances can cause weight to be unevenly distributed across the entire spine, and this muscle imbalance can lead to back pain.
Back pain can involve a variety of symptoms, and understanding how the pain develops helps determine the cause. Back pain is the most common form of injury in the United States, but it can be different for people as some may experience lack of mobility, stiffness, pain, fatigue or muscle spasms, when a particular muscle or joint is strained. A degenerated or torn lumbar disc can also feel like a pulled muscle, and it can be difficult to determine the cause of pain because this type of pain is not limited to the lower back and can also cause pain in other parts of the body such as the shoulders, hips, legs, knees, feet, arms, or neck.
Soft tissues in the spine also play a key role in back pain, so treating back pain prevents chronic back pain from developing and reduces the risk of long-term complications such as arthritis, spinal cord injury, and nerve damage. These are the common conditions resulting from these symptoms that are related to lower back pain:
Sciatica typically occurs on one side of the body. This type of pain occurs when the nerve roots in the spine become inflamed and can follow a nerve root pattern such as in the buttocks or legs. This specific feeling can be associated with numbness and weakness.
Herniated discs can be the result of injury to the spinal cord, spine, or even the muscles and ligaments themselves.
A chiropractor or a spine specialist will talk to you about your medical history and symptoms and will perform a physical examination to determine the cause of your back pain to help you develop an action plan for long-term treatment and recovery from the pain and inflammation. The focus is on treating the symptoms, not only its cause. A thorough diagnosis is important to lay the foundations for appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Treatment options can be selected to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient and his health based on the best medical procedures available today. If back pain persists for a few weeks and makes daily work more difficult, a back pain specialist or doctor will assess the condition and inform you about treatment options for chronic back pain. With imaging, tests, and physical examinations, your chiropractor will begin by diagnosing the cause of your back pain and drawing up a plan to relieve it. Next, the doctor will talk to you about how to prevent the same problem from recurring.
It is important to get a diagnosis from a chiropractor or a back pain specialist before starting your treatment. This can help your doctor rule out diseases such as infections or tumors that affect the back and clarify questions about the cause and symptoms of your back pain.
If you have lower back pain, know your treatment options and if you are wondering how to treat lower back pain, there are several non-surgical treatment options that may help to alleviate your back pain. If your back pain persists, you will need to explore treatment options such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, manual therapy and physical therapy. Find the best treatment option for your specific type of back injury or pain.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Ice and heat compresses can help treat low back pain and allow some people greater mobility. Many people find that using an ice-cold pack reduces pain and swelling. Wrap the ice in a thin towel before placing it on your body so it doesn't damage your skin.
Physical therapy for back pain includes passive and active therapies that help patients build core muscle strength, make the spine more flexible, and help them find the right posture. Muscle strength and mobility are indispensable to maintain a neutral position of the spine. Patients with back pain tend to develop tense leg muscles that can cause lower back pain. There are some treatments that have emerged as a result of research into the effects of physical therapy on the back and lower back. Physical therapy can relax trapped nerves and strengthen the core muscles to reduce the risk of developing back pain later in life. An experienced physician will be able to identify and treat the root cause of a person's pain to help him recover and stay healthy.
Exercise can be one of the most effective methods to quickly treat back pain and help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. When back pain occurs, people often think that complete rest will ease the pain but try to stay as physically active as possible, as this may reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Stretching is one of the most effective treatments for relieving chronic and acute pain and preventing future minor problems. Patients with back pain may find that simple stretches at home loosen the muscles around the spine, relieving tension in the back and reducing nerve compression.
Acupuncture involves carefully inserting fine, sterile needles into specific parts of the body, and chemicals that can kill or stimulate the release of natural pain.
Treating Lower Back Pain
There are different treatment options to alleviate the symptoms of back pain, some of which are less invasive than others. Remember that it takes time for many of these treatments to take full effect, and it is generally expected that your doctor will take a graduated approach to care for you. You can also see a healthcare provider who specializes in spinal manipulation, chiropractic adjustment, or manual therapy. To understand your condition better and know the best treatments for your specific condition, contact Natural Care Chiropractic today and seek a chiropractor for the right diagnosis.