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5 Common Causes of Chronic Low Back Pain

5 Common Causes of Chronic Low Back Pain

About 80% of Americans suffer from low back pain at some point in their lifetime, dealing with discomfort, stiffness, and other symptoms that take a toll on everyday living. While lower back pain can be debilitating, several safe, effective treatment options can provide you with relief. The key is getting treatment as soon as possible.

As a leading spine physician in San Leandro, California, Kenneth I. Light, MD, offers patient-centered treatment plans for low back pain, tailoring every plan for optimal relief. If you’re suffering from chronic low back pain, here are five common issues that could be causing it.

1. Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is a major nerve that leaves your spine in your lower back and then splits off into a right branch and a left branch, each branch traveling down a leg.

Sciatica happens when this nerve gets compressed or pinched, causing lower back pain along with radiating pain, numbness, and tingling in the buttocks and leg. Without treatment, sciatica can lead to permanent nerve damage and weakness in the affected leg as well as problems with walking. 

2. Degenerative spine problems

Your spine is composed of a series of bones (vertebrae) connected by facet joints. Just like the other bones and joints in your body, your vertebrae and joints can be affected by the aging process. 

Arthritis is a common cause of back pain as you get older, and so are degenerative conditions like spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, and spondylolisthesis, a condition that happens when one disc slips out of position.

3. Herniated discs

Discs are spongy cushions that separate each pair of vertebrae, absorbing shocks and impacts while helping your spine stay flexible. If a disc slips out of place, it can wind up causing inflammation that presses on nerves in the spinal canal. 

In addition to chronic lower back pain, herniated discs can cause pain and numbness anywhere along the nerve pathway. Sometimes, herniated discs can rupture or tear, increasing painful symptoms.

4. Muscle strain

Overuse and repetitive use are very common causes of lower back pain. Activities like bending, lifting, or even sitting or standing for long periods can put uneven or excess strain on your back muscles, along with the tendons and ligaments in your back. So can poor posture, including spending hours hunched over your computer or phone.

Falls and car accidents can also lead to muscle strain or injuries to the ligaments or tendons that support your back. Without treatment, uneven stress on your back muscles can increase strain on your vertebrae, and it may even lead to herniated discs and sciatica. 

5. Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a back condition that causes the spine to grow in a curved shape. Some people have scoliosis and never know it, while others can experience chronic back pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility due to the condition.

Spinal curvature means your spine is subjected to a lot of uneven stress and strain. Some people with scoliosis have radiating symptoms of numbness and pain as the discs and joints in their spine get pulled out of their normal alignment.

Get relief for your chronic back pain

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive — many other issues and conditions can cause lower back pain. The first step in feeling better is diagnosing what’s causing your symptoms, and that begins with an evaluation.

If you’re having lower back pain, take that next step toward feeling better. Call us or request an appointment online to learn how Dr. Light can help.

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