There are times when you know exactly what caused your back pain. This often occurs when an injury results in acute back pain, a condition which typically comes on suddenly and resolves within 2-6 weeks. However, it can often be trickier to determine the exact cause of chronic back pain since symptoms develop gradually and last a long time.
Chronic back pain typically isn’t caused by a specific injury to your muscles or ligaments. Instead, it’s more likely triggered by issues associated with the vertebrae, joints, nerves or lumbar disks in your lower back. This is due to the fact that there are fewer vertebrae in your lower back than in your neck and mid-back region. In addition, the vertebrae in the lower back are responsible for bearing the weight of your upper body and they experience a great deal of stress, leading to significant wear and tear.
8 Potential Causes of Chronic Lower Back Pain
Some of the most common issues and conditions which may cause chronic back pain include:
Arthritis of the spine – Arthritis is the most common cause of lower back pain. As we age, the cartilage breaks down between the joints in the spine. This may cause inflammation and stiffness in the surrounding tissues, creating friction in the joints that may cause lower back pain.
Herniated disk – The inner gel in your disks bulges out of its lining and presses on the surrounding nerves, resulting in pain. Herniated disks can be caused by degenerative wear and tear from aging or trauma to the disk.
Muscle deconditioning – Lack of physical activity can cause your back muscles to weaken and shrink. When your back muscles aren’t strong enough to provide proper support and stability for your vertebrae, it can lead to back pain.
Poor posture and body mechanics – When you regularly have poor posture and body mechanics, it can create stress on your spine and the surrounding soft tissues. Over time, this stress can lead to degeneration in the structural components of your spine.
Facet joint damage – The facet joints connect the vertebrae in your lower back. These joints withstand large loads of compressive force on a daily basis. Over time, this can cause the cartilage in these joints to deteriorate, resulting in back pain.
Spinal stenosis – This condition occurs when the spinal canal in your lower back narrows. This exerts pressure on the surrounding nerve roots that can be very painful.
Spondylolisthesis – A lumbar vertebra slips forward, placing tremendous compressive force on the lumbar disk separating the slipping vertebra from the one beneath it. This causes the disk to deteriorate, resulting in back pain.
Trauma – Trauma to the back or spine can trigger chronic pain to flare up. This trauma can be caused by a variety of events, including car accidents, falls, sports collisions, or any other high-impact events in the back region.
When Should I See a Doctor for My Back Pain?
Learn about the potential causes of chronic lower back pain
Often, back pain will subside on its own over a few weeks with proper rest and self-care. However, you should see a spine specialist if:
Your pain lasts longer than four weeks
Your pain continues to get worse
You experience one or more of the following symptoms in addition to your back pain:
Colorado Advanced Orthopedics offers a wide range of treatments to help alleviate your back pain. We offer minimally invasive treatments such as spinal injections in situations where your condition can be managed conservatively. We also perform a wide range of spine surgery procedures to address serious conditions which don’t respond to more conservative treatments.
Our team includes some of the most experienced board-certified, fellowship trained spine surgeons on the Western Slope, ensuring you receive the exceptional quality care you deserve. You’ll also benefit from our in-house physical therapy team. When you have your treatment performed by our spine surgeons and your rehab managed by our physical therapists, you’ll experience better alignment between all members of your care team. This ensures the best possible outcomes, helping you get back to enjoying your favorite activities as soon as possible.