Low back pain is a universal human experience and about 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes.
Fortunately, low back pain typically gets better on its own and when it doesn’t, there are effective treatments. Most low back pain is acute and tends to resolve on its own with self-care such as lower back stretches and there is no residual loss of function. The majority of acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back (the spine, muscle, intervertebral discs, and nerves) fit together and move. The spine supports all the upper body weight and is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae stacked one on top of the other. A spongy piece of tissue and cartilage, referred to as a disc, sits between each vertebra. It acts as a shock absorber, preventing the bony vertebrae from grinding against each other.
Pain is considered chronic if it lasts for longer than three months and exceeds the body’s natural healing process. Chronic pain within the low back typically involves a disc problem, a joint drawback, and/or an irritated nerve root. Overuse injuries are an awfully common supply of inflammation in the lower back pain and stiffness. However, this usually goes away after a few days. Causes of lower back pain include:
- Lumbar Herniated/Ruptured discs – Occur once the intervertebral discs become compressed and bulge outward (herniation) or rupture, causing low back pain.
- Spondylolisthesis – Traditional wear and tear make it hard for your joints and ligaments to keep your spine in the proper position, particularly as we age. When a vertebra moves more than it should, it can slide forward and on top of another. When this happens bones press on the spinal nerves and cause lower back pain.
- Osteoarthritis – (or spinal arthritis) is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the neck and lower back. Sometimes, osteoarthritis produces spurs that put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal structure.
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones) – a metabolic bone disease marked by a progressive decrease in bone density and strength, which might cause painful fractures of the vertebrae.
- Spinal stenosis – A narrowing of the spine space around the spinal cord can place pressure on nerves, typically caused by bone spurs that have developed as a result of arthritis.
- Scoliosis – An abnormal curvature of the spine will cause back pain.
- Fibromyalgia – A chronic pain syndrome involving widespread muscle pain and fatigue.
A regimen of low-impact exercises is recommended, such as Speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes daily can increase muscle strength and mobility. Yoga can also facilitate stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture. Consult a physician for a list of low-impact, age-appropriate exercises that are specifically targeted to strengthening the lower back and abdominal muscles.