Low Back Pain

Lower back is one of the most common health problems experienced by most people, at some point of their lives. People with low back pain may experience difficulty in performing daily routine activities. There are various causes of low back pain.

The most common causes of low back pain include:

  • Injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments and joints
  • Spinal conditions such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis causing pressure over the nerve roots, in the spinal canal
    • Herniated disc: Also known as slipped disc is a condition in which the central gelatinous part of the disc protrudes through a tear in the outer fibrous layer of the disc, causing a bulge and pressure over the surrounding nerves. The compression of the spinal nerves may cause back pain.
    • Spinal stenosis: It is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, most commonly caused by age related degenerative changes of the spine.
  • Osteoarthritis: Also called degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis, and is more common in older people. Osteoarthritis of the spine can cause back pain. Osteoarthritis of the hips can cause limping and may also lead to back pain.
  • Compression fractures of spinal vertebrae

Other rare causes of back pain include ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis of the spine), bacterial infection, and tumors of the spine.


Symptoms of a low back pain include:

  • Sharp back pain that may radiate to the buttocks or legs and is aggravated by movement
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness in the lower back
  • Muscle cramping or spasms
  • Tenderness over the affected region
  • Rarely, bowel or bladder dysfunction


An accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan are required for a successful outcome. Your doctor will arrive at a diagnosis and determine the cause of pain based on your medical history and the physical and neurological examination findings. Your doctor will also test your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensory perception. Diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans may be required to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out a spinal fracture. Electromyography (EMG) may also be done to reveal any muscle dysfunction.


Low back pain is commonly managed with non-surgical treatment without the need for spinal surgery. The non-surgical treatment options include activity modification, ice application, anti-inflammatory and pain medications, muscle relaxants, bracing, physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. To enhance the success of your treatment, your doctor may combine two or more treatment modalities.


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