Eight out of 10 people experience back pain, typically between the fourth and sixth decades of life. It is one of the most common health complaints, second only to headache. Although it can affect any area of the spine, it most often occurs in the lower back, or lumbar region.
Acute back pain occurs suddenly, but the episode is generally limited to a few weeks. The accompanying pain can be severe. Back pain that lasts for more than 3 months is considered chronic. With chronic back pain, the condition may progressively worsen, although the pain is usually not as intense as the pain associated with an acute episode.
It’s important to understand that the level of pain does not always “match up” with the degree of injury. In other words, muscle spasms in the back can be incapacitating, whereas a herniated disc may only cause a moderate amount of pain. Certain instances warrant medical attention, such as:
- Back pain after injury, such as a fall
- Sudden, unrelenting or disabling back pain
- Pain that travels into the arms and/or legs
- Leg numbness, tingling sensations, weakness
- Buttock and/or genital area numbness and/or tingling
- Back pain accompanied by fever
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
Causes of Back Pain
Over-use injuries such as a sprain/strain, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the development of back pain. Bone disease (e.g., osteoporosis), metastatic cancer, and degenerative spine disorders can cause back stiffness and pain. Conditions associated with back pain include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Spinal osteoarthritis (spondylosis)
- Spinal Stenosis
- Vertebral compression fracture
Most back pain can be successfully treated without surgery. If conservative treatment fails, or if you have difficulty standing or walking, you may be a candidate for surgery. Dr. Stieber is a leader in the use of minimally-invasive surgical techniques with advanced expertise in restoring mobility to the back and helping his patients return to activity and an improved quality of life.