Low back pain is a symptom that can be associated with various medical conditions. They can be permanent or periodic, local or generalized.
If a person has pain in the lumbar spine, he is prescribed a comprehensive examination to identify its cause.
Possible causes of low back pain and its characteristics
Back pain can be caused by various reasons, depending on which the severity of discomfort varies. Pain syndrome reduces the quality of a person's life, limits mobility, and makes it impossible to perform everyday tasks.
There are many causes of back pain in the lumbar region. Some of them are quite serious and require immediate specialist intervention.
Lumbar sciatica is a disease of the musculoskeletal system, in which there is compression and inflammation of the spinal roots. This pathology is of a secondary nature, as it develops against the background of degenerative processes of the musculoskeletal system.
Common symptoms in this case are:
- Pain syndrome, aggravated by sudden movements, lifting weights. The localization of pain depends on the degree of damage. The syndrome can affect the lumbar and gluteal regions, back or front of the thigh. If there is damage to the nerve endings that are under the first and second lumbar discs, then the patient has lumbago in the lumbar region and buttocks.
- Increase in the severity of pain when coughing, sneezing.
- Inability to stay in one position for a long time.
- Mobility disorders: inability to freely tilt the trunk forward, backward or to the sides, inability to bend the fingers of the lower extremities.
With radiculitis of the lumbar spine, pain usually appears suddenly, stops spontaneously. The next time the pain becomes more acute, pronounced.
Osteoporosis of the spine is a phenomenon in which the process of calcium leaching from the bones occurs and the activity of cells responsible for bone growth is disrupted. Under such conditions, bones are rapidly destroyed, their density is constantly decreasing. Osteoporosis is difficult to suspect in the early stages of development.
Most often, the patient feels a sharp pain in the lumbar region at a time of strong tension - with a sharp turn of the body, falling, lifting weights.
In addition to severe lower back pain, osteoporosis has such manifestations as:
- chronic fatigue;
- abdominal bulging;
- impaired mobility of the spine.
With a compression fracture, provoked by osteoporosis of the lumbar spine, there is acute pain, which increases with palpation of the affected area, as well as muscle spasm.
With scoliosis of the lumbar spine, its structures deviate to the right or to the left. These changes are reflected in the state of the surrounding tissues: they are irritated, foci of inflammation appear in the musculo-ligamentous structures.
Left-sided scoliosis is most often diagnosed. In left-handed people, scoliosis develops on the right side.
At the initial stage, lumbar scoliosis may not appear in any way. Negative changes can be traced only by the results of X-ray examination.
The characteristic symptoms in this case, in addition to severe pain in the lumbar spine, are:
- swelling in the lumbar region;
- chest pain;
- displacement of the pelvic girdle, due to which one lower limb becomes shorter relative to the other;
- blade divergence.
Characteristic features of pain in scoliosis of the lumbar spine: its appearance at the start of physical activity, a decrease in the intensity of discomfort when walking. Pain is usually short-lived.
Lumbar contusions occur during falls, blows. The lumbar region is most susceptible to trauma.
Contusions of the lumbar spine are closed damage to tissues and part of the spinal column, which does not cause anatomical abnormalities. Often this type of injury occurs in athletes, as well as people working in the workplace.
When bruised, the following additional symptoms are observed:
- hematoma formation;
- redness of the skin;
- increased pain when pressing on the injury site.
If the contusion is severe, the conduction of nerve impulses in certain zones of the lumbar spine may be disturbed, in some cases, complete loss of sensitivity.
Lumbar injuries are more symptomatic and include the following:
- pain when probing the affected area;
- growing hematoma;
- pain when turning the body, inability to bend;
- swelling in the ankle area, which indicates poor circulation;
- paralysis and paresis of the lower limbs.
Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is another likely cause of lumbar pain. In this case, the joints located in this area are affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain most often occurs at night, usually towards morning. At the initial stage, the syndrome can be suppressed with the help of special exercises, but by the night the pain reappears.
Other symptoms: increased local temperature over the affected area, accumulation of fluid in the cavities of the affected joint.
Osteochondrosis is a pathological process in which the intervertebral discs lose their elasticity. As the disease progresses, cracks form in them, and hernias form.
At the initial stage of osteochondrosis, lower back pain occurs rarely and does not differ in intensity. In the future, they acquire a pronounced chronic character. The patient feels stiffness in movement, constant fatigue. Difficulty bending and extending the back.
Pain often radiates to the lower extremities. In parallel, tingling, numbness occurs.
An increase in the intensity of unpleasant sensations occurs with increasing physical exertion, making sudden movements, lifting weights.
If the back hurts in the lumbar region, it may be associated with such a dangerous pathology as cancer. In this case, a malignant tumor does not necessarily affect the bone structures of the spine. In this case, the pancreas, which is located behind the stomach, can be affected, so the pain can be given to the lower back. Severe pain indicates advanced stages of cancer.
Also, pain in the lumbar region may be associated with the fact that tumors of other organs have metastasized to the indicated area.
In women, cramping back pain can be a signal of developing ovarian cancer. In men, sharp and prolonged spasms signal a prostate tumor.
Women are often concerned about lower back pain. A similar symptom can occur under the influence of pathologies such as:
- rupture of ovarian tissue;
- pathological processes of the uterus;
- cysts in the ovaries;
- cervical cancer;
- inflammatory processes of the fallopian tubes;
- benign formations on the inner wall of the uterus.
Low back pain often occurs in women who have undergone artificial termination of pregnancy. Unpleasant sensations are caused by mechanical damage to the tissues of the uterus and the prolonged process of wound tightening.
In women with gynecological diseases, pain in the lower back, pulling, aching. In addition, there is a violation of the menstrual cycle, loss of strength, irritability, increased body temperature. Often, pain syndrome is supplemented by secretions of various consistencies and colors from the vagina.
Pain syndrome in this case is caused by hormonal imbalance and inflammatory processes that spread to the tissues of the lumbar region.
Girdle lower back pain is a sure sign of kidney disease.
A similar symptom accompanies pathologies such as:
- nephroptosis (prolapse of the kidneys).
In the presence of calculi in the urinary tract, the pain in the lumbar region is not too pronounced, has a dull character. With inflammatory processes that involve the kidneys, the pain is aching and constant. The place of its localization in this case is to the left and to the right of the spinal column.
Acute pain is indicative of renal colic. The pain radiates to the groin area, inner thigh, anterior abdominal wall.
Additional manifestations that may indicate kidney disease include:
- increased blood pressure;
- swelling of the arms, legs, face that appears after waking up and disappears during the day;
- change in urination: the process can be rapid and painful or, conversely, rare, up to complete cessation;
- increased sweating;
- impaired appetite.
Discomfort and pain in the lower back are often associated with the fact that the fetus presses on the kidneys in pregnant women. In this case, the pain syndrome is not associated with any pathology, it is a completely natural phenomenon.
Diseases of the genitourinary system in men
In the stronger sex, lower back pain often occurs with diseases of the genitourinary system. Most often, the discomfort is caused by prostatitis - an inflammatory process of the prostate gland. With this disease, the process of urination and sexual function are disrupted. In addition to lower back pain, there are pulling pains in the lower abdomen.
Another male disease that contributes to the appearance of pain in the lumbar region is epididymitis, an inflammation of the epididymis.
Lumbar myositis is an inflammatory process of muscle tissue, manifested in pain and weakness in the muscles, sometimes in their atrophy. The disease can be caused by infectious processes, trauma, hypothermia, metabolic disorders in the body.
This pathology is characterized by:
- aching lower back pain that worsens with movement;
- feeling of dull weakness in the muscles;
- swelling, redness of the skin.
With tuberculosis of the spine, the lower back often hurts. The nature of the pain syndrome in this case depends on how many vertebrae are involved in the pathological process, as well as on the degree of deformation of the structures.
The main signs of spinal tuberculosis are:
- Severe pain in the lumbar region. This localization is associated with the fact that the lumbar region is the largest part of the spinal column, which receives the maximum loads.
- Increased perspiration at night.
- Increase in the size of the lymph nodes.
- Temperature rise within 37. 1-37. 3 degrees.
- Constant fatigue.
With the progression of tuberculosis of the spine, there is an angular curvature of this structure, the development of abscesses in the area of the lumbar and thoracic regions.
Fading of sexual function in women is often accompanied by lower back pain. A similar phenomenon is associated with a decrease in ovarian activity, which is reflected in the level of the hormone estrogen. In conditions of its deficiency, bone tissue becomes more fragile and prone to damage.
Against the background of hormonal changes, the musculoskeletal system as a whole becomes vulnerable: the intervertebral cartilage and discs become weaker, the muscles and ligaments lose elasticity. As a result, the lumbar region, which always experiences the greatest stress, is at particular risk.
In addition to pulling back pain, women during menopause suffer from headaches, increased sweating, hot flashes.
Violation of blood circulation, provoked by pathological vascular processes, can also cause pain in the lumbar region. Thrombophlebitis, atherosclerosis, phlebothrombosis contribute to the onset of pain syndrome.
The appearance of blood clots in the veins, inflammation of the vascular walls, narrowing of the vascular lumen - all this impedes the full flow of blood and thereby limits the supply of oxygen to the tissues and structures of the body, which negatively affects their condition.
Additional symptoms that accompany vascular diseases are vein swelling, heaviness in the extremities, and bluish color of the skin.
With bowel diseases, pain can radiate to the lower back. This is due to the fact that the intestinal tract takes up significant space in the abdominal cavity. If any part of it undergoes pathological changes, then it grows, putting pressure on other organs. The spine is also at risk.
Pain extends to the lumbar region in ulcerative colitis, exacerbation of appendicitis, intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome.
In case of pathological processes spreading to the stomach, pains are localized in the upper part of the lower back. They appear after meals, with the appearance of a feeling of hunger, in case of abuse of harmful products.
The following symptoms are observed in parallel:
- stool disorders;
- abdominal pain.
Being overweight puts additional stress on the spine, especially the lumbar spine. Constant pressure creates the risk of developing pathologies of the musculoskeletal system, provokes injuries in the intervertebral discs, curvature of the spine, and the development of osteochondrosis.
In addition to the above pathological causes, pain in the lumbar zone may occur due to prolonged driving or computer use, excessive loads in the gym, hobby for summer cottage work, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Which doctor should I go to?
The appearance of lower back pain is often caused by serious disorders in the body, so it is important to consult a doctor in a timely manner to diagnose the true cause and treat it.
It is necessary to consult a specialist if the patient has pain in the lumbar region:
- is regular;
- appears constantly after physical effort;
- does not disappear when lying down;
- is accompanied by numbness of the limbs and an increase in body temperature.
The main specialists you should contact if your back hurts in the lumbar region are:
- vertebrologist (treats osteochondrosis and other neurological diseases);
- nephrologist (urologist): this specialist diagnoses and treats if lower back pain is associated with pathological processes in the genitourinary system.
If necessary, other specialists are involved in the diagnosis and treatment process: an orthopedist, surgeon, gynecologist, oncologist, gastroenterologist.
For pain in the lumbar region, the following diagnostic measures are prescribed:
- general examination, identification of anamnesis;
- testing to determine the restrained nerve endings;
- blood test to assess the level of hemoglobin;
- X-ray examination of the spinal column;
- ultrasound of the abdominal organs;
- endoscopy of the uterus, stomach, intestines;
- bone scintigraphy.
The listed activities allow to compile a complete picture of the patient's condition, identify the disease that causes pain in the lumbar spine, and determine the appropriate course of treatment.
Approaches to Low Back Pain Treatment
The main course of treatment for low back pain depends on what caused the symptom. Therapy is aimed at eliminating the existing disease.
Treatment is based on the following:
- the use of drugs to suppress inflammatory processes;
- carrying out physiotherapy procedures aimed at accelerating the recovery of the affected structures;
- physiotherapy exercises.
In the process of treatment, the patient must avoid active sports activities, as well as any physical activity, so as not to aggravate the course of the pathological process. During the rehabilitation period, the patient may be advised to practice yoga, swimming, and hiking in the fresh air.
Also, therapy includes dietary correction. The patient should refuse heavy food, everything fatty and fried. It is important to give up bad habits - this will significantly speed up the healing process.
For pain in the lumbar region, drugs are usually prescribed in the form of injections, which include vitamin B. The tasks of these drugs are:
- acceleration of restoration of damaged nerve fibers;
- increase in the functional activity of the central and peripheral nervous system;
- acceleration of metabolic processes.
For severe, intense lower back pain, powerful pain relievers are prescribed.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that control inflammation are also given by injection.
After a course of injections of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, drugs of this group are prescribed in the form of tablets for oral administration.
For muscle spasm that causes low back pain, medications such as muscle relaxants are prescribed.
Patients are also prescribed external medications. They usually have a warming effect and help suppress pain. They are prescribed only as part of a comprehensive treatment.
For pain in the lumbar region, special ointments are recommended.
A set of therapeutic exercises is prescribed only after the pain syndrome has been reduced. During the period of exacerbation, therapeutic exercises are contraindicated.
For lumbar pain, the following exercises are recommended:
- Lifts the pelvic region.You need to lie on your back and bend your legs at right angles. The pelvis should be gently lifted and returned to its original position. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Keeping balance.The exercise is performed in a standing position. You need to stand on your toes and try to maintain balance in this position for about 10-15 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Raising the legs from a prone position.Lie on your back, alternately raise the straightened lower limbs as high as possible. Perform 5-10 lifts for each leg.
- Movement on the buttocks.You need to sit on the floor, straighten your back. Using the pelvis and buttocks, move forward, then back. You need to walk in this way about 2 m forward and the same amount back. The number of approaches is 2-3.
You must not do gymnastics for spinal injuries, tumors and hernias, as well as in the presence of diseases that occur in an acute form.
Physiotherapy procedures are carried out provided that the lower back pain was not caused by an acute inflammatory process. Acute pain syndrome is first relieved by conservative methods and only after that physiotherapy is prescribed.
For pain in the lumbar spine, the following procedures are prescribed:
- Magnetotherapy.This method improves blood circulation in the affected area.
- Electrophoresis.This method is necessary if you want to speed up the delivery of drugs to the lesion (analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chondroprotectors).
- Laser therapy.The technique allows you to normalize metabolism and improve blood circulation in the affected areas.
To strengthen bone elements, you should include in the diet cottage cheese, dairy products and actually whole milk, fatty sea fish, black bread.
If the patient is overweight, which creates an additional load on the spine, it is necessary to exclude flour, sweets, and sugary carbonated drinks from the diet.
Traditional methods of treatment should in no way become the basis for the treatment of low back pain. They are exclusively used as an adjuvant method and are used only with the approval of the attending physician.
For lower back pain, you can use the following traditional medicine recipes:
- Honey based ointment.To prepare a medicinal composition, you need to take 3 tablespoons of natural bee honey and melt it with a water bath. Cool the composition. Add 2 tablespoons of pharmacy alcohol to honey, add 100 g of petroleum jelly and rub into areas where pain is localized. For greater effectiveness, you can apply a compress with this ointment. In this case, it is not rubbed into the skin, but spread over it in a thin layer and put on cling film, and wrap it up with a warm scarf on top. Leave the compress for 3-4 hours, then wash off the composition with warm water.
- Salt compress.It is necessary to dissolve table salt in hot water (proportions - 1: 10), stir. In the finished solution, moisten a gauze cloth folded in several layers, cover the lower back with a compress, wrap it with a towel and warm it with a scarf. Leave overnight, remove the rest of the compress in the morning.
- Garlic compress.You need to take 3 heads of garlic, peel, chop. Pour the resulting mass with warm water (2 glasses), leave for 3 hours. In the infusion, moisten a cotton cloth and sprinkle it with freshly squeezed lemon juice over the entire surface. Apply cold compress. Leave for 20 minutes for a damp towel to reach body temperature. After that, repeat the procedure for applying the compress. This can be repeated until the patient feels relief.
- Compress with body.You need to mix bodyagi powder with olive oil in a ratio of 1: 30. Lubricate the sore lower back with the resulting composition, leaving the product on the skin for 40 minutes. After the expiration of the specified period, the product must be washed off with warm water.
- Compress of dried burdock leaves.You need to moisten the raw material in boiling water, attach it to the back, wrap it with a warm scarf on top. Leave the compress for at least an hour.
- Baths with additives.Taking a bath can reduce the severity of pain. As additives, 200 g of mustard powder, 600 ml of broth on mint leaves can act. Take a bath within 20 minutes. The water should be warm.
All of the listed treatments are intended to relieve low back pain, that is, they are symptomatic.
Treatment of a specific diagnosed disease should be carried out according to a separate scheme.
To reduce the risk of lower back pain, you should:
- monitor your posture;
- stand and walk only with a straight back;
- perform special exercises to strengthen the spine and back muscles;
- do not expose the spine to excessive loads, moderately perform exercises that use the back muscles;
- avoid hypothermia;
- as far as possible, engage in a sport that does not negatively affect the spine: swimming, yoga, walking are especially useful;
- do not make sudden movements when lifting loads;
- sleep on a mattress of medium firmness, best of all - orthopedic, the pillow should also be orthopedic and of medium size;
- keep track of weight, if necessary, follow a diet and engage in special exercises to combat extra pounds;
- take vitamin and mineral complexes, especially during periods of hormonal changes in the body.
Back pain can be associated not only with diseases of the spine, but also with dysfunctions of internal organs. A specialist can determine the true cause of the pain syndrome in the course of diagnostic measures. Both the symptom itself and its cause should be treated.