Approximately 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at least once during their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). From muscle strains to debilitating kidney conditions, there is a multitude of reasons why sharp lumbar (lower back) pain can develop.
Properly diagnosing and treating the cause of your lower back pain may involve a series of tests – but the first course of treatment should be a visit to a reputable orthopedic doctor.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
According to the NIH, muscle strains and sprains are the most frequently reported culprit when it comes to lower back pain. Whether you work in a strenuous profession – such as construction, or a job where you complete repetitive tasks – or you’re a “weekend warrior” training for a marathon, you may have experienced weakness, pain, swelling, or even bruising in your lower back.
Luckily, this discomfort can often be mitigated through home remedies to the painful area such as heating, icing, and the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.
Pain from Herniated Discs
Spinal discs act as shock absorbers and cushions between the vertebrae, protecting us against the wear-and-tear caused by everyday activities, as well as aging. A sudden and severe shooting pain in the back is a common symptom of a slipped (or herniated) disc.
A slipped disc occurs when the softer interior of a disc leaks out due to a rupture in the exterior of the disc, and this leakage can irritate the nerves and cause pain, numbness, or weakness.
Lower Back Pain from Sciatica
If the lower back pain is occurring in the buttocks and down through the legs, it may be sciatica. The sciatic nerve goes from your lower back down through your buttocks, hips, and legs. Sciatica usually affects only one side of your body.
Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disc, a bone spur along the spinal column, or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine). Usually, sciatica can be resolved after a few weeks of non-surgical treatment.
Back Pain from Osteoporosis or Fractures
A compression fracture of the vertebrae can be caused by degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis, which is a gradual reduction of bone density.
A back fracture can also be caused by trauma, such as a fall, sports injury, or car accident. Those experiencing this type of musculoskeletal ailment often report shooting pain the lower back, numbness, tingling, weakness, and incontinence.
Back Pain from Arthritis
While arthritis is typically associated with the hands and knees, it can target all regions of the body. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a division of the NIH, back pain is a common symptom of spinal stenosis, which can be causes by arthritis.
Of all of the vertebral sections – cervical, thoracic, and lumbar (lower back) – the lumbar region is most prone to arthritis because it bears the brunt of the body’s weight.
Back Pain from Other Areas of the Body
In some cases, the root cause of the lower back pain you feel may not actually be the back. Kidney infections or kidney stones are both known to cause excruciating lower back pain.
When urine becomes concentrated, hard deposits of minerals and salts can form deep within the kidneys, forming a stone. It usually isn’t until the stone passes into your ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder) that you feel side or back pain.
If you are experiencing this type of pain, your physician may refer you to a urologist. If the pain is severe, however, you should go to the emergency room right away.
Treatment for Back Pain
Your specialist will most likely employ a multidimensional approach to treatment of your back pain, including rest, icing the area, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs. However, severe pain, high fever, or loss of bowel control are often indicators of a more serious condition affecting the spinal cord.
For this reason, it’s best to never self-diagnose, and instead seek the advice of an expert.
Who Can Help with My Back Pain?
OrthoUnited is Northeast Ohio’s premier center for orthopedic care. Our state-of-the-art medical center offers comprehensive services by top-rated surgeons and specialists.
If you’re seeking expert care to help resolve your back pain, arthritis, and other orthopedic issues, look no further. Call us today at (844) 469-2663 for more information or to schedule an appointment, or you can fill out our simple online appointment request form now to get started. We look forward to helping you live a more active, enjoyable lifestyle.