Lower Back Pain
If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. More than a quarter of adults report experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months. The vast majority of lower back pain does not require scans or medical intervention and can actually be worsened by medical treatment.
There are also exceptions where back pain is caused by serious medical conditions that require early diagnosis and medical intervention to resolve and prevent escalation.
Being able to tell the difference is very difficult, even for medical professionals.
What is Non-Specific Lower Back Pain?
‘Non-specific low back pain’ is not a medical diagnosis but an attempt to give a label to the common low back ache that can occur in adults where a single structure or injury can’t always be identified. Most of these are probably due to small disc injuries or irritation and poor force distribution across the many small components of the spine. In most cases, pain killers and scans don’t help but non-aggravating exercise, improving back strength, changing movement habits and weight loss often does help.
What are the Causes of Back Pain?
There are indeed specific structural causes of back pain that requires intervention and it is very important that these are not missed just because non-sinister back pain is more common. These causes include;
- Serious disc injuries
- Facet Joint Arthritis
- Spinal nerve root compression or irritation
- Stress Fractures
- Other organ pain (kidneys)
When Should I See a Doctor?
It is important not to get fixated on small changes to discs on an MRI scan which can be completely normal. It is equally important not to dismiss of low back pain as ‘non-specific low back pain’ and having ANY of the following signs may indicate the need to see a doctor;
- Under the age of 30 (particularly adolescents)
- Severe and increasing pain preventing continuous sleep and not controlled by simple analgesics
- Pain, burning, numbness, tingling or weakness radiating further afield including into the buttocks, leg and foot
- Fevers or being generally unwell
- Extreme morning stiffness and pain getting out of bed
- Back pain that has been present for more than 6 weeks without any medical consultation
What Causes Back Pain in Active Adolescents?
For more information on adolescent back pain click here
There are many causes of back pain that occur only in childhood. Back pain in children and adolescents should ALWAYS be further evaluated as conditions such as spondylolisthesis, pars interarticularis stress fractures, Scheurman’s Disease and scoliosis should all be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.