Low back pain is a worldwide problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in countries all over the world, low back pain “ranks high (often first) as a cause of disability and inability to work, as an interference with the quality of life, and as a reason for medical consultation.” The American Chiropractic Association reports that 31 million people in the U.S. suffer from low back pain at any given time.
The causes for low back pain are many. At times, doctors may not even be able to discover the underlying cause of the pain.
Most often, however, the cause of the pain comes down to the following issues. Once the cause of the pain is found, it can be easier to treat.
- Degenerative diseases: As we age, the cushioning between our intervertebral discs can wear away or become damaged. This can lead to related issues, such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or disc herniation. With any of these conditions, the aging process is a major risk factor. These conditions can lead to acute pain in one portion of the back or general pain that may be felt throughout the back and even down the legs.
- Injuries: Overuse injuries, such as picking up heavy objects improperly or sitting with bad posture, can lead to chronic sources of low back pain. Even though these strains or springs often occur through overuse, they can also occur after just one incident.
- Fractures: Fractures that occur as the result of a motor vehicle accident or a fall can lead to chronic low back pain if not treated promptly and effectively. Likewise, those who suffer from osteoporosis are at a greater risk for developing compression fractures. These fractures occur when the bones of the spine become weak and compress downwards.
- Spinal disorders: Though relatively uncommon, some people suffer from spinal deformities that cause back pain. These include scoliosis or kyphosis, which present as irregular curvatures of the spine.
- Pain related to surgery: Unfortunately, sometimes surgery that is meant to treat low back pain can lead to other forms of pain in the back. When this occurs, it requires a thorough examination of the initial cause of the pain as well as issues that may have occurred with the surgery.
- Lifestyle: Lifestyle risk factors can put a person at an increased risk for low back pain. Those who smoke or who are overweight are at greater risk, as well as those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Likewise, the perception of pain can have a major impact on a person’s experience of pain, with a high perception of pain often leading to a poor outcome in terms of pain relief. Interestingly, many studies have also found a relationship between employment status and a person’s level of pain.
These are just a few of the conditions related to low back pain. There are many other causes that may be specific in nature or back pain that presents with no discernible cause. At all times, it’s most important to discuss your pain with your doctor in order to come to the correct treatment method for you.
Do you suffer from low back pain? Do you know its cause?
Image by Michael Dorausch via Flickr