Understanding the lower back anatomy
The low back is also called the lumbosacral area. Most of the low back muscles are attached to and surround the spine. The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The vertebrae disks are a combination of a strong fibrous outer layer and a softer, gel-like center. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible. Strong ligaments also attach to nearby vertebrae to give extra support and strength to the spine. The spinal cord, which contains the nerve pathways to and from the brain, is protected by the spine. Nerves from the spinal cord come out between the vertebrae to take and receive messages to various parts of the body.
What are the causes and symptoms of low back pain?
One of the leading causes of back pain, whether acute or chronic, is a low back strain. This is the type of back pain that most people will have at some point in their life. Sometimes there is no specific problem or disease that can be identified as the cause of the pain. In that case, the low back pain is mechanical in the sense that it varies with posture or activity. The severity of the pain can range from mild to severe.
Other causes of low back pain are:
- Pinched nerves
- Herniated discs
- Muscle pain
- Vertebral subluxation
In some cases, the pain might relate to the nerve root meaning that the nerve root coming out from the spinal cord is irritated or pressed on (often referred to as a trapped nerve). The pain can travel down to the leg or calf muscles. The irritation or pressure on the nerve may also cause pins and needles, numbness, or weakness in a buttock or foot.
Some of the low back-related condition might include:
- Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis and usually occurs in older people.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is another form of arthritis that can occur in young adults and causes pain and stiffness in the lower back.
- Rheumatoid arthritis may affect the spine, but you are likely to have other joints affected too.
- Various uncommon bone disorders, tumors, infections, and pressure from structures near the spine occasionally cause low back pain.
How long does the pain occur?
Most people with nonspecific low back pain improve quickly, usually within a week or so, sometimes slightly longer. However, once the pain has eased or gone, it is common to have further recurrences from time to time in the future. In a small number of cases, the pain persists for several months or longer. This is called chronic back pain.
Four out of five people initially come to a chiropractor because of back pain. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is the top-rated treatment for people suffering from low back pain. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is effective for back pain and musculoskeletal injuries – based on research and patient satisfaction. Using chiropractic for these problems should be a first choice course of action, especially since we provide a drug-free, non-invasive, personalized treatment plan.