Lower back pain is generally considered to be chronic when it persists for 12 weeks or longer, which makes it much different from an acute flare-up of lower back pain that would generally be a temporary condition. Chronic back pain will generally appear more frequently in older individuals, simply because they have had more time to go through wear and tear and experience more stresses on the lower back.
It is also more prevalent with females than males, afflicting 70 women out of every 1,000 individuals, whereas only 57 males per thousand individuals are troubled by it. No one has to live with lower back pain, and in fact if appropriate measures are taken, most patients will generally recover fairly rapidly. Almost 70% of people will recover from lower back pain within six weeks, and as many as 90% of all individuals affected will recover after 12 weeks.
Causes of lower back pain
When lower back pain lasts for three months or longer, that means it has exceeded the body’s ability to heal itself, and must be treated by appropriate medical care. One of the most common causes of lower back pain is a lumbar herniated disc, in which the gelatinous center of a lumbar disc breaks through the outer later layer to irritate nerves in the area. Degenerative disc disease is another major cause of lower back pain, and this occurs when the discs of your spine lose hydration and wear down. That makes it unable to resist much of the normal movement of your body, and tears may develop, which lead to a herniated disc.
Facet joint dysfunction can be a problem for those joints behind the discs of motion segments in the lumbar spine. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction occurs when the sacroiliac joint becomes inflamed by either too much or too little motion of the sacroiliac joint. Osteoarthritis is a condition which develops when there has been wear and tear on the disk or facet joints, and this will cause pain and inflammation in the lower spine. Any abnormal curvature of the spine can lead to scoliosis or kyphosis, and this can cause lower back pain if it triggers a breakdown of the facet joints, sacroiliac joints, or the discs.
Treatment of lower back pain
There are a number of exercises which can be undertaken to reduce the severity of lower back pain. If you work with a therapist, that person can develop an individual exercise program for you which takes into account your clinical history and your physical examination. In some cases, muscle relaxants will be able to increase the mobility of tense muscles and allow you to achieve greater functionality.
Back braces have been used to provide greater comfort to individuals afflicted by lower back pain, and they can speed healing, especially after back surgery. Surgical means can be used to correct severe back problems, although this is generally viewed as a last resort type of treatment. Sometimes a doctor will recommend an epidural steroid injection which can be administered directly into the outer portion of a dural sac surrounding the spinal cord. The objective of an injection like this is to temporarily relieve pain by lowering inflammation in the area of compressed nerve roots.