Lower Back Pain

Symptoms of Lower Back Pain

The symptoms of lower back pain may seem self-explanatory; however, the conditions and injuries that cause low back pain can also lead to other symptoms. All of the conditions we listed above (spondylolisthesis, osteoarthritis, etc.) are conditions that feature a wide range of symptoms. Although low back pain is often the most prevalent symptom of each disorder, that does not mean that other symptoms won’t also affect your pain or the recovery process.

However, the exact manner in which your lower back pain presents itself will depend upon the condition that is producing your discomfort. Neurological symptoms—such as tingling or numbness in the extremities, for example—are common with conditions such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis; whereas osteoarthritis, for instance, may cause joint inflammation in other regions of the body, such as the knees, elbows, or wrists. It is often the presence of these co-occurring symptoms that enable your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

Causes of Adult Scoliosis

There are several precipitating factors that may result in adult-onset scoliosis. Almost all of these factors are related to age and the age-related degeneration of spinal tissues and bones. One of the main reasons that we see scoliosis in adults is from exactly this: the degeneration of vertebrae and vertebral tissues due to osteoarthritis.

According to the Arthritis Association, one in two adults will experience some form of osteoarthritis in their lifetime. Osteoarthritis, most often seen in adults over age 60, involves the breaking down of cartilage between our joints. Negative side effects, such as pain or the development of bone spurs, often result. This deterioration often occurs in knees, hips, fingers, and yes, the spine. When the tissues between our vertebrae break down, it can lead to the compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerves, the growth of bone spurs, and a change in the shape of the spinal canal and the joints between our vertebrae.

Other causes of adult scoliosis include other degenerative conditions such as spinal stenosis, compression fractures, and degenerative disc disease. Like osteoarthritis, all of these conditions lead to damage of intervertebral discs, cartilage, and bone material which can result in compression of the vertebrae and nerves. This can even cause changes to the joints between our bones. Furthermore, changes in the angles between bones will change the direction of movement and the shape of the spine, possibly leading to scoliosis.

Classification of Lower Back Pain

In addition, lower back pain can be subdivided into three classifications. These include:

Lumbar Radiculopathy: This is also known as “sciatica,” and many people have it. When the sciatic nerve of the lower back becomes compressed, it can cause severe pain that radiates from the lower back and into the legs.

Axial low back pain: This is very common. The pain is confined to the lower back and travels to the buttocks or legs. The pain can be dull or sharp and severe enough to interfere with everyday activities. Physical activity or sitting in a specific position can make it worse.

Low back pain with referred pain: This is also a radiating pain in the buttocks, upper thigh, and groin. Sometimes the pain can go below the knee. Patients describe the pain as achy and dull with different intensities. The pain is very similar to axial low back pain.

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Lower Back Pain Treatment Options

Pain Management

Anti-inflammatory and prescription strength medications may be prescribed to help you tolerate the discomfort of low back pain. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe steroidal injections to eliminate pain at the site of pinched nerves.

Decompression Procedures

Minimally invasive surgical options, such as foraminotomies, are available to ease discomfort that results from more severe forms of spinal degeneration. During these procedures, small portions of bone and disc material are removed to decompress pinched nerves. Read more...

Physical Therapy

Most of the conditions associated with low back pain can be soothed by physical therapy. Focused exercises and stretches can create space between the vertebrae and ease pressure off of pinched nerves, as well as help your spine recover from injury or poor posture.

Spinal Fusion Surgery

If spinal instability is a major source of pain, a spinal fusion may be the best option to provide additional support and ease symptoms. A spinal fusion procedure involves fusing two vertebrae together to prevent pain-inducing movement where the vertebrae connect. Read more...