Lower back and spine pain is a one of the leading causes of physician visits in the US; generally speaking, 4 out of 5 adults experience it at some point in their lives.
Interestingly, the severity of the back pain is often unrelated to the extent of the injury. For example, lower back spasms can cause excruciating pain that can make it difficult to walk or even stand, while a herniated disc or even a totally degenerated disc in your spine can be completely painless.
Lower back and spine pain may be caused by injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support your spine. You are likely to walk or move in unusual ways after hurting your back – this can injure or strain other muscles that are not used to moving in that way, making your back problem worse.
These are some of the typical symptoms and causes of lower back and spine pain:
- Leg pain or sciatica that radiates through your buttocks, along with a feeling of numbness down to one or both feet. These symptoms are typically caused by a disc herniation in the lumbar spine, and usually feels worse after long periods of standing or sitting in a fixed position.
- Lower back pain that occurs in certain positions and by engaging in movements such as bending forward, jumping or running is typically caused by degenerative disc disease. Symptoms of this condition tend to fluctuate, alternately improving and becoming significantly worse.
- Lower back pain that is at its worst first thing in the morning is caused by facet joint osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis. This condition involves breakdown of the cartilage between the facet joints in the vertebrae. The pain and stiffness is because of the lack of cartilage between the facet joints. Osteoarthritis is made worse by injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments and facet joints through strenuous activity such as sports or work that involves hard labor.
- Lower back and spine pain that occurs when walking, and increases with increased mobility, is usually because of lumbar spinal stenosis. This is a condition in which there is a narrowing of the spinal canal because of bone spurs typically as a result of arthritis or aging. Both these conditions place pressure on spinal nerves at the points where they exit the spine. Standing upright, such as in normal walking, increases pressure on these nerves and results in back pain.