Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is among one of the most common reasons for a person to see a doctor in the United States, and almost two-thirds of people will experience an episode of lower back pain during their lifetime. Certain activities may put you at risk for lower back pain, such as heavy lifting and twisting. However, lower back pain can happen to almost anyone.

The anatomy of the lower back is complex, and there can be several different causes of lower back pain. We will work together with you at Eastern Regional Pain Specialist to try and determine what exactly is causing your back pain. Once we determine a likely cause of your pain, we will then discuss treatment options for that specific problem.

Some of the most common causes and categories of lower back pain are due to issues with:

  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Nerves
  • Disks
  • Bones

Sometimes, people experience pain in the lower back only, and they don’t feel pain traveling down the legs. This type of pain is what we call axial back pain. Axial back pain can be due to any of the reasons above, for example, arthritis in the joints of the lower back. This arthritis can cause pain with activity, such as twisting, bending, or lifting objects. However, since there can be many causes of back pain, we will work together with you to determine which one of the categories above is the main problem.

Other times, lower back pain can also spread down into the hips, buttocks, or legs and feet. We call this radicular pain, and many people refer to pain which travels down the legs as sciatica. Sciatica or radicular pain may mean the pain is due to compression or pinching of one of the nerves in your lower back. Treatment for this may involve epidural steroid injections, which help to reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain from this nerve.

As part of our assessment, we may utilize different tools to determine what could be causing your pain, including:

  • X-Ray:
    • Provides a detailed picture of the bones in the lower back.
  • Computed tomography (CT scan):
    • Provides a 3D picture of the bones in the lower back as well as some of the muscles and joints.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):
    • Provides a detailed, 3D picture of the disks, nerves, and joints of the lower back.
  • Electromyography (EMG):
    • A test of the health and function of the nerves in your body.

Your primary care doctor, Rheumatologist, Neurosurgeon, or Orthopedic doctor may have already performed these tests and provided you with a diagnosis prior to your visit to Eastern Regional Pain Specialists. We will review these tests prior to and during your visit with us, so that we can work on treating you as soon as possible.

I hope that this information has been a useful summary of lower back pain. Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can be helpful in the future.

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