If you struggle with pain in your lower back, you are far from alone. According to studies, low back pain has been the biggest cause of disability since 1990. In 2017, the prevalence of lower back pain was 7.5% worldwide, which is 577 million people. As the age of the population increases, so does the prevalence of back pain.

So, what can you do about it? Orthopedic back and spine specialists are experts in all conditions and injuries associated with the back, including chronic lower back pain. They diagnose the source of the pain and offer non-surgical treatments before turning to surgery as a solution. If you are struggling with ongoing lower back pain, consider seeing a specialist for relief.

About the Lower Back

The spinal column is 33 bones that house and protect the spinal cord, an extension of the central nervous system. The vertebrae of the spine are supported by muscles and ligaments to provide stability. Intervertebral discs between the vertebrae provide cushioning and shock absorption.

The spine is divided into four parts from the neck down to the tailbone: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. The lumbar region is more commonly called the lower back. It consists of vertebrae L1 through L5, the largest in the spine.

The lumbar spine is the major support portion of the back. It distributes the weight of the body, provides flexibility and trunk movement, and protects the nerves that branch from the lower spinal cord to control leg movement.

Chronic Lower Back Pain and Other Symptoms

The most common and obvious symptom of lower back issues is pain. Acute pain is sudden onset. If you overexert yourself or experience a traumatic injury, you might have acute pain in the lower back. Chronic pain is more common and results from many different injuries and underlying conditions.

The type of pain you feel in the low back depends on the cause. It might be dull and achy, crampy, or sharp. It generally will worsen with certain movements, like bending, lifting, sitting, or walking. Lower back pain may also be accompanied by pain that extends into the buttocks, hips, and down the legs.

It is important to see an orthopedic specialist for any type of lower back pain, as they can help you get relief. However, there are certain symptoms that accompany the pain that indicate you should see a doctor right away:

  • Leg weakness
  • Loss of control of the bladder or bowels
  • Fever and chills
  • Unexpected weight loss

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Back and spine orthopedic specialists evaluate their patients and run diagnostic tests to find the underlying cause of pain. There are many conditions and injuries with the potential to cause acute and chronic lower back pain. These are some of the most common:

  • Overactivity. It is easy to pull and strain the soft tissue around the spine with overactivity. Infrequent activities for which you are not prepared, like lifting something heavy, can cause this injury. Another cause is repetitive motion during sports or at work.
  • Degenerative conditions. Osteoarthritis of the spine and degenerative disc disease cause pain as tissue breaks down. This can cause bone to rub on bone and also lead to pinched nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis. This occurs when one vertebra in the back slides out and over another. It is often caused by aging and arthritis.
  • Herniated disc. When the soft material inside a vertebral disc pushes out or ruptures, it causes herniation, which can be painful.
  • Spinal stenosis. Often caused by osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis is the narrowing of space around the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Spinal deformities. Young people sometimes develop an abnormal curvature of the spine, called scoliosis, but older adults with arthritis can also have this problem. Swayback, or lumbar lordosis, is an excessive inward curve of the lower back.

How Can a Lower Back Pain Specialist Help?

Once a specialist has evaluated you, they will offer lower back pain treatments based on the underlying cause. They typically provide conservative treatments first, such as rest, medications, and physical therapy. If these do not provide adequate relief, orthopedic specialists will recommend an appropriate surgery:

  • Lumbar fusion
  • Disc replacement
  • Lumbar disectomy
  • Lumbar laminectomy
  • Lumbar hemilaminotomy/foraminotomy
  • Colflex procedure
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Percutaneous posterior lumbar pedicle or facet screw instrumentation

Our spine and back experts always choose the least invasive procedure possible. This allows them to provide patients relief but also minimize recovery time and potential surgical complications.

Where Can I Find a Lower Back Orthopedic Doctor Near Me?

Some of the most experienced back and spine orthopedists are right in your backyard. EmergeOrtho serves patients throughout North Carolina with multiple offices in the Blue Ridge, Foothills, Triad, Triangle, and Wilmington regions.

If lower back pain has been bothering you, or you have an acute injury, reach out to the experts at EmergeOrtho. Call for a consultation or reach out online to request an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and lower back specialist.

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