Back pain is a common reason people visit the doctor or miss work and school. It is also a leading cause of job-related disability in the world. If you have back pain, it can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (acute pain), but sometimes it can last longer than three months (chronic pain). Most back pain improves with conservative treatments such as hot or cold compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers. If your pain does not improve with home remedies, you may need to see your NYPT Health & Rehab services provider for further treatment.
What causes lower back pain?
The discs in the lower back region of your spine are prone to injury, and the risk increases as you age. When the outer membrane of the disc tears, the nucleus pushes through the opening and extends outside its normal position. Herniated discs can occur after lifting something or twisting your back. It can also happen as you age due to wear and tear in the discs.
When a herniated disc presses on a nerve root, besides pain, you may have other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness in the muscles served by the affected nerve. However, not everyone with a herniated disc has symptoms; most of the time, physicians notice a bulged disc during spinal imaging.
Muscle and ligament strains
Excess activity such as repeated heavy lifting can strain your back muscles and spinal ligaments. Other times this may occur due to sudden awkward movement. While anyone can strain their muscles and ligaments, the risk is higher for people in poor physical condition. Symptoms of muscle strain include muscle spasms, pain, and stiffness in the lower back. Rest and physical therapy can help improve these symptoms.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing or constriction of the spinal column, pressing or compressing the spinal cord and nerves. It often occurs due to wear and tear in your spine as you age, but some people naturally have a narrow spinal space. The bony spurs formed at the end of the vertebrae can press on nerve roots, causing symptoms such as cramping, numbness, and weakness. You may notice that the pain worsens when standing or walking.
Abnormal spine curvature
Lower back pain may also be due to abnormal spine curvature due to scoliosis, lordosis, and kyphosis. These spine problems are congenital, meaning they are first diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. Since the spine is curved, it causes pain and poor posture, putting pressure on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and vertebrae.
Other conditions associated with lower back pain include arthritis, spondylitis, fibromyalgia, and spondylosis. Health conditions such as ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, cancer, and endometriosis can also result in back pain.
Although back pain is common, it is essential to seek medical attention, especially if it is severe or lasts more than three months. That is important for your physician to establish the cause of your pain and recommend treatment to alleviate the discomfort. If you have a sore back, visit your NYPY Health & Rehab provider for treatment to improve your quality of life.