Almost everyone experiences lower back pain at some point in their lives. For some, it’s just a slight discomfort in the morning, while others may experience a debilitating pain that just won’t go away. Understanding what causes back pain can help you minimize the symptoms or possibly eliminate them altogether. Below is useful information to help educate you on lower back pain.
- Causes: Lower back pain can be caused by a number of things. As we get older, our spines go through degenerative changes. Some people begin experiencing these changes as young as 30; however, lower pain back caused by aging is typically not debilitating and does not interfere with day-to-day life. Over-activity is another common cause of lower back pain. This usually happens when the muscles and ligament fibers in the back haven’t been used in some time. This type of lower back pain normally dissipates in a few days. If you experience back pain that does not go away within a few days, you may be experiencing a disk injury, such as a tear or herniation.
- Symptoms: The severity of lower back pain varies from person to person. Some people may experience a dull, aching pain, while others feel a sharp, stabbing pain. When someone with back pain bends or lifts, the pain is often exacerbated. Typically back pain will come and go, worsening with stress. The pain usually radiates from the back toward the buttock or outer hip area.
- Diagnosis: It’s important to see a doctor if you start experiencing lower back pain. Your doctor will want to discuss your symptoms and medical history. He or she will also examine your back to determine where the pain is coming from. In order to confirm the cause of your back pain, your doctor will probably order other tests, which may include x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, bone scans and bone density tests.
- Treatment: Your doctor will likely recommend either medication, physical medicine or surgery to treat your lower back pain. Medications often prescribed for lower pain back include aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, narcotic pain medications and even steroids. Physical medicine may include physical therapy, braces, chiropractic therapy, traction and other exercise-based programs. If nonsurgical treatment options have proved unsuccessful, surgery is often a last resort and should only be considered once your doctor has determined the source of your lower back pain.
While lower back pain is usually a harmless, nagging pain, it can also be debilitating if it gets bad enough. By seeing a doctor soon after your back pain begins, you can work to alleviate the symptoms and begin a treatment plan. You can also help minimize potential pain by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.