Low Back Pain
Most cases of back pain occur in the lower back, also known as the lumbar region. This problem is so common that almost everyone has had it at least once in their lifetime. There are multiple conditions that can cause low back pain. This article will explore these conditions in more detail and provide information on available treatment options for lower back pain in Knoxville, TN pain clinic.
Pain Management in Knoxville, TN
What are the causes of low back pain?The spine is a complex structure. It is an interconnected web of bones, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and ligaments. This complexity opens up many possibilities for things going wrong and translating into back pain. At times, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact source of the pain. Let’s discuss the most prevalent causes.
Pulled muscle or ligamentOne of the most common causes of lower back pain is a pulled muscle or ligament. It usually happens when a muscle is overstretched from lifting a heavy object, a fall, or a sports injury. This type of pain can be mild or severe but typically goes away on its own in a matter of days or weeks.
Poor PostureMaintaining poor posture for a long time can strain your back muscles and spinal disks, causing stiffness and pain. Sitting unsupported, hunching while sitting or walking, or reading while lying on your belly are prime examples of poor posture. Practicing good posture techniques can help alleviate this type of back pain. If the pain doesn’t improve after three months, it’s considered chronic. The main causes of chronic low back pain are:
OsteoarthritisAs a result of “wear and tear” during the course of life, the cartilage in the spinal joints starts to break down, inducing inflammation and progressive pain in the back. Lumbar spine osteoarthritis affects around a third of Americans over 55 years old. The pain from osteoarthritis is more noticeable when you bend or twist your back but subsides when you lie down. Other symptoms include loss of flexibility in the spine, swelling of the affected area, and, in more serious cases, weakness in the legs.
Degenerative Disk DiseaseAs we age, our spine loses hydration, and the disk walls become more prone to tears and weakening. Disk degeneration is a natural aging process and it’s estimated that everyone over 60 years old has it to some degree even if they don’t experience any symptoms. In about 5% of people, it can cause back pain. In this condition pain often comes and goes, and gets better when changing positions. Walking and running ease the pain, while prolonged sitting and standing aggravate it.
Herniated diskSpinal disks are full of soft filling that can leak out and put pressure on the surrounding nerves. It can happen as a result of lifting heavy objects or exercising too hard, or sometimes simply as a part of aging. Every year 2% of the population, mainly people between 30 and 55 years old, suffer from a herniated disk. The main symptoms are sharp pain, numbness, and tingling on one side of your back, which often radiate to the leg (sciatica).
Spinal StenosisOsteoarthritis can cause another complication called spinal stenosis, in which the spinal canal gradually becomes narrower, compressing the nerve traveling through it. This condition can sometimes be a result of a spine injury. Spinal stenosis affects around 200,000 Americans over 65 years old. Aside from the back pain, the symptoms include sciatica (pain in the leg), numbness, weakness or loss of sensations in the legs and feet, as well as difficulty with walking and balance. In rare cases, strong progressive back pain can be a sign of a more serious condition.
How is the root cause of low back pain diagnosed?Diagnosing the underlying condition of back pain is usually based on the patient’s medical history and description of the pain and related symptoms. A physical exam helps determine the range of motion and whether the pain is affecting the nerves. In most cases, imaging techniques are not required for the diagnosis of back pain in Knoxville, TN pain clinic, but they might be necessary if the pain is severe, persistent, and doesn’t respond to treatment.
How to treat lower back pain?The first step in treating back pain is avoiding strenuous activity. It is recommended to keep up gentle activity levels, if possible, as prolonged resting can delay recovery. Common painkillers, such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Tylenol, can provide pain relief during the healing process. A warm bath or a hot water bottle help relax the muscles, while ice packs reduce swelling from inflammation. Physical therapy, for example stretching and strengthening exercises, can also be beneficial. Opioids might be prescribed if the pain doesn’t respond to the above treatment but are not recommended for long-term use due to the side effects. Epidural steroid injections are an effective method of pain relief for lower back pain caused by a compressed nerve – a set of conditions known as radiculopathy, which include herniated disks, spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, osteoarthritis, and many more. The injections temporarily reduce or eliminate pain by delivering a combination of steroid and anesthetic medication directly to the affected nerve. Manual manipulation, acupuncture, and massage are sometimes used as treatments for back pain, although the evidence of their effectiveness is insufficient. If the pain is severe, long-term, and doesn’t respond to treatment surgery might be an option. Surgery options include:
- spinal fusion – fusing together adjacent spine segments to improve stability,
- decompression – removing a part of the bone to release pressure on a spinal nerve, and
- disk replacement – replacing a degenerated spinal disk with an artificial one.
ConclusionLow back pain is a very common condition with many causes. While some stem from strained muscles and ligaments, others develop as a result of degeneration of the essential parts of the spine. Physical therapy and over-the-counter painkillers are the main self-care methods in the early stages of lower back pain. Most cases resolve themselves after a few days, but if you notice that your back pain is not improving, it is important to contact your doctor. The doctor will establish the underlying root of the pain and recommend the appropriate physical therapy and pain management options.
Lower back pain treatment in Knoxville, TNOmega Pain Management with Igor Smelyansky MD, a Knoxville Pain Clinic, is a recognized leading edge team with the latest innovative technologies to create a concrete plan of action to help your control and ultimately eliminate your troublesome lower back pain. You deserve relief. ACT NOW! Call 865-337-5137 and get pain-free TODAY! Click on the following links if you want to find out more about Dr. Igor Smelyansky and Omega Pain Management Clinic
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