BPS 12: Lumbar Spine Pain — Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Our lumbar spine consists of interconnecting bones, nerves, joints, ligaments,and muscles. The lower back portion of the spine provides supports to the body. It also offers strength and flexibility. But the complex structure is also susceptible to injury resulting in pain.

In this article, you will learn about the causes of lumbar spine pain. You will also learn about the diagnosis and treatment option of the lower back pain.

What are the Causes of Lumbar Spine Pain?

A lot of different factors can contribute to lumbar spine pain. The pain can occur due to disc degeneration due to aging. It can also occur due to a wrong sitting posture or an injury to the ligaments, muscles, joints, or disc.

The lower back pain is one of the most used parts of the body. A simple motion such as bending and lifting involves the movement of the lumbar spine. The muscles at the back are responsible for rotating and flexing the hips. It also supports the spinal column. Overtime, the lumbar spine disc gets damaged due to wear and tear resulting in pain. Degenerated or damaged disc results in inflammation and muscle spasm in the area leading to lower back pain.

Types of Lumbar Spine Pain

Two common types of types of lower back pain include the following.

Radicular Pain — This type of lumbar spine or lower back pain is caused by a pinched spinal nerve. It can also occur when the nerve root becomes inflamed. The pain radiates down to the buttocks and leg. A person experiences sharp pain along with the feeling of weakness and numbness. The pain is generally felt on one side of the body.

Axial pain — Also known as mechanical pain, this is the most common lumbar spine pain. The pain mainly originates from the joints, ligaments, muscles, or bone around the spine. The pain is generally localized to the buttocks, lower back, and sometimes the legs. The pain may feel different depending on the type of activity i.e. walking, resting, standing, or sitting.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Lumbar Spine Pain

Lumbar spine pain is diagnosed based on physical examination and review of the symptoms. Some of the common symptoms associated with lumbar spine pain include

  • -Dull or achy pain in the back
  • -Burning or stinging pain that moves to the backs of things
  • -Tingling or numbness
  • -Tightness in the hips, pelvis, and lower back
  • -Muscle spasms
  • -Difficulty in walking, standing up straight, or changing positions
  • -Pain gets worse after prolonged standing or sitting

Apart from symptoms, the doctor also evaluates the onset and duration of the pain. Acute pain comes and go. It usually lasts for a few days. The pain generally goes away when the body heals on its own. Subacute pain lasts from a few weeks to months. It is generally mechanical pain causing joint pain or muscle strain. Lastly, chronic back pain lasts for more than months three months.

Treatment option for lumbar spine pain depends on the diagnosis of the condition. For subacute pain, doctors generally recommend nonsurgical treatment option. These include medications, back braces, epidural steroid injections, and physical therapies.

In most cases, the condition improves after nonsurgical treatment option. However, if the pain does not subside, the doctor may recommend surgical options such as decompression surgery, lumbar spinal fusion, and disc replacement.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.