What is Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is the number one cause of disability worldwide. About 80% of the US population will experience some type of lower back pain at some point in their life. Even though lower back pain is such a problem in today’s world, it is often difficult to say with certainty what is causing it.
Below, you will find a list of things that may cause lower back pain:
Congenital disorders are present at birth and they may or may not cause pain.
- Spinal irregularities: These are curvatures in the spine that change the weight bearing position of the body. Lower back pain usually develops due to compensations to the body and could be on one side or the other.
- Spinabifida: Incomplete fusion of a vertebrae. There are different presentations of spina bifida with different severity. Durnig pregnancy or shortly after birth, your doctor will diagnose the severe forms of spinabifida.
- Sprain/Strains: These refer to momentary forces placed on a specific ligament/ muscle or tissue that caused it to overload. The severity of the sprain or strain will determine the appropriate treatment. Treatment could vary from ice, rest and potentially surgery.
- Spasms: These happen when a muscle is unconsciously contracted. These can develop for many reasons. It could be a compensation of improper biomechanics of the body, muscle imbalances, dehydration or nerve damage. Depending on the cause of the muscles spasms, the treatment will vary greatly.
- Traumas: Traumas are always follows an event. A fall, a car accident or a motion that started the lower back pain. This includes anything from an external object puncture to fractures of the bones.
- Disc degeneration: Between each vertebrae in the spine, there is a disk. It’s job is to provide flexibility and weight absorption to the spine. Discs do not have a large blood supply which makes it difficult for them to get the nutrients they need. They do so through the process of imbibition. Imbibition is a repetitive motion to applies and relieves pressure off the disk. This “pumps” nutrients into the middle of the disc which allows it to remain well hydrated. Restricted motion will intrerrupt imbubition and cause discs dehydration. As a result, they lose their height and flexibility. This is called disc degeneration. Depending on the severity it could be asymptomatic, meaning you won’t know its happening, or generalized non-specific lower back pain. Patients with lower back pain due to degenerative discs, usually feel better in the mornings because the body was not bearing weight and the discs had a chance to rehydrate.
- Spondylosis: The term spondylosis refers to the overall degeneration of the spine. It is commonly seen in elders and causes generalized lower back pain.
- Arthritis: There are several types of arthritis. Ranging from osteoarthritis which is caused by chronically overloading a weight bearing joint, to inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis has many presentations but is highly related to one’s lifestyle and genetic predispositions.
- Infections: Infection in the lower back are not common. However, they remain one of the reasons one might develop lower back pain. The development of symptoms may or may not be gradual, but usually associated with a fever.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis isvthe decrease in bone density mineralization. This may cause lower back pain due to fractures or otherwise could go unnoticed. It could be caused by medication, hormonal imbalances and kidney disease. A full evaluation of the reasons of osteoporosis is required.
- Kidney stones: Caused by an accumulation of waste in the kidneys that crystalizes into stones. Most patients experience sharp lower back pain on one side when the stones move around within the kidney.
- Endometriosis: It describes the build up of uterine tissue in areas other than the uterus, causing cramps to be exponentially more intense to women. Laprascopic surgery has been helpful but not always a certain fix. Deep muscle work to the abdominal hip flexors has been helpful in reducing the intensity of the pain.
- Fibromyalgia: Scientists don’t fully understant fibromyalgia. Chronic widespread pain and chronic fatigue are only some of the symptoms of patients with fibromyalgia.
- Tumors: There are many different types of tumors that could cause lower back pain. It is urgent to seek medical attention if the pain is excruciating, wakes you up at night, associated with unwitting weight loss and/or developed rapidly.
- Pregnancy: A woman might gain up to 35lbs during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. This change in weight, casues a shift in the bodies’ center of gravity. The weight bearing positions and biomechanics of the body alter and compensate with irregular postures and movements. These changes quite often result in lower back pain for the pregnant mother.
- Weight gain: Lower back pain accompanies excessive weight gain, especially when it happens rapidly. Gaining weight causes biomechanical and biochemical changes within the body that will make an individual more prone to pain and especially lower back pain.
Risk Factors For Having Lower Back Pain
As with everything, some risk factors can help determine the outcome of lower back pain. The points mentioned below influence the frequency, severity, and chronicity of lower back pain.
- Fitness levels: The amount and type of exercise one engages is very important to each case. Studies show that lower back pain is most commonly found in people with no physical activity. On the other hand, patients overly exert themselves every now and then, are more prone to develop lower back pain due to an injury.
- Weight gain: When someone gains weight and in a short period of time, the stress levels applied to the body change. This happens due to unequal weight distribution that applies a larger amount of stress to the joints. This will affect the way the body moves and functions. What complicates the situation are the changes that occur on the inside of the body. Hormonal and other physiological changes take place, that make one more susceptible to pain, depression, stress and more weight gain.
- Genetics: In recent years, there has been a shift in what was once attributed to genetics. Recent discoveries show that our behaviours and environment influence what part of our genetic make up will be expressed. Disorders like Ankylosis Spondylitis are attributed to the gene HLA-B27 but the reality is, that you may be found positive for that gene yet not express ankylosis spondylitis.
- Poor biomechanics: When we are toddlers, we innately know how to use our bodies the right way, efficiently. As we age, our priorities change. We tend to do things the way it takes the least amount of time and effort, so we change the way we use our bodies. This puts us in a biomechanical disadvantage with an increased rate of wear and tear.
How to prevent lower back pain
Even though there is NOT one thing that will 100% avoid lower back pain, there are things that will help you minimize your risks.
- Engaging in regular exercise that incorporates the whole body.
- Maintain proper balance between your muscles.
- Perform a stretching routine on a regular basis
- A healthy diet with a variety of foods goes a long way.
- Have PEAKiropractic for all your chiropractic needs, to make sure you’re functioning at your best.
If you or someone you know needs help with any of the above points, we would be happy to help!
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