Lower Back Pain Causes and Treatments

Lower back pain can be extremely debilitating and can prevent you from doing the things you love, as well as potentially impacting your work. Whether you are over the age of 60, or young and athletic, lower back pain is a possibility and could be a result of even the smallest of injuries, or bad habits, as well as a range of other medical reasons. 

Below are a series of frequently asked questions relating to lower back pain which will hopefully give you an understanding of what may cause the problem and how it can be treated effectively. 

What are the main causes of lower back pain?

Lower back pain causes can vary and could stem from a range of things, even something rather innocuous. 

Here is a comprehensive list of the possible causes of lower back pain. 

  • Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) – This is a condition which occurs when the intervertebral discs lose water over the years, reducing overall hydration and lessening strength. This prevents the discs from absorbing pressure which can result in the disc moving and disrupting the wall of tissue which could result in a hernia. This can be very painful and could even contribute to stenosis (read below) if left untreated.
  • Spinal Stenosis – This is caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal, specifically at the nerve roots, resulting in pain. This narrowing can occur on multiple levels of the spine and can be either foraminal or central or even both. 
  • Lumbar Herniated Disc – The Lumbar disc contains a soft center that can sometimes protrude out of the outer layer, coming into contact with the nerve (a hernia). This could cause compression, often resulting in significant pain and inflammation.
  • Spondylolisthesis – This is the result of a vertebra moving, or slipping over the one next to it. There are five different forms of this condition, relating to differing forms of damage to the facet joints.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction – Connecting the bottom of the spine, each side of the pelvis, and the sacrum (the shield bone around the pelvis), the sacroiliac joint is primarily used to absorb impact and avoid any tension between the upper and lower halves of the body. When this joint becomes inflamed or stiff, it can become very painful. 
  • Facet Joint Dysfunction – Located behind each spinal disc are two facet joints with cartilage in between and capsular ligament around the bone, intertwined with many nerves. When aggravated, these joints can cause great discomfort. 
  • Osteoarthritis – Generally a result of aging, this condition is a result of the wearing of the disc and joints, causing inflammation, pain, a lack of stability and could lead to stenosis. This can affect just one, or multiple levels of the spine and will gradually worsen over time if not treated. 
  • Traumas – Physical traumas such as a fracture, or a dislocation can result in lower back pain. 
  • Compression Fractures – These fractures are not caused by trauma and instead they are caused by progressive weakening of the bones caused by various conditions. Compression fractures are specific to the cylindrical vertebra.
  • Curvatures – A curvature of the spine can relate to scoliosis (the spine curves sideways, common in teenagers), or kyphosis (a rounding at the top of the back) and over time this can result in pain in the lower and upper back.  
  • Tumors – Tumors that spread to the spine can also cause lower back pain and any cancer patients who notice discomfort in their lower back should consult their doctor immediately. Cancers that could spread to the spine include; prostate, kidney, breast, lung, or thyroid. 
  • Autoimmune Disease – Lower back pain can occur because of many conditions relating to autoimmune disease.
  • Spinal Infections – Infections of the spine are quite rare but can be agonizing and even life-threatening if it is not treated. Often this sort of infection is a result of surgery or injections.

What could lower right back pain mean?

Pain in the lower right of the back could mean issues with the actual mechanics of your back and abdomen, namely; the spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. However, it could also be related to your organs and be linked to a number of infections, including kidney stones. 

If you notice lower right back pain then you should pay a visit to your local doctor. 

How can I find lower back pain relief?

Staying active can be an effective way of relieving pain in your lower back as it encourages blood flow and can speed up the recovery process. If moving regularly causes discomfort, then painkillers can also be taken after exercising.

Stretching is also another good way of reducing pain levels in the back and many of these can be done at home by following a book, TV, or Youtube

Also, consider using hot and cold packs during periods of pain, a hot bath can also offer similar relief. 

Lower back pain treatment – What to avoid

When treating lower back pain, the following is not recommended:

  • Acupuncture
  • Traction exercises, including the use of weights
  • Wearing tight garments such as belts and corsets
  • Foot orthotics
  • Interferential (electrical current) therapy
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound Treatment
  • Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • Painkilling injections

What should I avoid if I have pain in the lower back?

If you have pain in your lower back then you should pay particular attention to your posture and general movement. Try not to slouch, or hunch over, avoid bending over repetitively and make an attempt to move as much as possible, including leisurely walks and gentle exercises.

What if my lower back pain treatment doesn’t work?

If you find that none of the recommended treatments, exercises, or physical therapy are working then you should arrange a consultation with your doctor and discuss the possibility of surgery. This could be Spinal Fusion Surgery or the implementation of a mechanical implant device such as the TOPS System. 

Read more about the TOPS System here which has a better chance of preserving motion and maintaining stability when compared to spinal fusion surgery.