According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the most common cause of job-related disability is back pain. The discomfort it causes can be debilitating and restrictive enough to disrupt your daily routine. Dr. Bart Gatz in Greenacres can help you find relief for lower back pain so you can resume your normal life.
80 percent of Americans will probably experience back pain at one point in their life. It is more common among older people and is linked to physical activity, sprains, strains, and other medical conditions.
When back pain persists for longer than three months, it is considered chronic back pain.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is associated with damages or injuries of the vertebrae disks, bony lumbar spine, spine ligaments, lower back muscles, spinal cord nerves, and pelvic organs. It can be triggered by poor body mechanics when performing strenuous tasks, lifting heavy objects, or making sudden movements.
Specific conditions that may cause lower back pain include:
- Spinal stenosis
- Cancer of the spinal cord
- Kidney and bladder infections
- Herniated, slipped, or ruptured disc
- Spondylosis: a degenerative disease that causes loss of normal spinal function
Some people are born with abnormal spine curvatures, which may increase their risk of developing lower back pain later in life. Women may also suffer from back pain during pregnancy or as a result of conditions like endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
Back pain can manifest in the back and in some cases, extend to the buttocks and legs. Any ache in your back area should alert you to nerve damage, injury, or back pain. Sometimes, the pain will resolve on its own after a few days.
However, if it persists or you experience it along with the following symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as you can.
Common signs of lower back pain include:
- Shooting or stabbing pain that worsens with standing, bending, lifting, or walking
- Weight loss, fever, and muscle ache
- Swelling or inflammation on the back
- Pain that persists even when you lie down
- Pain that radiates down the legs or below the knees
- Urinary incontinence or difficulty urinating
- Numbness around the buttocks
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Don’t ignore your symptoms.
Risk factors for Lower Back Pain
Some factors can make you vulnerable to lower back pain. They include age, sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, strenuous job, psychological conditions, and smoking,
The best way to protect yourself from lower back pain is to address these risk factors by, for example, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding exposure to tobacco.
Treating Lower Back Pain
Apart from staying away from the risk factors of lower back pain, you can also try home remedies and medical treatments to alleviate pain and improve your symptoms. If the back pain is mild, you can try resting from your stressful job, applying heat and ice to your back, or taking over-the-counter pain medication.
You can also get a back massage or take a warm bath to relieve pain.
Typical medical treatments of chronic back pain include physical therapy, medicine, and surgery. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroid injections.
Your treatment regimen will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how long you’ve had them.
If untreated, lower back pain can significantly reduce your range of motion and lower your ability to perform routine tasks. However, with proper care and treatment, you can manage the symptoms and even make a full recovery.
If you experience persistent, debilitating back pain that won’t recede, consult Dr. Bart Gatz, MD, and the team of professionals at the American Interventional Pain Institute in Greenacres for medical assistance.