Low Back Pain
Lower back is one of the most common health problems experienced by most people, at some point of their lives. People with low back pain may experience difficulty in performing daily routine activities. There are various causes of low back pain.
The most common causes of low back pain include:
- Injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments and joints
- Spinal conditions such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis causing pressure over the nerve roots, in the spinal canal
- Herniated disc: Also known as slipped disc is a condition in which the central gelatinous part of the disc protrudes through a tear in the outer fibrous layer of the disc, causing a bulge and pressure over the surrounding nerves. The compression of the spinal nerves may cause back pain.
- Spinal stenosis: It is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, most commonly caused by age related degenerative changes of the spine.
- Osteoarthritis: Also called degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis, and is more common in older people. Osteoarthritis of the spine can cause back pain. Osteoarthritis of the hips can cause limping and may also lead to back pain.
- Compression fractures of spinal vertebrae
Other rare causes of back pain include ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis of the spine), bacterial infection, and tumours of the spine.
Surgery is usually suggested by your doctor once conservative measures have failed to relieve pain. In rare cases, such as cauda equina syndrome, where there is a high risk of developing permanent paralysis, or bowel and bladder difficulties, surgery may need to be performed on an emergency basis.
Some lower back surgeries include:
- Discectomy: The herniated soft interior of an intervertebral disc (spongy discs of tissue that cushion the bones in the spinal cord) is removed to release pressure on a compressed nerve.
- Laminectomy: Bone and/or thickened tissue narrowing the spinal canal is removed to release pressure on a compressed nerve.
- Spinal fusion: Spine movement is reduced by fusion of the vertebral segments.
- Removal of spinal tumours
- Debridement of the spine: Infected, abnormal or dead tissue is removed.
Many lower back surgeries are performed through minimal invasive techniques to reduce pain and the hospital stay. Recovery after lower back surgery may take 3-12 months. Physical therapy is recommended following surgery to improve flexibility, strengthen the back and stomach muscles, and help you return to your regular activities.