The most common causes of low back pain and sciatica that we address in our office:
Muscle Adhesion: The most common cause of lower back pain, muscle adhesion arises as an unfortunate side effect of our modern lifestyles. The hours we spend sitting at our desks and standing is one place builds adhesion in the muscles of the lower back. Adhesion acts like glue within these overused muscles, making them weaker and less flexible while restricting your movement and causing you considerable pain. Although it is extremely widespread, adhesion is often misdiagnosed. Failing to recognize the condition, physicians commonly prescribe treatments such as physical adjustments, taping, stretching, and exercise. While these measures may help in the short term, they do nothing to resolve the original issue. However, adhesion is entirely reversible when it is identified and treated by a skilled medical provider. When muscle adhesion is addressed, the muscles of the lower back can once again support the back properly, relieving stress in the back and eliminating pains in both the back and the legs.
Lumbar Disc Injury: Like all intervertebral discs, the discs of the lumbosacral spine are built to absorb shocks that would otherwise cause damage to the spinal column. When they are injured or worn, however, lumbar discs lead to one of the most common health issues in the United States: lower back pain. Although acute lumbar disc injuries can occur as the result of traumatic accidents such as sports impacts or automobile collisions, poor posture and the prolonged stress of holding singular and/or unnatural positions are by far the most common cause of disc injuries in the lower back. This will often manifest in patients who have desk jobs. People who spend a lot of time lifting heavy objects and/or frequently bending at the waist are also at a particularly high risk of lumbar disc injury. In many cases, untreated injured lumbar discs will herniate, a process that occurs when the inner core of a disc leaks out to press upon or pinch a lumbar nerve, causing pain to radiate along the nerve pathway up the back and/or down into the legs.
Nerve Entrapment: The nervous system sends information (various sensations of pain and pleasure) through a network of nerve tissue and sensory receptors that spread throughout the body. Often, certain branches of this network pass through joints, tight knots of muscle, and other “tunnel” biological regions that create close quarters for nerves and subject them to unhealthy amounts of compression. When this occurs, the flow of nervous system “information” can be cut off, a condition that can lead to a range of unpleasant and potentially dangerous medical issues. A particularly problematic tunnel region is located at the back of the hip. When subjected to prolonged postures and general overuse the muscles in this region will develop a tightening and sticking condition called adhesion. When adhesion effects hip muscles, it begins to entrap and squeeze the sciatic nerve at the back of the hip to engender sciatica – a term that describes symptoms of discomfort that originate in the lower back to travel through the buttock and down one or both legs. In short, sciatic nerve entrapment can cause hamstring tightness, aching, numbness, burning, and tingling anywhere in the lower extremities.
Muscle Spasms: Involuntary contractions that can cause muscles to become hard, tight, and painful, spasms can occur in virtually any body part. Lower back spasms, however, can be particularly problematic. In short, if you are experiencing a spasm in your back, there is always an underlying cause. And identifying that cause is absolutely critical to your overall back health. Many people dismiss back spasms, insisting that they just slept “wrong.” Dismissing these spasms is even easier when the problem seems to come and go. However, back spasms are always a sign of a more serious problem that is just waiting to surface. Common causes of this condition include general injury, overuse, and poor posture. It can also arise from daily activities such as lifting heavy objects and straining to reach objects on a high shelf. No matter what the cause, people who are experiencing back muscle spasms should seek medial treatment as soon as possible.
Osteoarthritis: The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs as the protective joint cartilage wears down over time. Although it is widely regarded as a natural part of the aging process, it is often aggravated by other conditions. For example, as muscle adhesion develops from overuse, it can stress cartilage as joints fail to support loads properly. A degenerative bone-building condition, osteoarthritis worsens when patients experience a limited range of motion. The halted motion of a joint causes an uneven placement of forces within it, and the body responds by building up the bone on the part of the joint that is loaded. This leads directly to cartilage degeneration and chronic joint pain. Restoring range of motion can significantly slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, tenderness, stiffness, loss of flexibility, and a grating sensation, which is often the result of bone spurs.