The lumbar spine, or low back, is a remarkably well-engineered structure of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles all working together to provide support, strength, and flexibility. However, this complex structure also leaves the low back susceptible to injury and pain.
The Low Back: What is causing the pain?
The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides mobility for everyday motions such as bending and twisting. Muscles in the low back are responsible for flexing and rotating the hips while walking, as well as supporting the spinal column. Nerves in the low back supply sensation and power the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
There are 3 main types of Low Back Pain:
This can be a cause of acute or chronic pain in the low back. By far the most common cause of lower back pain, mechanical pain (axial pain) is pain primarily from the muscles, ligaments, joints (facet joints, sacroiliac joints), or bones in and around the spine. This type of pain tends to be localized to the lower back, buttocks, and sometimes the top of the legs. It is usually influenced by loading the spine and may feel different based on motion (forward/backward/twisting), activity, standing, sitting, or resting.
Discogenic pain is a common degenerative condition where the changes causes increase pressure on the disc.Typically, discogenic pain is associated with activities that increase the pressure within the intervertebral disc (called intradiscal pressure).
Sitting, bending forward, coughing and sneezing can increase low back discogenic pain.
Leg pain caused by pinching of the nerves in the low back may also accompany low back discogenic pain; especially while sitting, standing or walking.
Discogenic low back pain is usually a chronic disorder.
Nerve root compression can lead to radiculopathy, causing distal pain and symptoms radiculated from the lower back. This type of pain can occur if a spinal nerve root becomes impinged or inflamed. Radicular pain may follow a nerve root pattern or dermatome down into the buttock and/or leg. Its specific sensation is sharp, electric, burning-type pain and can be associated with numbness or weakness. This syndrome and its associated symptoms are colloquially referred to as, "sciatica" and it is typically felt on only one side of the body.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck.
Some people with spinal stenosis may not have symptoms. Others may experience pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Symptoms can worsen over time.
Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by spinal wear-and-tear related to osteoarthritis. In severe cases of spinal stenosis, doctors may recommend surgery to create additional space for the spinal cord or nerves.
3 Quick Tips to Improve Low Back Pain
Regular exercising can help with relieving of pain and stiffness. Here are a few exercises you can try at home:
Take a break every 15-20 minutes at work and do the following stretches/ exercises.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet to decrease potential irritation of nerves, tendons and muscles. The easiest way to reduce inflammation through nutritional therapy is to remove refined sugar, dairy and gluten from diet.