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Low Back Pain


Why is Low Back Pain Common?

Low back pain is one of the most frequent problems treated by orthopaedic surgeons. After the common cold, problems caused by the lower back are the most frequent cause in adults under the age of 45. The lower or lumbar spine is a complex structure that connects your upper body to your lower body. This important part of your spine provides you with both mobility and strength. The mobility allows movements such as turning, twisting or bending, and the strength allows you to stand, walk and lift.

What are the Common Causes?

Low back pain can be caused by a number of factors from injuries to the effects of aging.

Low back Sprain and Strain:
A strain of the muscle can occur when the muscle is poorly conditioned or overworked. The ligaments of the low back act to interconnect the five vertebral bones and provide support or stability for the low back. A sprain of the low back can occur when a sudden, forceful movement injuries a ligament which has become stiff or weak through poor conditioning or overuse. These injuries or sprain and strain, are the most common causes of low back pain. Frequently, a combination of other factors may increase the likelihood of injury or disease: Poor conditioning , Improper use , Obesity , Smoking.

Aging: “Wear and tear” and inherited factors will cause degenerative changes in the discs, called degenerative disc disease, and arthritic changes in the small joints. These changes occur to some degree in everyone. When severe, they can cause low back stiffness and pain. Arthritic bone spurs and inflamed joints can cause nerve irritation and leg pain. Almost everyone develops “wear and tear” changes in their low back as they age, although for most people it causes little pain or loss of function.

Osteoporosis and Fractures: All bones lose bone strength over time and the lumbar vertebrae particularly in postmenopausal women, can be fractured or compressed from a fall or even from the stress of lifting or everyday activities.

Protruding Disc: The disc is composed of a soft center or nucleus, which, in children and young adults, is jelly like. The nucleus is surrounded by a tougher outer portion called the annulus. With normal aging, the nucleus begins to resemble the annulus. During middle-age, fissures or cracks may occur in the disc. These may be the source of back pain. If the crack extends out of the disc, material from the disc may push out or rapture. This often is referred to as a herniated or slipped disc. If the protruded disc presses a nerve, it may cause pain in the leg.

What is the Best Treatment?

Most low back pain can be safely and effectively treated following an examination by your orthopaedic surgeon and a prescribed period of activity modification and some medication to relieve the pain and diminish the inflammation. Although a brief period of rest may be helpful, most studies show that light activity speeds healing and recovery. It may not be necessary for you to discontinue all activities. Once the initial pain has eased, a rehabilitation program may be suggested to increase your muscle strength in your low back and abdominal muscles as well as some stretching exercises to increase your flexibility. Weight loss if you are a smoker, also will decrease the chances of a recurrence of your low back pain. The best long-term treatment is an active prevention program of maintaining your physical condition and observing proper lifting and postural activities to prevent further injuries.

When is Surgery Needed?

Most low back pain, whether acute or chronic, almost always can be treated without surgery. The most common reason for surgery on the lower back is to remove the pressure from a “slipped disc” when it causes nerve and leg pain and has not responded to other treatments. Some arthritic conditions of the spine, when severe, also can cause pressure and nerve irritation, and often can be improved with surgical treatment.

 

Common Bone & Joint Problems | Sports Injuries | Arthritis | Joint Pains | Low Back Pain | Arthroscopy
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