Lower Back Pain Symptoms and Possible Causes

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There has certainly been an increase in awareness of the importance of back care to avoid lower back pain and its associated injuries.  Proper lifting techniques, avoiding overuse or strain of the back and being aware of your body and how it feels will all help keep your back in good shape for years to come.  If you’re experiencing some form of lower back pain, this can be caused by a variety of issues. 

Muscle or ligament injury

The single most common form of lower back pain comes from a torn or pulled ligament or muscle.  This type of injury can either develop over a long period of time (usually as a result of repetitive movements) or suddenly by a quick injury from a single and isolated movement.  During a strain injury, the muscle tears from being stretched too far in one direction.  With regards to a sprain, the damaged muscle affects the ligaments (the parts of your body that connects your bones).  Both of these types of injuries are treated in the same way.   


– twisting while lifting or lifting too heavy an object

– a fall

– consistent poor posture

– sports related injuries

Causes of Chronic Lower Back Pain

If your back pain lasts for more than 3 months, and is outside the normal range for healing (for your type of injury) it’s considered chronic.  This might be an indication of a joint or disc issue, or an irritated nerve or nerve root.  There are many different possible causes.

Lumbar herniated disc.  In this case, the nerve root is aggravated due to contact with the inner layer of the lumbar disc which has broken through the outer layer and contains inflammation causing proteins. 

Degenerative disc disease.  As we age, our intervertebral discs lose their water content, meaning that it doesn’t have the same resistance to force and can lead to tears in the disc wall and even herniation.  In severe cases, the disc can even collapse.   

Facet joint dysfunction.    In each motion segment of your lumbar spine, there are two facet joints that contain cartilage between the bones.  A capsular ligament surrounds them and is full of sensitive nerves.  These joints can become inflamed, causing pain both in the joints and discs. 

Spinal stenosis.  In a case of spinal stenosis, pain is caused due to a narrowing of the spinal canal (which contains nerve roots). 

Osteoarthritis.  Spinal osteoarthritis is commonly developed with age and progresses slowly.  The pain is due to the long term wear of the disc and facet joints.  

Back pain can also be caused by a deformity, such as scoliosis, after some form of trauma (dislocation or fracture), excess weight, or even (although far less commonly) a tumour, autoimmune disease or a spinal infection.  Whatever is the cause of your back pain, whether acute or chronic, it is in your best interest to seek the medical advice from a trusted doctor for your recovery plan and pain relief and management.

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