Lower Back Pain
WHAT CAUSES LOWER BACK PAIN?
It's believed that imbalances in the spinal structure often result from prolonged muscle strain, causing continuous tension on the discs, ligaments, muscles and bones. This tension is problematic, as it makes the back more susceptible to injury or re-injury. In general, any injuries to the discs, ligaments, and muscles that support the spine may lead to various forms of lower back pain.
WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE LOW BACK?
The low back, or lumbar area, serves a number of important functions for the human body.
These functions include:
- Structural support
- Protection of certain body tissues
Structural Support and Movement: When we stand, the lower back is functioning to support the weight of the upper body. When we bend, extend, or rotate at the waist, the lower back is involved in the movement. Therefore, injury to the structures which are important for weight bearing, such as the bony spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, often can be detected when the body is standing erect or used in various movements.
Protection of Body Tissues: Protecting the soft tissues of the nervous system and spinal cord, as well as nearby organs of the pelvis and abdomen is a critical function of the lumbar spine and its adjacent muscles.
The causes of pain in the low back, or lumbosacral region, tend to add on to one another. For example, after straining muscles, you are likely to walk or move in different ways to avoid pain or to use muscles that aren't sore. That can cause you to strain other muscles that don't usually move that way.
THE COMMON CAUSES OF LOW BACK PAIN ARE:
- Injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments, facet joints, and the sacroiliac joints.
- Pressure on nerve roots in the spinal canal. Nerve root compression can be caused by:
- A herniated disc, often brought on by repeated vibration or motion (during machine use, sports activity, or when lifting improperly.) This may also occur due to a sudden heavy strain or increased pressure to the lower back.
- Osteoarthritis (joint degeneration), which typically develops with age. When osteoarthritis affects the small facet joints in the spine, it can lead to back pain. Osteoarthritis in other joints, such as the hips, can cause you to limp or to change the way you walk. This can also lead to back pain.
- Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are vertebra defects that can allow a vertebra to slide over another when aggravated by certain activities.
- Spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal, which typically develops with age.
- Fractures of the vertebrae caused by significant force, such as from an auto or bicycle accident, a direct blow to the spine, or compressing the spine by falling onto the buttocks or head.
- Spinal deformities, including curvature problems such as severe scoliosis or kyphosis.
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