woman holding her back in pain

Lower Back Pain

According to the American Spinal Decompression Association, low back pain (LBP) affects at least 80% of us at some time throughout our lives. It is usually recurrent, and subsequent episodes tend to increase in severity. LBP is usually common in individuals who lead sedentary lives and in those who engage in manual labor. LBP can occur at any age but is most prevalent during the third to sixth decades of life.

The functions of the low back, or lumbar area, include structural support, movement, and protection of certain body tissues. Pain in the low back can be a result of conditions affecting the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area. Dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint, or SI joint, is also a large cause of low back and/or leg pain. The leg pain can be particularly difficult, and may feel similar to sciatica or pain caused by a lumbar disc herniation.

Less common causes of low back pain include Paget’s disease of bone, bleeding or infection in the pelvis, infection of the cartilage and/or bone of the spine, aneurysm of the aorta, and shingles. Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.16.49 PM

The diagnosis of low back pain involves a review of the history of the illness and underlying medical conditions as well as a physical examination. It’s essential that a complete story of the back pain be reviewed including injury history, aggravating and alleviating conditions, associated symptoms (fever, numbness, tingling, incontinence, etc.), as well as the duration and progression of symptoms. Aside from routine abdomen and extremity evaluations, rectal and pelvic examinations may eventually be required as well. Further tests for diagnosis of low back pain can be required including blood and urine tests, plain film X-ray tests, CAT scanning, MRI scanning, bone scanning, and tests of the nerves such as electromyograms (EMG) and nerve conduction velocities (NCV).

The good news is that LBP can be treated! As described above, the treatment depends on the precise cause of the low back pain. Each patient must be individually evaluated and managed in the context of the underlying background health status and activity level.

The outlook for low back pain absolutely depends on its precise cause. For example, acute strain injuries generally heal entirely with minimal treatment. On the other hand, bony abnormalities that are irritating the spinal cord can require significant surgical repair and the outlook depends on the surgical result. Long-term optimal results often involve exercise rehabilitation programs that can involve physical therapists.

For more information about how you can get relief for life from your recurring low back pain, contact us on (713) 461-8555 or email us at info@clickmdpatients.com.

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