Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common types of back pain among sufferers. Lower back pain is the second most common reason for a missed day of work, behind the common cold. This condition rarely becomes life threatening. However, it can be nearly debilitating if left unchecked.
To better understand lower back pain, itís a good idea to know a little about the structures in the lower back. The spinal column is made up of small bone called vertebrae. In between these vertebrae are discs of cartilage that act as cushions. Their function is to support and cushion the weight of the body while also assisting in the movement of the body. In addition to these structures, there are also muscles which run the length of the spine and aid in the movement and stability of the body. Lastly, there are ligaments which link bone, cartilage, and other structures together. Within the spinal column are nerves that connect with other nerves throughout the body. When different types of back pain occur, the nerves are often at risk of being damaged since they can be easily pinched or constricted. The lower back specifically consists of five lumbar vertebrae. The lower back is responsible for turning, twisting, and bending. It is important for nearly all movement, which is why lower back pain can be almost debilitating if left unchecked.
There can be many different causes for lower back pain. Among the most common lower back pain causes are muscle strains and ligament sprain. Muscle strains are usually the result of lifting or exercising and occur when the muscles in the back are stretched abnormally or too much, resulting in tears in the fibrous tissue. The same behavior can lead to sprained ligaments as well. Lifting things improperly, not stretching before exercise or having too much exercise, having poor posture, and obesity are all contributing factors for strained muscles and sprained ligaments.
In addition to sprains and strains, osteoarthritis is also a common cause of lower back pain. This condition occurs when the cartilage between the vertebrae deteriorates or becomes thinner. This condition can be serious since it can cause chronic pain and also limit movement and cause stiffness. Age is a factor of this condition as well and people over the age of 50 are more at risk of developing this type of lower back pain.
Osteoporosis is another common cause of lower back pain. Most common among postmenopausal women, this condition occurs when bone density decreases. This condition causes bones to weaken and become brittle. It increases the chances for bone fractures which can also lead to spinal nerve damage if the nerves become pinched or compressed.
Herniated discs are also common factor for lower back pain. With this condition the discs of cartilage between the vertebrae begin to bulge out, or become herniated. This condition can be very painful and often can put pressure on nerves and other tissue in the spinal column. Most herniated discs occur in the lower back and occur in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Those who are older than 50 years of age do not need to worry so much about herniated discs since the discs become harder with age.
In most cases of lower back pain, the medical history, examination of the affected area, and the specific symptoms all are used to suggest the cause of pain. Causes other than strains and sprains may require imaging of the back, such as through an MRI.
Questions & Answers on: Low Back Pain
QUESTION: My lower back hurts about 75% of the time I move, even turning over in bed and walking. I drive a big concrete mixer truck for my job and the pain is so bad when I get out of the truck sometimes I have to crawl.
ANSWER: If you can recall and event where you severely hurt your back this could be the source of your pain. It sounds like you might have arthritis in your lower back, which could be the cause of this lower back pain and be the reason why after long periods of inactivity you feel like you need to crawl out of the truck. Arthritis of the spine can be eased by taking medication, physical therapy, exercise, heat/cold therapy, rest and possibly a brace to support the spine and keep the bones from rubbing together. If you feel like you might have arthritis, look at these factors that could put you at risk for this condition.
If you are:
Over 50, arthritis is more common.
Have had a job that involved lifting and repetitive motion.
Obesity which puts more pressure and stress on the joints in spine
Weakened immune system
These things are risk factors for developing arthritis. If you feel like the pain is so severe and debilitating, you should see a doctor for medications that can alleviate the pain and allow you to continue with your job.
Since you are a trucker and drive for extended periods of time, it is important to stop every now and then and stretch your spine, allowing fresh blood to come into the joints and keep them lubricated.
Sciatica could also be a cause of your back pain, if you feel numbness in your lower legs and buttocks, it could be a sign that you have a pinched nerve root of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can be greatly improved by stretching and gentle exercise, as well as medication to ease the pain. Sciatica symptoms generally improve over time, but if you feel like you are not improving, surgery to remove the portion of the disc that is putting pressure on the nerve root can be taken into consideration.
Talking with a doctor and having your spine examined is the only way to tell whether you have arthritis, sciatica or another common spinal problem that causes your back pain.