Lower back pain is rampant in the adult population. Roughly 80 percent of people will experience some form of pain near the lumbar spine. While this may sound ominous and pessimistic, the truth is that lower back pain can be overcome, it just requires the right information.
The first step to finding relief from lower back pain is understanding the root causes, which is why today we will be discussing three common causes of pain in the lumbar spine region.
The first cause of pain we will discuss is known as lumbar radiculopathy. This is a condition in which the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lumbar spine down the legs, gets pinched or irritated. This can happen for a number of reasons, including:
- Degenerative disease
- Poor posture
- Muscular weakness/tightness
Regardless of the cause, the result is a tingling and electrical pain radiating down the lower back and legs.
Treatment for this condition will vary depending on the cause, but it is common to see physical therapy, medication, rest, and surgery as part of the treatment plan. While surgery may be necessary in extreme cases, it should be viewed as a last resort, and only considered after prior interventions have failed.
Bulging or Herniated Discs
The second potential cause of lumbar spine pain is a bulging or herniated disc. Before we discuss causes of such conditions, it is important to lay out the anatomy of the spine.
The spine consists of a series of bones known as the vertebrae. These bones need to maintain some level of flexibility, and as such, the spine is basically a number of consecutive joints.
Joints need some level of cushioning, and the spine in particular requires a significant amount of soft tissue within its joints because it is subject to a fair amount of load-bearing. Cushioning is provided by soft intervertebral tissue, known as discs.
Issues arise when these discs begin to pop out from their proper place. In minor cases, the disc simply bulges out, but with further pressure, they can herniate entirely.
Both of these conditions can cause pain in the lumbar spine and can also lead to radiculopathy if the disc presses on surrounding nerves. Treatment is easier in the case of a bulging disc, where there is a higher chance of non-surgical recovery. Options for treatment include:
- Physical therapy
- Pain medication
- Surgery (in severe cases only)
As with surgery for radiculopathy, surgery for a disc injury should only be considered as a last resort.
Facet Joint Syndrome
The final cause of lower back pain we will cover is facet joint syndrome. FJS is a condition in which the soft tissue between the vertebrae begins to deteriorate. A form of osteoarthritis, FJS can make the joints of the lumbar spine stiff and inflexible and can cause pain with movement.
Treatment for this condition will largely mirror that of a bulging or herniated disc. The main difference will be that there is less hope of directly restoring the soft tissue, so the focus will be on shifting the place on the spine to better manage pain.
In addition, relieving the spine of excessive pressure can prevent the condition from worsening and allow some healing to occur. This is a slow process, but with consistency, there is hope of relief.
The Takeaway on Lumbar Spine Pain
Many things can cause pain in the lower back. While it can be scary and complicated facing such issues, there is hope if the patient is willing to seek out information on their condition. A compassionate and knowledgeable medical provider can help make this process easier, and at OSA, we place a tremendous amount of importance on helping our patients understand the pain.
If you are unsure where to start your search for relief, reach out and contact us. Our staff would be happy to help you learn what you need to get back to a pain-free life.