Causes of Chronic and Sudden Lower Back Pain: 8 Causes


Causes of Chronic and Sudden Lower Back Pain: 8 Causes

You may occasionally be able to pinpoint the cause of your backache. Maybe you awkwardly lifted something and experienced pain right away. Alternatively, it's possible that your doctor has been alerting you for years that your poor posture would result in lower back pain.

However, there are times when it seems impossible to pinpoint the cause of back pain.

Your lumbar spine, which is in your lower back, is essential for supporting the weight of your upper body. According to Dr. Kenneth Palmer, an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist who specializes in spine surgery, it's also in charge of regular movements like bending, twisting, and coordinating the muscles in your legs, feet, hips, and pelvis.

The bones, muscles, ligaments, disks, and nerves in your lumbar spine are subject to heavy use, making them prone to damage and wear and tear over time, which can result in lower back pain.


Here are Signs of Lower Back Pain

• A dull hip-and/or pelvic ache.

• Tightness or spasms in the muscles.

• Sciatica, which is characterized by a sharp, tingling pain that radiates down one leg from the lower back.

• Pain that gets progressively better while walking and gets worse while sitting.

• A pronounced increase in pain in the morning.

Usually, a person exhibits a mix of these symptoms, which may appear suddenly or gradually.

Lower back pain occasionally has a cyclical quality to it, reoccurring occasionally but generally getting worse with time, according to Dr. Palmer.

Dr. Dot Palmer also emphasizes that the underlying cause of lower back pain as well as the symptoms of the pain can differ from person to person. Considering the various reasons why lower back pain occurs.


The Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain are a Strain or Sprain

Your lumbar spine works throughout the entire day, whether you realize it or not. Acute injuries, such as those sustained while falling, lifting objects that are too heavy, or participating in sports, can happen amidst all of this activity and motion and cause a lower back sprain or strain. Repetitive motion or poor posture can also cause a sprain or strain over time.

The most frequent reasons for lower back pain, according to Dr. Palmer, are strained muscles or strained ligaments. While they may be serious, these common lower back pain causes aren't chronic; they can resolve within a few days or, at most, a few months.

Your doctor can assist you in choosing the specific self-care regimen that will most effectively treat your lower back pain.

According to Dr. Dot Palmer, "the treatment for a pulled back muscle or strained back ligament is relatively straightforward and can include pain and anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, ice to help reduce inflammation, heat to promote healing, and avoiding strenuous activity until the pain subsides."

Your injury's severity and overall core and lower body strength will determine the best course of treatment. It might be time to look into other causes of lower back pain if your pain doesn't go away despite treatment.


Common Causes of Chronic Lower Back Pain

The lumbar disks, nerves, joints, or vertebrae are more likely to be the source of chronic lower back pain than your muscles and ligaments, according to Dr. Dot Palmer. Chronic lower back pain may have a variety of causes.

The underlying causes of many different types of chronic lower back pain are typically osteoarthritis (the most prevalent form of arthritis) and degenerative disk disease (spinal disks' normal deterioration and wear and tear). However, trauma from accidents and severe stress can also contribute to lower back pain.

• Herniated Disk

The thoracic and lumbar spine of an adult is composed of about 17 bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of one another. The cushiony disk that sits in between each set of vertebrae helps to relieve pressure on these bones, according to Dr. Palmer.

Each disk consists of an inner gel and an outer rind.

One of the five disks in your lumbar spine can herniate if the inner gel of one of them slips or bulges past the outer rind, pressing on nearby nerves and resulting in pain. This slipping may result from an injury or from gradual aging-related wear and tear.

• Damage to the facet joints

Your lower back's facet joints—the joints that connect the five vertebrae—are subjected to heavy compressive loads and stresses. Lower back pain can develop over time as a result of the cartilage in your facet joints wearing down.

Dr. Dot Palmer explains that facet joint damage can result from osteoarthritis and can cause inflammation, stiffness, muscle spasming, and pain. This damage can be brought on by either poor posture or repeated overuse. Sciatica can also result from facet joint damage that impinges on a nearby nerve.

• Compression Fractures

"A spinal compression fracture happens when a lumbar spine vertebra essentially folds in on itself. Despite the fact that trauma can also be the cause of this, osteoporosis is frequently to blame, according to Dr. Palmer. People who have a lumbar compression fracture frequently experience sudden pain and limited spinal mobility as a result of this collapse, which can result in excruciating pain.

• Spinal Stenosis

When the spinal canal in your lower back becomes compressed, it is called lumbar spinal stenosis. It may be brought on by the development of bone spurs, thickening of a nearby ligament, or degeneration of a lumbar disk or joint.

According to Palmer, it can be excruciatingly painful when nerve roots are compressed. And spinal stenosis can result in sciatica, a pain that radiates down the lower extremities, in addition to lower back pain.


A lumbar vertebra that slips forward, over the top of the vertebra below, exerts significant compressive force on the lumbar disk that is separating the two vertebrae. Lower back pain may be caused by the lumbar disk degenerating. Additionally, if the lumbar disk flattens as a result of this force, sciatica and nerve compression may result.

Isthmic spondylolisthesis, one of the more frequent types of spondylolisthesis, is brought on by a fracture in the small bone fragment known as the pars interarticularis, which is located next to the facet joint. Although the pain is often not felt until later in life, the fracturing event frequently occurs when a person is still quite young, according to Dr. Palmer. Spondylolisthesis may also be brought on by inherited or congenital conditions.

• Scoliosis

Your spine naturally curves in an 'S' shape when viewed from the side, with your upper back curving backward and your lower back curving forward. Scoliosis, a spinal deformity that can cause back pain, is the term used when your spine curves sideways when viewed from behind.

Dr. Palmer issues the following warning: "When the spine adopts an improper curvature, it increases the likelihood of lumbar joint and disk degeneration.". "Scoliosis typically doesn't need to be treated, but severe curves can put a lot of strain on the lower back and cause pain.

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When to Visit a Specialist for Lower Back Pain

It's time to think about visiting a spine specialist, if your lower back pain is not improving with rest and self-care. To determine the underlying cause of your lower back pain, a spine specialist will likely conduct a physical examination in addition to one or more imaging scans. 

After determining your diagnosis, he or she will create a treatment plan aimed at reducing your pain and preventing it from interfering with the daily activities you enjoy, according to Dr. Palmer.

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