Lower back pain is a common problem among many Americans. Fortunately, in a majority of cases, it gets better without the need for medical intervention. Sometimes, however, symptoms can be a cause for concern and may require further investigation by a doctor in order to manage the pain successfully.
The lower back, also known as the lumbar region, is a common source of back pain, which isn’t surprising because it plays an important role in everyday life. Not only does it support the weight of the upper body, but it also withstands weight and pressure from activities such as bending, lifting, and twisting, which can make it susceptible to injury and spinal conditions. The lower back is composed of muscles, ligaments, bones, and nerves, and problems with, or damage to, any of these structures can result in pain.
When to Visit A Doctor
Often, lower back pain episodes are temporary, and a minor injury such as a sprain or a strain, bad posture, or over-exertion can all result in pain in the lower back. Temporary back pain usually improves within 1-2 weeks and basic at-home care such as rest, heat and cold therapies, and over-the-counter pain medication may be all that is required. However, in some cases, back pain may be more serious and require a visit to a doctor, particularly if:
- You have severe back pain that has lasted for more than a week without improvement, or it continues to get worse
- You have radiating pain that travels into the glutes, groin, hip, and/or leg (which can indicate spinal nerve compression)
- Back pain is interfering with normal day-to-day activities or work duties
If lower back pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as sudden weakness in the legs, incontinence, or numbness/pins and needles in the groin or glutes, you should seek emergency medical care, as this may indicate a serious medical condition.
If lower back pain isn’t improving within 1-2 weeks, you should visit a doctor who can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend an appropriate treatment plan to address your symptoms and the underlying condition causing them. There are some common conditions that can cause lower pain, including:
Sciatica can cause radiating pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness that travel from the lower back, down through the back of the leg, and into the foot. It occurs when the sciatic nerve (the long, thick nerve that extends from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and down each leg) becomes compressed or inflamed by an issue such as a herniated disc. It typically only affects one side of the body at a time.
A herniated (ruptured) disc can cause significant back pain and frequently affects the lower back. Discs are the cushion-like pads that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae bones in the spine. A herniated disc is when the outer disc layer tears, causing its gel-like center to leak out. This can irritate and put pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, causing pain. A herniated disc can result from trauma, injury, and conditions such as degenerative disc disease.
The aging process, spinal injuries, and degenerative conditions such as arthritis, can cause the spaces within your spine (where the spinal cord and nerves travel through) to narrow, a condition known as spinal stenosis. This can place pressure on the nerves, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs.
Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling within joints, including the ones in the spine. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, which can result from wear and tear, injury, or overuse. It causes the protective cartilage at the end of the bones to gradually wear away, resulting in painful bone on bone rubbing.
Treatment For Lower Back Pain
Effective treatments for back pain can vary depending on the diagnosis and the severity of the symptoms. Often, conservative treatment methods are used initially to relieve symptoms, which can include activity modifications, pain-relieving medications, physical therapy, steroid injections, nerve blocks, PRP therapy, and radiofrequency ablation. Sometimes, however, back pain that does not improve with non-surgical methods may require surgery.
Help for Back Pain in Melbourne, FL
If you’re experiencing low back pain, call the pain management specialists at Central Florida Spine & Pain. We provide effective, long-lasting pain relief and aim to relieve your symptoms, no matter the cause. To find out more about the services we provide, call us today at (321) 802-5021, and for your convenience, you can also request an appointment online.