Although back pain can occur anywhere it is most common in the lumbar region (lower back). Around 80% of adults will experience pain in this region at some point in their life. Repeat episodes are unfortunately common. There are numerous reasons why pain can occur which are discussed below. Fortunately there are various treatments available to help reduce your pain restore function and return you to your former self.
Lumbar Facet Strain/Lock
This type of injury often occurs rapidly causing sharp pain and a restricted sense of movement. Morning stiffness is common and the pain may radiate into your buttocks and down the back of thigh. This can also less commonly refer below the knee. Extending (leaning backward) and rotating the spine is often very uncomfortable. With acute cases (injuries that have just occurred) numerous positions and activities are likely to cause pain. It is very common and in most cases this injury resolves within a matter of days/weeks.
Lumbar Disc Herniation
Commonly and misleadingly referred to as a “slipped disc” this condition occurs when a material inside the inner portion of the disc known as the Nucleus pulposus (NP) protrudes into the outer portion of the disc the annulus fibrosis (AF). The degree of how much herniation has occurred varies. If the herniation is severe enough and/or within a certain plane it can pinch the nerve root leaving the vertebra. This can cause pain to be felt at different regions of the body. This is often the reason why pain can be felt as low as the leg and foot when the lower back has become injured.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease affecting at least 8 million people in the UK. Osteoarthritis usually affects those over the age of 50. When a joint has become osteoarthritic some of the cartilage (tissue at the end of the bones forming the joint) becomes worn and thin. This causes changes to occur as the body attempts to repair and stabilise the joint.
Changes that occur:
- Osteophytes (bony spurs) grow underneath where the cartilage has worn in an effort to protect the bone and add stabilisation.
- The synovium (inner most layer of the joint capsule that produces synovial fluid) can thicken and secrete more fluid causing your joint to swell.
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis there are many different treatments and techniques available to help manage it. The condition will not necessarily get worse as you get older. Many people take supplements such as glucosamine in an effort restore joint health, but unfortunately there is little evidence to suggest this is effective. Currently the best recommendations include physical therapy and exercise.