Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), lower back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability, and 80% of Americans will experience lower back pain during their lifetime. Unfortunately, lower back pain is sometimes inevitable because many of our daily activities can lead to pain in this area. Some examples of daily activities that can lead to lower back pain include:
- Non-contact sports
- Consuming a poor diet
- Consuming energy drinks
- Pushing a stroller
- Carrying groceries
- Mowing the lawn
- Sitting at a desk for long periods
- Climbing the stairs
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Reading in bed
- Going for a walk
- Performing exercises incorrectly
- Cleaning and doing laundry
- Brushing teeth and shaving
This pain is considered chronic if it lasts for more than three months and when the body’s healing process becomes inhibited. When some of the activities above are performed in excess or an excess amount of pressure is placed on the disc, the result is often a joint problem or irritated nerve root. Some of the conditions that can result from these activities and cause lower back pain include:
- Lumbar herniated disc
When discs become herniated, they are typically in an early stage of degeneration. Because the spinal canal has limited space, the space there is inadequate for the spinal nerve and the displaced herniated disc fragment. The displacement leads to additional pressure on the spinal nerves, having the potential to produce severe pain.
- Degenerative disc disease
If the proteins in the disc space come into contact with surrounding spinal structures, the proteins can produce inflammation in the area, which can cause lower back spasms and nerve root pain.
- Facet joint dysfunction
This is an arthritis-like condition of the spine that can cause back and neck pain. The joints between the spine bones undergo degenerative changes with facet joint dysfunction. The facet joint has cartilage that can break down and become inflamed, leading to pain signals in the nearby nerve endings.
- Spinal stenosis
When there is insufficient space within the spine for the spinal cord and nerves that branch off the spinal cord, the result can be a spinal cord or nerves that become irritated or pinched, causing spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis often occurs in the lower back and the neck. Some individuals with this condition might not experience symptoms, while others can experience pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness that worsens with time.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition that involves spine instability, which happens when the vertebrae move excessively and a vertebra slips out of place onto the vertebra below. This puts pressure on the nerve, leading to lower back pain or leg pain. Spinal instability with this condition can also cause tension in the hamstrings, which pulls on the lower back and leads to even more pain.
There is a variety of deformities that can lead to lower back pain, including kyphosis, lordosis, and flatback syndrome. These are the result of abnormal curvatures and positioning of the spine that leads to pain for the patient.
Osteoarthritis, or OA, is caused by deterioration of the cartilage around joints in the lower back. It can also lead to weakness or numbness in the legs or arms.
- Compression fracture
Compression fractures most commonly occur as a result of another condition like osteoporosis. Compression fractures tend to happen in the front of the vertebra when part of the area collapses due to inability to support the weight of the spine.
Of course, lower back pain can also be caused by trauma and acute injuries, which can be helped a great deal by physical therapy.
Lower Back Exercises for Pain Relief
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we are happy to work with each patient to discover the source of their lower back pain and create a treatment plan to help them find long-term relief. There are specific movements that can help relieve lower back pain, but it is important to learn the correct ways to do them in order to avoid excessive stress and pressure on the back which can make symptoms worse. Some common exercises we might recommend for lower back pain relief include:
- Partial crunches
Partial crunches are a great way to build strength in the lower back and stomach muscles, so it is a great exercise for those with lower back pain, particularly spondylosis.
- Hamstring stretches
Hamstring stretches are a great way to relieve pain in the back of the leg, where some of the muscles that support the lower spine are located. Hamstrings can also reduce bodily injuries over time, increase flexibility, and improve posture.
- Wall squats
Wall squats allow you to experience the benefits of a squat without causing additional stress to the lower back. Wall squats also build strength and endurance in the glutes, calves, quads, and abdominal muscles.
- Press-up back extensions
Because press-up back extensions strengthen the muscles in the butt, hips, and shoulders, they are a great way to tone the lower back and core. Press-up back extensions often help relieve symptoms of disc problems.
If you are suffering with lower back pain, you are not alone. Call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online to learn how our team can teach you the proper ways to improve your specific condition.