Low Back Pain

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What Can Go Wrong with Your Lumbar Spine?

Most cases of low back pain are associated with injury to the muscles, joints, discs, or ligaments within your lumbar spine. Your body may react to different injuries by simply mobilizing inflammatory healing responses, which can cause severe pain. Usually, there’s an overlap of nerve supply across the muscles, ligaments, discs, and a significant number of spinal structures. In this case, your brain may not be able to accurately sense the source of the cause of your pain. For instance, a torn lumbar disc is likely to feel just like a pulled muscle.

Both incidents create inflammation, as well as painful muscle spasms in the same location. The pain enables orthopedic specialists such as Dr. Philip Meinhardt M.D. at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine to determine the cause and provide the most appropriate treatment options.

What are the Common Causes of Lower Back Pain?

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Major causes of low back pain include:

  • Mechanical tissue injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries

The above-named injuries may include:

  • Compression of your nerve roots
  • Damage to your intervertebral discs
  • Improper movement of your spinal joints

A pulled or torn muscle and ligament is the most common causes of lower back pain. You can suddenly experience a low back strain or sprain from repetitive movements, as explained here:

  1. Sprains can occur when you overstretch or tear your ligaments. These ligaments form a vital connection between bones in your body.
  2. Strains may occur when you stretch muscles too far to the point of tearing. In this regard, the affected muscles can get damaged in the process of stretching.

Whichever case affects your lower back, rest assured that the symptoms and treatment options are the same.

Here are common types of strain and sprain:

  • Twisting your spine while lifting heavy objects
  • Too much stress on your low back caused by a sudden movement
  • Prolonged poor posture
  • Injuries sustained from sports

Even though sprains and strains may not look that serious or cause long-lasting pain, their acute pain can turn out to be severe. 

With chronic lower back pain, you can expect prolonged pain that can last for more than three months. This type of pain exceeds your body’s natural healing process, especially if found in your lower back. Chronic pain in your lower back involves a joint problem, disc problem, or irritation to nerve roots.

Below are common causes of lower back pain:

  • Lumbar herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint dysfunction
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Deformity
  • Trauma
  • Compression fracture

Dr. Philip Meinhardt M.D.
is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal pathology.  According to him and his team of orthopedic surgeons at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, the presence of the above-listed conditions may not necessarily be the cause of your lower back pain. Some of these conditions can even appear during the imaging study without causing any significant pain in your low back.

What are the Symptoms and Signs Sometimes Associated with Low Back Pain?

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In most cases, lower back pain starts as acute pain that results from an injury. With time, this pain may become chronic. If you manage your pain at the right time, you can help limit the severity of the symptoms linked to both lower left back pain and lower right back pain.

Common symptoms and signs of low back pain include:

  • Dull, aching pain within the low back or axial pain
  • Pain that extends to your buttocks, legs, and feet
  • Pain after prolonged sitting
  • Pain that gets better whenever you shift to sitting positions
  • Pain that becomes severe after waking up or gets better after moving around

There are many ways you can experience low back pain, although this condition varies from one person to another. Mental and emotional health are great contributors to the severity of low back pain. Financial stress, activity levels, and strenuous exercises can also aggravate your lower back pain.

What are the Types of Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is classified into the following categories:

  1. Nonspecific low back pain: This is a common type of lower back pain. Most sudden-onset or acute low back pain is considered nonspecific. It’s non-special; there’s no clear indication of what brings about the pain. The serenity of non-specific pain varies from mild to severe.
  2. Cauda Equina Syndrome: It is a rare kind of low back pain, though it may cause an emergency. Cauda equina syndrome is a problem that usually affects the nerve root. As a rare disorder, this type of low back pain can lead to back pain combined with problems with the bladder and bowel function. If you’re diagnosed with this syndrome, you may need urgent medical attention to prevent further damage to nerves leading to your bowel and bladder.
  3. Muscle Spasms: Although it’s less common than non-specific low back pain, muscle spasm is one of the most common manifestations of your low back pain. They occur mostly when your muscles involuntary contract.
  4. Radicular Pain: Two factors are known to cause radicular pain in the lower back. They include degeneration of the disc and pinching of nerve roots.

How do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Low Back Pain?

When it comes to the diagnosis of low back pain, Philip Meinhardt M.D. will examine your medical history before performing a physical examination. In the course of your examination, they will establish the condition of your lower back pain. 

The diagnosis process will determine the treatment plan and how long the healing process will take. The doctor may even suggest surgery, depending on the severity of your problem. In case you have evidence of infection or a history of trauma, you may undergo lab tests or have an X-ray of your lower back taken for further examination.

What Are Treatment Options for Low Back Pain?

Many treatment options for low back pain are available. Each option is tailored to meet your needs and preference. Treatment may include home care, alternative care, medical remedies, or surgery. As you may expect, some treatments may turn out to be more effective than others. For that reason, a combination of different options is recommended.

Are There Home Remedies or Other Treatments for Low Back Pain?

Yes, there are several home remedies for low back pain. A perfect example is a yoga for lower back pain and exercises for lower back pain. Exercises can be part of your physical therapy to help relieve lower back pain during pregnancy, pain in the lower left abdomen and back, sharp lower pain, or lower back pain right side.

What is the Prognosis for Low Back Pain?

The effect of low back pain on society and the workplace is widespread. Low back pain is a complex health condition influenced by exogenous and endogenous factors that can alter your productivity in your day-to-day affairs. Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary to help you lead a normal life.

Is it Possible to Prevent Low Back Pain?

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Yes, it’s possible to prevent low back pain by keeping your back muscles strong. To achieve this feat, you must do back stretching and strengthening exercises twice weekly, stand or sit up straight, and avoid heavy lifting. You should also strive to stay active and healthy to prevent being of overweight.

Which Health Care Specialist Treats Low Back Pain?

Dr. Philip Meinhardt, MD is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship-trained spine surgeon.  He specializes in adult spinal surgeries including reconstruction of spinal deformities, minimally invasive/microscopic spinal procedures, decompression, spinal instrumentation, fusion procedures, and microscopic cervical disc replacements.  Additionally, Dr. Meinhardt offers the latest in biological regenerative medicine injections and regenerative treatments helping many patients eliminate the need for surgery.

Low Back Pain Facts

  1. Millions are suffering from low back pain
  2. The number one cause of disability is low back pain
  3. Millions of dollars are spent on the treatment of low back pain yearly
  4. Low back pain is the main reason employees stay away from their work
  5. About 80% of the population experiences low back pain at some point in life
  6. Most low back pain cases are non-organic
  7. Your back isn’t vulnerable
  8. Exercise is recommended for low back pain
  9. Surgery may not be the only ultimate solution for your low back pain
  10. The low back is treatable

Also known as the lumbar spine, your low back is an incredibly well-engineered structure in your body. Your lumbar spine comprises interconnecting bones, nerves, joints, muscles, and ligaments. Together, these components provide the support, flexibility, and strength you need to perform various activities.

Your lumbar spine can make your low back susceptible to pain and injury, which can negatively impact your daily activities. To understand the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of low back pain, contact the office of Sforzo l Dillingham l Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine to schedule your appointment.