Lower back pain is one of the leading reasons people in the United States visit their doctors. It will inhibit the lives of millions of Americans this year. In fact, an average four out of five adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. So the question, “What is causing my lower back pain?” is not uncommon.
Lower back pain can be excruciating. It can be caused by a large variety of injuries or conditions, such as:
* lower back muscles may be strained
* discs between the vertebrae may be injured
* large nerve roots extending to arms and legs may be irritated
* smaller nerves that supply the lower back spine may be irritated
* joints, ligaments, or even bones may be injured
When lower back pain occurs with other symptoms such as fever and chills, a serious medical condition may be present. You should see a doctor immediately.
Three categories of lower back pain
Your lower back pain will fall into one of three categories, which your doctor bases on your description of the pain.
1. Axial lower back pain – mechanical or simple back pain
2. Radicular lower back pain – sciatica
3. Lower back pain with referred pain
1. Axial Lower back pain
Axial lower back pain is the most common of the three. It is felt only in the lower back area with no pain radiating to other parts of the body. It is sometimes called mechanical back pain or simple back pain.
* Description: Axial lower back pain can vary greatly. It may be sharp or dull, constant or intermittent. On a scale of 1 to 10, you may rate its intensity #1 or a full #10. It may increase with certain activity – when playing tennis, for example. It may worsen in certain positions – such as sitting at a desk. It may or may not be relieved by rest.
* Diagnosis: Axial lower back pain might be diagnosed by you rather than your physician. You know it started when you were helping a friend move a heavy couch. On the other hand, it may be your doctor who determines that you have strained or otherwise damaged back muscles, have a degenerated disc, etc.
* Treatment: The cause of your axial lower back pain does not matter when it comes to treatment. You will want to rest for a day or two. Follow this by gentle back pain exercises and stretching. If you have more pain after exercise, use a heating pad on low or medium setting. Take an appropriate over-the-counter pain medication. Follow your doctor’s advice.