A Complete Guide to Lower Back Pain

July 15, 2019

Lower back pain may seem like a mundane issue, but a pain that is chronic or severe can quickly become a serious problem. Experiencing persistent lower back pain at night or dealing with lower back pain when walking, running or working out is very common. If you've had a past back injury or suffer from an underlying medical condition, frequent lower back pain is almost a given.

Learning more about what causes lower back pain is often the first step towards seeking treatment. As you learn more, you'll be better able to relieve lower back pain. This ensures that you'll are able to take a more active role in devising a pain-management strategy suited to your specific needs.

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

There are numerous issues which may cause back pain or discomfort. An accurate diagnosis is essential for ensuring that treatment efforts are able to be as effective as possible. Lower back pain, when sitting or bending over, is typically caused by an injury or an underlying medical condition.

Types of Lower Back Injuries

Muscle Strain

The vast majority of all back pain is the result of minor injury to back muscles or connective tissue. Muscle strain is typically caused by over-exertion, but sitting for prolonged periods or even sleeping on the wrong mattress may cause the back muscles to engage, resulting in a strain. While minor backaches and pains may self resolve even without treatment, acute discomfort, such as experiencing back pain when breathing, may require medical treatment.

Herniated Disks

The spine is comprised of a number of irregular bones, known as vertebrae, which are separated by disks. These disks serve to cushion and protect the bones although they can be damaged or even ruptured due to improper lifting, over-exertion, and even external trauma. Severe back pain that limits the full range of motion, experiencing lower back pain when running, jogging, or walking may all be signs of a disk-related injury.

Medical Conditions Related to Lower Back Pain

Arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the joints. Arthritis can cause lower back pain when bending over or even lower back pain when sitting.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This condition involves a narrowing of the spinal canal, an issue which can place pressure on the nerves. Spinal stenosis may be caused by other conditions like arthritis or it may simply be the result of the aging process.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the spinal disk can result in decreased range of motion, as well as irritation of the nerve. Damaged spinal disks are a common cause of sciatica, a condition which is characterized by pain in the lower back or leg.

Preventing Back Pain

Efforts to prevent back pain can often be far more effective than strategies for dealing with pain and discomfort following an injury. Practicing good lifting techniques whenever dealing with a heavy object, stretching in order to prevent lower back pain when running or working out or using a back-brace or other support device in order to reduce the risk of an injury can all be very helpful. Failing to prevent a back injury often means that there may be no other choice but to use medication or seek out other medical treatments in order to find relief.

Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the most common methods for dealing with muscle strain and other injuries. It can be used to both decrease pain and increase function. Active physical therapy for back pain includes a combination of hamstring stretching exercises, dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises, and low impact aerobics.

Over the Counter (OTC) Pain Relief

Anti-inflammatory medications that can help with pain management are a common component of many pain-relief strategies. Minor lower back pain when walking, sitting, or during light exercise can often be effectively treated with no more than OTC pain relief.

Prescription Medication/Injections

For more significant discomfort, such as severe back pain when breathing, OTC medication may not be enough. Drugs and medications that are only available with a prescription can provide more significant and lasting relief. Injections by your doctor may also be used.

Seeking Relief From Lower Back Pain

Dealing with back pain following an injury can often be a major undertaking. Seeking care, assistance, and pain-management resources from the right medical provider can go a long way towards alleviating discomfort and ensuring that those who suffer from back pain can enjoy superior relief. A qualified pain-management specialist can be an indispensable resource, one that often plays a major role in the recovery process or when formulating a pain-management strategy.

If you have any questions about back pain or need to be professionally treated, please contact our team at Greater Austin Pain Center. We'll get you in touch with a professional pain management doctor who can diagnose the cause of your lower back pain, and provide an individualized treatment plan to treat it.

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