Dr. Mark S. Cantieri • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Lower Back Pain
Your lower back supports most of the weight of your body, and it provides mobility for nearly every action you take, especially for bending and twisting, and the muscles in your lower back help you flex and rotate your hips when you are walking. The nerves in your lower back give power and sensation to the muscles in your pelvis, legs, and feet. Because so much of your body and so many of your activities depend on the lower back, it is more susceptible to injury and pain than some other parts of the body.
People with low back pain and/or leg pain often report difficulty with sleeping (falling asleep and/or staying asleep), depression and anxiety, and waking up stiff and sore.
If low back pain is interfering with your daily activities, mobility, or sleep, or if there are other troubling symptoms, you should call today for an evaluation.
Types of Lower Back Pain
Understanding what type of lower back pain you are having can help the Doctor to accurately diagnose and effectively treat your pain. It is critical to obtain an accurate diagnosis that identifies the underlying cause of the pain, and doesn’t just focus on the symptomsto design the correct treatment plan.
Most acute low back pain results from injury to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The body reacts to injury by mobilizing an inflammatory healing response. (No new paragraph) Sometimes the location of the pain is not an accurate indicator of the source of the problem, because it can be difficult for the brain to accurately sense which is the cause of the pain. For example, a chronic foot or low back injury can alter one’s posture and movement creating a pain perception in the neck, when the neck has never actually experienced an injury.
Here is a brief list of the different types of lower back pain you may be experiencing.
Dull, aching pain. Pain within the low back is often described as dull and aching rather than burning, stinging, or sharp. Dull, aching pain is sometimes accompanied by muscle spasms, limited mobility, and aches in the hips and pelvis.
Pain that travels to the buttocks, legs, and feet. Sometimes low back pain includes a sharp, stinging, tingling or numb sensation that moves down the thighs and into the lower legs and feet. This is sometimes also called sciatica. Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is usually only felt on one side of the body. Ligament and tendon injuries in the low back and/or hips can mimic sciatic pain. A physician must be able to differentiate these correctly in order to help the patient..
Pain that is worse after prolonged sitting. Sitting puts pressure on the discs, causing low back pain to worsen after sitting for long periods of time. Walking and stretching can alleviate low back pain quickly, but returning to a sitting position may cause symptoms to return. Sacroiliac joint injuries and hip injuries are also worse with prolonged sitting as well as with prolonged standing, unlike disc injuries.
Pain that feels better when changing positions. Depending on the underlying cause of pain, some positions will be more comfortable than others. For example, with spinal stenosis walking normally may be difficult and painful, but leaning forward on something such as a grocery cart, walker or cane or sitting will reduce the pain.
Pain that is worse after waking up and better after moving around. Many people who experience low back pain report symptoms that are worse first thing in the morning. After getting up and moving around, however, symptoms are relieved. This is a very common complaint in patients with chronic ligament sprains that respond well to prolotherapy..
Symptoms That Require Immediate Attention
Sometimes low back pain can signal a serious underlying medical condition. People who experience any of the following symptoms are advised to seek immediate care.
Loss of bladder and bowel control
Recent weight loss not due to lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise
Fever and chills
Severe, unrelenting pain in the abdomen
After a major trauma such as a car accident you may experience acute pain in your lower back immediately, but in some cases pain may not appear until days, weeks or months after the accident.
Low Back Pain from a Sprain or Strain
A low back sprain or strain can happen suddenly or can develop slowly over time from repetitive movements. While sprains and strains do not sound serious they can create chronic pain issues at the site of the injury.
Strains occur when the muscle is stretched too far and tears, Sprains happen when over-stretching and tearing affects ligaments, which connect the bones together. The symptoms and treatment are similar for each. Common causes of sprain and strain include:
Lifting a heavy object, or twisting the spine while lifting
Sudden movements that place too much stress on the low back, such as a fall
Poor posture over time
Sports injuries, especially in sports that involve twisting or large forces of impact
Repetitive work over months or years
Motor vehicle accidents, i.e. whiplash or hip and sacroiliac joint injuries when the victim has their foot on the brake or floorboard at the time of impact.
Treating Low Back Pain
Treatment options for low back pain are tailored to the needs of each individual patient. Dr. Cantieir will diagnose the source of your pain and provide recommendations for treatment.