There is not a more pathetic situation in life than when your body is immobilized by a painful chronic condition for which it is difficult to find an exact reason. Back pain is one such condition that is complex in itself for diagnosis and a personalized experience for every individual. Back pain, particularly the lower back pain, is enigmatic for diagnosis as it involves many anatomical conditions which lead to this disease. Given its diagnostic complexity and a patient’s expectation to have transparent and accurate information of the treatment procedure, it becomes imperative for the patient to understand this disease thoroughly.
How is lower back pain different from upper back pain?
The nomenclature itself explains the difference. However, there is a lot of difference between them regarding the cause, diagnosis, and best treatment options to choose.
Its diagnosis depends on identifying the area from which the pain generates, its distribution, and the effect.
For example, back pain can be
1) Axial pain: Pain which concentrates at one spot or region
2) Referred pain: Pain that moves around and varies in intensity
3) Radicular pain: Pain which follows the path of the spinal cord
The absurdity with lower back pain is that even doctors find it difficult to pinpoint the reason in some cases despite having access to the most advanced imaging tools.
Symptoms of lower back pain
• Dull or sharp pain which comes suddenly or appears gradually
• Pain getting worse with certain positions and gets better when you lie down
• Stiffness in the spine, which makes changing your position difficult
• Difficulty in keeping the correct posture
• Contraction in muscles causing pain and making it difficult to stand, walk or move.
Types of lower back pain
Lower back pain can be classified into three types, depending on the nature of pain.
1. Non-specific muscular pain :
It is caused by muscle strain and is the most common form of lower back pain. Intense muscular pain on one or both sides of the lower back is the most commonly identified symptom in the non-specific muscular type of back pain. Activities that cause stress to the lower back, such as lifting, twisting, and stretching can give this kind of pain.
2. Muscle spasms :
Muscle spasms, that result from bending, heavy lifting, and other physically straining activities, also cause lower back pain. Here, the patients can recall when the pain started exactly. This pain shoots up at once instead of progressing.
3. Radicular pain :
A sharp shooting pain that starts in the back, radiating into one or both legs, is the characteristic feature of this type of back pain. Degeneration of disc or pinching of the nerve roots is the reason for this type of back pain.
Apart from physical strain, certain conditions might cause lower back pain. While diagnosing lower back pain, it is important that these conditions are identified and ruled out.
• Sprains and strain caused by overuse of ligaments and tendons :
When certain parts of the spine are damaged, the responsibility of holding the body’s weight and taking the pressure falls on the surrounding ligaments and tendons. Overuse happens in degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis.
• Abnormal spinal curvature
The curvature of a healthy spine supports the body structure. Any deviation can cause strain on the muscles by stretching them unnecessarily, causing inflammation and pain. Conditions like lordosis, kyphosis and Scoliosis can cause the abnormal structure of the spine. It can involve displacement from the normal position, abnormal curvature, or absence of curvature.
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects joints in our body. Since the spinal cord has many joints, it can be affected by various types of arthritis such as spondylosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis, spinal tumors. When pain numbs your senses, and you have no clue what is causing the pain, then it is time you visit a spine specialist. Our spine doctors at Anupama Hospitals can make your treatment process comprehensible and help make the right decision