Low back pain (or lumbago) is a common musculoskeletal disorder affecting 80% of people at some point in their lives. It accounts for more sick leave and disability than any other medical condition. It can be acute, subacute or chronic in duration. Most often, the symptoms of low back pain show significant improvement within a few weeks from onset with conservative measures.
One method of classifying lower back pain is by the duration of symptoms: acute (less than 4 weeks), sub acute (4–12 weeks), chronic (more than 12 weeks). Determination of the underlying cause is usually made through a combination of a medical history, physical examination, and, when necessary, diagnostic testing, such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Provider Note: Low Back Pain attributes for over half of my patient base. Children can develop low back pain from the combination of the activity they are participating in and growth spurts. It is very common for adults to develop low back pain for many different reasons. Quoting an excerpt from Web MD, “Most low back pain is triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, and injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. Many experts believe that over time muscle strain can lead to an overall imbalance in the spinal structure. This leads to a constant tension on the muscles, ligaments, bones, and discs, making the back more prone to injury or reinjury.”
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 most 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 discs often brought on by repeated vibration or motion (as during machine use or sport activity, or when lifting improperly), or by a sudden heavy strain or increased pressure to the lower-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, 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.
- Spinal deformities, including curvature problems such as severe scoliosis or kyphosis.