Everybody experiences pain at some point, whether you stub your toe, cut yourself shaving, or get a splinter. Chronic pain is when the sensation lasts longer than six months, and there’s a range of problems that can lead to long-term pain, including musculoskeletal pain, that affect people all over the world. This specific type of chronic pain affects 1.71 billion people globally, and can lead to limited mobility and being unable to work or otherwise function.
The lower back is a very common location for this type of pain, with 570 million sufferers across the globe looking for relief. To help treat this type of pain, it’s vital to know the cause, so let’s look at what back pain is, the conditions that often lead to it, and what your treatment options are.
If you live in the La Vernia, Gonzales, Kyle or Floresville, Texas, area, and you’re struggling with back pain, Dr. Eric Miller and his experienced medical staff are here to help you feel better.
Your back is the essential support for your body, as your spine reaches from your head to your pelvis and allows you to do the most basic movements such as bending, twisting, or even standing upright. Your spine is a network of bones (collectively known as vertebrae), disks that rest between them to provide cushion, tendons, and ligaments connected to the muscles, bones and other tissue in your back to create the movement unique to the upper body and vital to everyday activities.
Pain in the different parts of the spine (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar) can be either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and can be the result of problems in the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, or muscles in your back.
Lower back pain means pain in the lumbar region of your spine, and approximately 80% of adults will experience some sort of this pain during their lifetime. The type of pain ranges from dull ache to sharp and intense and can be caused by several factors, including:
Damage to your back from falls, accidents, or impact from collisions in full-contact sports can often lead to pain due to fractured vertebrae or injury to spinal disks (ruptures or herniations), and the pain is generally immediately after impact.
Overstretching ligaments (sprains) or tendons (strains) can happen for a variety of reasons, including overuse, improper lifting, lifting something too heavy, or twisting awkwardly when walking or bending. Signs of this type of pain include tenderness, muscle spasms, and swelling.
This is a form of damage to the disks between your vertebrae when they wear down over time. When the disc wears down enough, they cause the vertebrae to rub against each other when you move, leading to pain that gets worse when you bend or twist your back.
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back all the way down your legs, and damage to this nerve can lead to pain, numbness, burning, or tingling sensations that can run down your leg. Other back problems can cause compression of this nerve, leading to the aforementioned symptoms.
This is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which becomes more common as you age (50 and over), leading to difficulty walking, lower back pain, weakness or numbness in both legs, and even sciatica.
Solutions for managing back pain are as varied as the causes, and they range from physical therapy treatments, medications, and surgical solutions. Mild to moderate back pain can be treated with physical therapy and over-the-counter medications, with prescription drugs as an option if the pain is too much for other methods to manage. Braces are also an option if the lower back needs support while it heals.
We use minimally invasive treatments, like steroid, epidural spine, trigger point and nerve block injections, muscle relaxers, and various forms of physical therapy to treat back problems. Surgical options are used when the other methods are not enough, and include spinal fusion, disk replacement, diskectomy, laminectomy, and kyphoplasty (also known as vertebroplasty).
Lower back pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, but whatever the reason for your pain, we’re here to help. Make an appointment with Dr. Miller and his team today to get relief from lower back pain.