Lumbar strains and sprains account for most acute back pain. Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing of the ligaments, and strains are microtears in tendon or muscle. Both can occur from lifting something improperly, lifting something too heavy, or overstretching. A chronic (long-term) strain usually results from overuse after prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscles and tendons. Such movements may also trigger spasms or cramping in back muscles, which can also be painful.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease is a thinning of the rubbery cartilage (intervertebral discs) between the spinal vertebrae. Spinal discs act as cushions between the bony vertebrae and allow mobility of the spine. Symptoms of disc degeneration include chronic low back pain, which may radiate to the hips, or pain in the buttocks or thighs while walking. The pain may be felt, or may even increase while sitting, bending, lifting or twisting.
Lumbar Disc Syndrome
Lumbar Disc Syndrome is characterized by pain radiating from the low back (lumbar spine) to one or both legs. It may be caused by degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc or disc derangement. Pain is often due to pressure on a nerve that runs from the low back to the buttock or thigh.
Herniated Disc / Disc Bulge
A herniated disc results from a tear in the fibrous outer casing of an intervertebral disc. This tear allows the softer, central portion of the disc to bulge out. Disc bulge occurs when a disc is irritated or bulging, but not herniated. Symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on the location of the hernia and the type(s) of soft tissue that are involved. If the disc is the only tissue injured there is often little or no pain, but if nerve roots are irritated or impinged by the herniated material neck or low back pain can be unrelenting.
Often, herniated discs are not diagnosed immediately because patients come for treatment of undefined pains in the thighs, knees, or feet. Other symptoms of a herniated disc may include sensory changes such as numbness, tingling, muscular weakness, paralysis, and altered reflexes.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction is a condition in which the sacroiliac joint (located between the sacrum and pelvis) is “locked.” Usually there is inflammation of the joint, and surrounding ligaments and soft tissues. Too much or too little motion in the sacroiliac joint can cause this condition. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction is commonly characterized by low back and gluteal pain and may be accompanied by groin, hip, and sciatic leg pain.
Sciatic pain is usually felt in the lower back, buttock, or in parts of the leg and foot. In addition to the pain, which may be severe, sciatica can also cause numbness, muscular weakness, tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Pressure on the sciatic nerve may be the result of a herniated disk, muscle tension (such as that seen in Piriformis syndrome) or very rarely tumors or bony growths. The paired sciatic nerves originate from opposite sides of the lower spine and run the entire length of each leg.
Repetitive postures, such as sitting at a desk or driving a car can lead to poor blood circulation, muscle fatigue and imbalance, and improper alignment. Over time, these muscle imbalances and changes in alignment can cause postural pain.
The first step in our treatment plan for postural pain includes diagnosing and, to the extent possible, alleviating, the primary cause(s) of the pain. This may include suggesting changes to a patient’s workstation or environment, encouraging short breaks from a repetitive job or hobby, or meditation to reduce stress.