The lower back is subject to a lot of mechanical stress and strain – one of the reasons for lower back pain. The weight of the upper body always puts loads on the lower back. The spine supports all that upper body weight. The spine consists of more than 30 small bones called vertebra stacked one on top of the other. Disc, a spongy piece of cartilage, sits between each vertebra, acting as a shock absorber, and preventing the bony vertebrae from crunching against one another. The function of the lower back includes structural support, movement, and protection of certain body tissues. Lower back pain can be caused by conditions affecting the body lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, spinal cord, and nerves, internal organs of the pelvis, ligaments around the spine and discs, skin covering the lumbar area and muscles of the low back.
Degenerative Disc Disease
As people age, cushioning discs eventually tear away and shrink, a state referred to as degenerative disc disease, which is a major cause of back pain. Discs can also wear or become bruised. When a disc weakens, it can put pressure on its jelly-like center. That pressure can lead to a herniated disc, in which the center of the disc bulges. That bulging can cause the material from inside the disc to press on the sensitive nerves carrying messages to the brain. This results to an agonizing pain. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause force on the nerve that elongates down the spinal column, which results to pain spreading to the buttocks and all the way down the leg, a condition called sciatica.
Lumbar strain is a stretch injury to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the low back. When stretching occurs in these tissues, it results in tiny tears of varying degrees. Lumbar strain is one of the most common causes of low back pain. It can be caused by overuse, trauma or improper use. Lumbar strain mostly occurs to people in their 40s, but can also occur to people of other ages. The symptom of lumbar strain is localized discomfort in the low back area with onset after an event that mechanically stressed the lumbar tissues. The injury caused can range from mild to severe depending on the degree of strain and resulting spasm of the muscles of the low back.
When the nerves of the lumbar spine are irritated by mechanical pressure either by bone or other tissues or from disease, it results to low back pain.
Your spine is not kept in the proper position by joints and ligaments when normal wear and tear occurs, especially as people age. Vertebrae can move more than it should, slide forward and on top of another, causing bones to press on the spinal nerves, causing lower back pain.
When the space around the spine narrows, it can put pressure on nerves. Narrowing is usually caused by bone spurs, which develop as a result of osteoarthritis.
Bone and Joint Conditions
Bone and joint conditions resulting from wear and tear, due to inflammation of the joints (arthritis), and those existing from birth (congenital). Congenital bone conditions include spina bifida and scoliosis.
Degenerative Bone and Joint Conditions
As people age, the water and protein content on their body’s cartilage changes. This results in weaker, thinner, and more fragile cartilage.
Other Causes for Lower Back Pain
Other reasons for lower back pain include sitting in an uncomfortable position all day, working a jackhammer, or you regularly twist your body into uncomfortable positions. Smoking can also lead to back pain. In fact, smokers are nearly a third more likely to have low back pain compared to non smokers.