Understanding Back Pain: Lower Back Pain

Understanding Back Pain: Lower Back Pain | Capitol Physical Therapy Washington DC | Pain & Injury Management

Anyone who has experienced back pain knows what an inconvenience it can be.

It can make it difficult to do everything from carrying in the groceries to playing with your children or pets.

We’re Capitol Physical Therapy, a Washington DC physical therapist clinic, and we want to help you understand some of the common causes of lower back pain, and how we can help you to manage your pain.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is incredibly common and will be experienced by eight in ten Americans at some point.

It can be localized (which means is felt solely in the lower back, above the tailbone) or radiating pain which travels to the legs and feet.

Although the pain may sometimes feel as though it is dire, the causes of lower back pain are generally not due to a serious issue or problem.

Keep reading to learn more about some common symptoms and causes of lower back pain.

Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

Some of the symptoms of lower back pain will vary, depending on what the underlying cause of the pain is, however some will be common across all causes.

Aside from the obvious – pain in the lower back area – some things to watch for include:

  • Low back stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness throughout the body
  • Cramps

Generally, lower back pain will subside on its own, however, the following symptoms could indicate something more serious, and if you experience them you should seek medical attention:

  • Weakness
  • Change in sensation in the legs
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Losing control of the bowels
  • Difficulty going to the washroom

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

There is not one single cause of back pain.

Keep reading to learn more about some common causes of lower back pain.

1. Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive strain injury occurs when muscles and ligaments stretch too much and sustain tears from being over-used.

The cause of this is often repetitive motion, for instance, repeated twisting or lifting.

This type of injury is generally treated with physical therapy and rest.

2. Sciatica

The sciatic nerve links travels from the lower back to the hips, buttocks, and down each leg.

When a herniated disc presses on this nerve, it results in inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which is called sciatica.

This can result in a burning pain in the legs and feet.

exercises for helping low back pain | Capitol Physical Therapy Washington DC | Pain & Injury Management

3. Scoliosis Or Spine Curvature Abnormalities

Congenital conditions are conditions present from birth and include scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis which cause abnormal curves of the spine.

However, while some are born with scoliosis, others can develop it during puberty.

These conditions place pressure on muscles, ligaments, tendons, and vertebrae, and can cause pain and poor posture.

4. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which causes pain and tenderness in muscles and bones.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but current research suggests it’s an issue with how the brain processes pain, making it seem worse than it actually is.

Pain can range from being a mild, dull ache to intense discomfort.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be complicated since we understand so little about it.

However, the American College of Rheumatology provides the criteria for diagnosing as follows:

  1. Pain and symptoms over the past week, based on the total of number of painful areas out of 19 parts of the body plus level of severity of these symptoms:
    a. Fatigue
    b. Waking unrefreshed
    c. Cognitive (memory or thought) problems
    d. Plus a number of other general physical symptoms
  2. Symptoms lasting at least three months at a similar level
  3. No other health problem that would explain the pain and other symptoms

5. Arthritis

Arthritis is pain in the joints which occurs when cartilage meant to provide protection to joints from rubbing together wears down.

It can result in pain, swelling, stiffness and a reduced range of motion.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, but there are actually dozens of different disorders that fall under this umbrella term.

Another common form of arthritis, is rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system causes the body to attack itself.

6. Spinal Stenosis

When the spinal column narrows, resulting in excess pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, this is spinal stenosis.

The cause is usually degeneration of spinal discs which act to provide cushion for the vertebrae.

When this happens, the spinal cord can become compressed resulting in numbness, cramps, and weakness.

7. Herniated Disc

Also called a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in its tougher exterior casing.

The risk of this type of injury tends to increase with age, and often has a sudden onset after lifting or twisting the back.

Pain from a herniated disc can last for multiple days, and these types of injuries can have long recovery times.

How Can A Physical Therapist Help With Lower Back Pain?

If you are suffering from lower back pain, a physical therapist can help you to determine the cause of the pain and provide interventions.

The goal is to lessen symptoms and prevent re-occurrence.

However the key to lasting, effective relief is to seek treatment as soon as possible – the longer you experience symptoms the harder it will be able to treat the cause.

Physical therapy treatments for low back pain can include:

  • Movement exercises which are designed to decrease pain
  • Manual therapy, in which a physical therapist uses hands-on techniques in order to help improve range of motion and reduce stiffness
  • Progressive strengthening exercises which focus on the core stability

Book An Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy

Are you suffering from lower back pain?

Is stiffness, inflammation, or numbness making it difficult to do things you used to be able to do with ease?

Although it may be tempting to just “wait it out” and let the pain go away on its own, this can often cause things to get worse because you’re not tackling the underlying source of the pain.

If you’re lower back pain is making life more difficult, don’t wait any longer for relief – contact Capitol Physical Therapy today for a consultation.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005

- https://g.page/capitolptdc

9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

- https://goo.gl/maps/zjL4NnnuThRhrcS86

Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC