Lower back pain is characterized by a feeling of pain around the lumbar region (curve of the back connecting the upper back and glutes- muscles in the buttock that are responsible for thigh movement) caused by muscle or ligament injury. The spinal area is most likely to be affected by lower pain as it may impair routine activities like walking and standing. Any lower back pain that lasts for more than ninety days can be considered as chronic.
Causes of lower back pain
There are plenty of causes for lower back pain. Anything that exposes the lumbar area of the spine to a level of stress beyond its capacity can cause lower back pain. These causes are-
1. Disorders of the discs - The spinal area in the lower back comprises of small bones called the vertebra, which are connected to each other by pieces of cartilage known as discs. These discs act as shock absorbers, and when exposed to excessive shock can cause the disc to bulge, resulting in herniated discs. Wear and tear of the discs can also occur.
2. Spinal stenosis - Spinal stenosis occurs when the area around the spine becomes narrow. It may affect the nerves surrounding the lower back, resulting in pain.
3. Wear and tear of the joints and ligaments - Normal wear and tear of the joints and ligaments cause difficulties in holding the spine in its proper position and this progresses with age. This may cause a vertebra to slide over another and affect the nerve endings, giving rise to pain.
Symptoms of lower back pain
The symptoms of lower back pain are usually a dull or excruciating pain in the lower back. It can also affect other parts of the body such as the hips and the legs. In case of severe pain, simple activities like walking, bending and sitting will be impaired.
The treatment options are based on source of pain - ranges from physiotherapy to medication to nerve root injections or keyhole endoscopic discectomy under local anesthesia, as a day care procedure. Open surgery is the last resort.