Why Does My Lower Back Hurt So Badly?

Jan 05, 2023
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Back pain is a common condition for millions, occurring frequently in your lumbar, or lower back, region. But if you’re dealing with severe lower back pain, what’s causing it? How can you get it treated? Read on to find out more.

Back pain is a worldwide problem, affecting 540 million people across the globe. Five percent of that total will go on to deal with chronic back pain, and 7.5 percent deal with lower back (lumbar) pain. Up to 80% of Americans will deal with back pain at some point in their lives, including 80 million working adults, with the number of sufferers on the rise.

Lower back pain is very common, and if it becomes severe, it can affect your ability to function normally and can lead to missed work and worse physical complications. If you live in the Chicago, Illinois, area, and you’re struggling with lower back pain, our team of physicians at Michigan Avenue Primary Care can help.

Let’s examine the signs of lower back pain, the causes and risk factors, and how it can be treated.

Signs of lower back pain

Depending on what’s causing your lower back pain, your symptoms can start gradually or quickly, and your pain may be sharp or dull. 

Signs of lumbar pain include:

  • Stiffness (often just after waking up or after a period of inactivity)
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Pain after sitting, lifting something, bending, or resting for long periods

Rather than just experiencing pain in your lower back, you may feel it in your gluteal muscles or your hips as well.

Less common or severe signs of lumbar pain can include pain in your lower extremities, lack of bowel control, fever, and unintentional weight loss.

Causes and risk factors of lower back pain

Lumbar pain, whether it’s mild or severe, can stem from numerous issues.

Musculoskeletal problems

Sprains and strains of tendons and ligaments can occur as a result of lifting something too heavy or even bending, twisting your back, or sneezing.

Spinal fractures

Accidents are often the cause of fractures in your spine, but conditions like spondylolysis and osteoporosis can also lead to fractures or breaks.

Disc problems

Spinal discs act as cushions between your vertebrae, and if they get damaged (a herniated or bulging disc) they can press on your nerves and cause pain. They can also flatten as you get older (degenerative discs) and lead to pain and damage. 

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common source of back pain, but other forms, such as ankylosing spondylitis can also create lower back pain as well as stiffness and inflammation.

Diseases

Infections, spinal tumors, cancers, and other problems can directly affect your lower back, but illnesses near this area such as kidney stones, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and other pelvic illnesses can also cause back pain.

Structural conditions

Conditions like scoliosis or spinal stenosis can affect the shape of your spine, causing pain and other symptoms. Sciatica can also be caused by pressure on your sciatic nerve.

Methods of treatment for lower back pain

Treatment options will vary depending on the cause of your pain, but there are several ways to get relief. Medications like muscle relaxers, steroid injections, and, in severe pain cases, opioids can help ease your pain. Back braces can help stabilize your back and heal your spine. 

If surgery is necessary, spinal decompression, spinal fusion, or artificial disc surgery can be used, along with posterior motion devices for specific conditions that can allow for faster recovery than some of the other options.

Lower back pain can be severe, but we can help you find relief. If you’re ready to be free of lumbar pain at long last, make an appointment with our team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care today to get started. Call our office or schedule your visit online.