Lower back pain can be quite a debilitating issue that even young people experience. Lower back pain is not just caused by an injury or just a given. It can be caused by a variety of problems. The spinal muscles are a complex, interconnected network of nerves, bones, discs and tendons in the lumbar spine.
Generally back pain stems from one of the following issues:
- The large nerve roots in the lower back connected to the upper thighs may be irritated
- The smaller nerves that supply the low back may be irritated
- The large paired lower back muscles (erector spinae) may be strained
- The bones, ligaments or joints may be damaged
- An intervertebral disc may be degenerating
Any of these structures connected to the back can cause pain in the lower region. It can even cause pain that radiates to other parts of the body. Many of the problems people have with lower back pain causes muscle spasms which can be incredibly painful and even cause disability in severe cases.
The truth is lower back pain is quite common. The symptoms vary quite a bit from patient-to-patient. This can be caused by a simple strain in one of the lower back muscles. Or a degenerating disc can be the root case, which may only cause mild, intermittent discomfort. Identifying the symptoms and getting a diagnosis that pinpoints the underlying cause of the pain is the first step in obtaining effective pain relief.
In adults, certain causes of back pain differ from those that cause it in younger people. Those between the ages of 30-60 are more likely to experience back pain from the disc space itself. This can be referred to as lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disc disease. It can also be caused by a back muscle strain or soft tissue strain. Adults over the age of 60 are also more likely to suffer from pain related to joint degeneration, conditions known as osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis.
So when does lower back pain merit treatment?
Most cases do not require urgent care but anyone should see a doctor if the pain persists for a long period of time or if the pain begins as a result of trauma. The pain can also be associated the the following symptoms. If this the case, you should see your doctor right away.
- Fever and chills
- Unexplained recent weight loss
- Significant leg weakness
- Sudden bowel and/or bladder incontinence—either difficulty passing urine or having a bowel movement, or loss of control of urination or bowel movement
- Severe, continuous abdominal pain
In cases where immediate treatment is a required, physicians will investigate possible serious causes of the pain, including any type of spinal infection, tumor or fracture.