Feeling back pain? You’re not alone! For some people it’s a mild discomfort, for others it’s sheer agony. Some of it has to do with the way that each of us perceives and manages pain, and a big part of it is the actual source of our pain.
Though everybody’s pain is different, there are two main categories of back pain origins: those that are caused by trauma and those that are caused by wear and tear. Pain that is felt in the lower back is referred to as lumbar back pain: the lumbar region is made up of the five biggest vertebrae of the spine. These large bones are separated by discs that act as a sort of cushion, protecting the bones from banging against each other. They also protect the spinal cord, from which our nerves spread throughout our bodies.
When it comes to lower back pain caused by trauma, the two most common diagnoses are a herniated or slipped disc, and physical injury resulting from a sprain or a strain. A herniated or slipped disc refers to damage or dislocation of the discs that cushion the vertebrae that is a result of lifting improperly, attempting to lift something that is too heavy, twisting or tearing motions that can be a result of either effort or having been injured (as can happen in an automobile or sports accident). When the disc tears or is out of place, it can end up coming into contact with or compressing the root nerves, and that causes pain, tingling, and numbness.
The other trauma-based cause of back pain similarly comes from overexertion or physical strain, but instead of damaging the discs, it is the muscles, ligaments and tendons supporting the spine that are injured. When these structures incur damage, they swell and become inflamed, leading to pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility.
When lower back pain is caused by genetic issues or wear and tear, the condition is considered chronic rather than acute. Two of the most common causes of chronic back pain are spinal stenosis and ankylosing spondylitis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space within the spine. It puts pressure on the same nerves that are impacted by herniated discs, and leads to the same type of pain, tingling and numbness. It is a degenerative condition that is caused by wear and tear and aging. Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of spinal arthritis that leads to degeneration and inflammation. Both cause discomfort, stiffness and pain.
Whether your pain is a result of an accident or injury or it has evolved over time as a result of wear and tear, it is important that you seek experienced and knowledgeable medical help to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of your life. To set up an appointment with our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey, contact us today.