Lower Back Pain

Sooner or later, almost everyone will experience an episode of lower back pain. For many people, the back pain is acute, coming on suddenly. For others, lower back pain becomes a chronic issue.

Lower back pain results from a variety of causes. In some cases, lower back pain is indicative of a serious, even life-threatening condition. If lower back pain persists for more than a few days, contact a Tampa Bay spinal doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

If lower back pain results from trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident, seek emergency medical assistance.

Seriousness of the Issue

Lower back pain varies accordingly to the cause and the individual. For some people, lower back pain is disabling, making walking and other movement difficult.

Others experience dull aching, local soreness, and pain that moves around the body. In most cases, lower back pain does not affect areas below the knee, but there are exceptions.

Parts of the back involved in lower back pain include the spinal cord, related nerves, disks between vertebrae and the lumbar spine. However, lower back pain may not actually originate in the lower back.

Risk Factors

While anyone may develop lower back pain, certain risk factors increase the odds. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Heavy lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Smoking

Potential Causes

Lower back pain primarily results from issues directly relating to the back as well as other conditions affecting the body. These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Compression fractures
  • Herniated discs
  • Infection
  • Kidney infection
  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Trauma
  • Tumors

Lower back pain affecting younger people is generally muscular in origin or relating to disk herniation, while lower back pain affecting seniors may result from degenerative conditions.

Lower back pain may be accompanied by swelling, changes in bladder and bowel habits, numbing and tingling, or pain in the legs and feet. Patients should always tell their Tampa Bay doctor about any issues accompanying lower back pain.

Diagnosing the Pain

To diagnose the issue, the Tampa Bay doctor performs a physical exam and takes a patient’s medical history. That history includes when the pain started, any position that make it better or worse, and any parts of the body affected.

Most cases of lower back pain do not require extensive tests, but that is not always the case. Diagnostic tests for trauma-induced or otherwise serious lower back pain include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRIs

Treatment Options

Treatment for lower back pain depends on the diagnosis. In many cases, icing and/or heating the area and taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen provides relief within a few weeks. Applying topical pain relievers also helps.

Doctors in Tampa Bay may prescribe muscle relaxants for patients with more severe lower back pain. Patients who do not respond to milder pain relievers may receive a short-term prescription for stronger pain medication or an injection of cortisone in the back for longer-term relief. Some patients may benefit from physical therapy and back-strengthening exercises.

In some situations, surgery is recommended. For example, if a herniated disk is causing the lower back pain, the section of the disk pressing on the nerve requires removal.

Contact a Doctor

If you are experiencing lower back pain, call a Tampa Bay back pain doctor to make an appointment for an examination.