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: