In the US, lower back pain is one of the most common conditions and one of the leading causes of physician visits. In fact, at least four out of five adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.
The severity of the pain is often unrelated to the extent of physical damage.
Muscle spasm from a simple back strain can cause excruciating low back pain that can make it difficult to walk or even stand, whereas a large herniated disc or completely degenerated disc can be completely painless.
There are a few symptoms that are possible indications of a serious medical condition requiring surgery, and patients with these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms include:
The causes of lower back pain can be very complex, and there are many structures in the lower back that can cause pain. The following parts of spinal anatomy can cause pain:
It is important to note that many types of lower back pain have no known anatomical cause, but the pain is still real and needs to be treated. However, usually lower back pain can be linked to a general cause (such as muscle strain) or a specific and diagnosable condition (such as degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc).
The vast majority of lower back pain will get better with time and can be addressed with conservative treatments, such as rest, physical therapy, pain medications, chiropractic manipulation, etc. However, it is important to note that there are a few symptoms that indicate the need for emergency surgery.