Lower Back Issues

Low Back Pain

Causes
Low back pain is one of the main reasons people visit their doctor. For adults over 40, it ranks third as a cause for doctor visits, after heart disease and arthritis.

Eighty percent of people will have low back pain at some point in their lives. And nearly everyone who haslow back pain once will have it again.

Very few people who feel pain in their low back have a serious medical problem. Ninety percent of people who experience low back pain for the first time get better in two to six weeks. Only rarely do people with low back pain develop chronic back problems.

With these facts in mind, you can be assured that back pain is common, that it usually only causes problems for a short period of time, and that you can take steps to ease symptoms and prevent future problems.

Symptoms
Symptoms from low back problems vary. They depend on a person’s condition and which structures are affected. Some of the more common symptoms of low back problems are:

  • low back pain
  • pain spreading into the buttocks and thighs
  • pain radiating from the buttock to the foot
  • back stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • muscle weakness in the hip, thigh, leg, or foot
  • sensory changes (numbness, prickling, or tingling) in the leg, foot, or toes

Rarely, symptoms involve changes in bowel or bladder function. A large disc herniation that pushes straight back into the spinal canal can put pressure on the nerves that go to the bowels and bladder. The pressuremay cause symptoms of low back pain, pain running down the back of both legs, and numbness or tingling between the legs in the area you would contact if you were seated on a saddle. The pressure on the nerves can cause a loss of control in the bowels or bladder.

This is an emergency.

If the pressure isn’t relieved, it can lead to permanent paralysis of the bowels and bladder. This condition is called cauda equina syndrome. Doctors recommend immediate surgery to remove pressure from the nerves.