Low back pain (lumbar spine) is the most common form of pain related to the anatomical spine. The lumbar spine is a well engineered structure of interconnection bones (vertebral bodies), joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles. They all work together to provide support, strength and flexibility. This complex structure is susceptible to injury and pain. It is most likely everyone will experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime.
Symptoms of Low Back Pain
Pain that is dull or achy, contained to the low back
Muscle spasms and tightness in the low back, pelvis, and hips
Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing
Other symptoms associated with low back pain are even more problematic such as:
Stinging, burning pain that moves from the low back to the backs of the thighs, sometimes into the lower legs or feet; can include numbness or tingling (sciatica)
Difficulty standing up straight, walking, or going from standing to sitting
Low Back Pain Onset
In addition, symptoms of lower back pain are usually described by type of onset and duration:
Acute low back pain which is sudden and last from a few days to weeks. It is a typical response to bodily injury or tissue damage. The pain most likely will subside over time.
Subacute low back pain typically lasts between 6 weeks and 3 months. The pain is normally mechanical in nature. At this point a medical workup may be considered.
Chronic low back pain is usually defined as lasting over 3 months. The pain is usually severe and does not respond to conservative treatments.
Types of Low Back Pain
Mechanical Pain is by far the most common. The source is primarily from the muscles, ligaments and joints (facet joints, sacroiliac joints), in and around the spine.
Radicular Pain can occur if a spinal nerve root becomes impinged or inflamed. The pain may follow a nerve root pattern or dermatome down into the buttock and/or leg. The sensation is described as sharp, electric, burning type pain. This can be associated with numbness or weakness (sciatica).
Low Back Pain Treatments
It is also possible for low back pain to develop with no definitive cause. When this happens, the primary focus is on treating the symptoms (rather than the cause of the symptoms) and the patient’s overall health.
The key is to seek treatment from a specialist and obtain a primary diagnosis. Conservative treatments may include simple rest and activity modification. Pain management through medication may help as well. Physical therapy and surgery maybe also be considered.