Lower back pain is relatively common, especially now that the average person in the United States spends so much time sitting. Most people believe that back pain is a usual sign of aging, and many continue to tolerate the pain in the belief that it is inevitable.
However, modern medicine has unraveled many causes of lower back pain, and more often than not, this condition is treatable. A comprehensive treatment plan can help patients manage the discomfort, live active lives, and even be free from the pain. The first step is determining the cause of your back pain.
Here are three common reasons why you might be having lower back pain:
Direct damage to the spine and its surrounding structures can cause back pain. Unlike a sprained ankle, the symptoms of back trauma can be different. To understand how trauma can cause back pain, you need to first learn about the structure of your spine.
You can think of your spine as multiple joints that are attached end-to-end. Its main functions are to support your body and protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that connects your brain to the rest of your body. It is surrounded by vertebrae and cartilage discs.
The spine’s formation gives your back the ability to twist and bend. It comprises a complex array of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that serve as additional support as you use your back.
If you exceed the safe range of motion of your spine, the muscles and connective tissues can stretch, causing pain and inflammation. Muscle damage is called a strain, while sprains occur when tendons and ligaments are stretched due to trauma.
The lower back is less flexible than the other sections of your spine. If you try to bend too much or too frequently, you can easily injure this area of your back. The lower back also carries more load than the upper sections of the spine, so lifting something too heavy can cause an injury easily.
Strains tend to heal quickly as muscle tissue has a rich blood supply and high metabolic rate. On the other hand, sprains can take weeks to resolve. In severe cases, tears may develop in the affected tendons or ligaments, and surgery may be recommended to ensure proper healing.
Damage to the discs between the vertebrae of your spine is a common cause of lower back pain. The cartilage discs work to absorb mechanical shocks and permit limited movement of your vertebrae. Thus, they serve as receptors of significant shearing and compressive forces.
The cartilage discs of your spine are composed of a tough outer membrane, which protects the disc from rupture, and a softer inner material that provides cushioning. When strong and unbalanced forces impact the disc, the inner material may breach through the outer membrane. The resulting bulge can press on nearby muscles and connective tissue, reducing their blood supply and causing inflammation. It may also compress adjacent nerves, causing neurological symptoms.
Older age is a risk factor for disc degeneration, since the discs lose water and become weaker as people age. Trauma from accidents or poor posture can also cause unbalanced loads on discs, making them more likely to get damaged.
Mild cases of disc degeneration are manageable through lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and medication. With improved ergonomics, patients can prevent further damage to the affected discs. For more serious cases, the option of surgery will also allow for the removal of the damaged discs and relief from pressure on the surrounding tissue.
Arthritis generally refers to the gradual degeneration of cartilage tissue in a joint. Despite how the spine differs from other joints, it is also vulnerable to these degenerative changes. Since cartilage has low levels of metabolic activity, it has limited ability to repair itself, as tissue degenerates over time.
The most common form of arthritis in the spine is osteoarthritis. Aside from cartilage discs, the vertebrae are also connected by facet joints. The inner surfaces of these joints contain cartilage to ensure frictionless movement and provide support. When this cartilage layer wears down, inflammation ensues, causing back pain.
Disc degeneration can also contribute to osteoarthritis. As cartilage discs shrink with age, more of the load is transferred to facet joints, which are less suited for bearing weight.
Like other spinal conditions, first-line treatments use supportive measures. These can include medication or physical therapy or heat application, which is effective in soothing painful areas. Some cases may require surgery.
Orthopedics in Dallas, Texas
Experiencing lower back pain prevents us from enjoying our activities or working more efficiently. Working with a competent doctor will help you access the healthcare you need to live a healthy and active life. Proper treatment begins with a proper diagnosis.
If you are looking for an Orthopedic Clinic to help you with your back pain, look no further than Reagan Integrated Sports Medicine in Dallas, Texas! We provide top-notch orthopedic care to our advanced facility through well-trained doctors and staff! We specialize in sports medicine and offer advanced chiropractic care and regenerative orthopedic treatments.
Learn more and schedule an appointment by calling us at (972) 503-7272 or by using our appointment form.