Lower back pain

symptoms of back pain

Lower back pain is quite common. It can cause both ordinary fatigue and serious injuries and pathologies. If the pain is severe or does not go away after rest, it is important to consult a doctor to rule out dangerous conditions.

What can lower back pain be like?

Pain in the lower back can be sharp or aching, appear suddenly or increase gradually, appear with loads or certain movements (for example, bending over), or continue regardless of what the person does.

The pain can be point-like or radiating (that is, spreading to other areas). In this case, a person has pain in the lumbar region, not only in the back, but also in other parts of the body, for example, in the lower abdomen, perineum, leg or hip.

Low back pain may include stiffness of movement or muscle spasms. The person may have difficulty bending or rising from a lying position, standing with a straight back, or maintaining posture while walking.

If the pain is caused by a muscle spasm or pinched nerve, it can be excruciating and even disabling. Such pain forces you to stay in bed until you get medical help.

Why does my lower back hurt?

The most common cause of pain in the lower back is one or another pathology of the musculoskeletal system: sprain, pinch, inflammation. They are often found in men who work with their hands, athletes and young mothers.

Also, discomfort in the lower back can be a sign of acute or chronic diseases of the internal organs. This happens due to the fact that pain impulses can be transmitted along nerve fibers to neighboring regions. In this case, they say that the pain "radiates" to the lower back.

Diseases of the musculoskeletal system that cause pain in the lower back

Most often, back pain is caused by injuries and pathologies of the musculoskeletal system - sprains of muscles and ligaments, damage to the spine, rupture and protrusion of intervertebral discs, inflammation of joints, bone diseases.

Deformation and sprains of muscles and ligaments

Such injuries can occur as a result of clumsy movement if a person lifts something too heavy or does not follow safety measures when working with large objects. You can also get injured while playing sports or simply having an unfortunate sneeze.

back pain when lifting weights

Back pain can occur if you lift heavy objects without following safety precautions.

During movement with sprains and strains, the pain intensifies, muscle spasms may appear. It may be painful for a person to walk, bend forward, or keep their back straight.

The diagnosis of deformation and twisting of muscles and ligaments is based on the data of physical examination and instrumental studies - ultrasound, X-ray, MRI of the lumbar region. If you suspect twisting or deformation of muscles or ligaments, you should contact an orthopedic traumatologist.

Treatment consists of relieving acute pain and muscle spasms using ice packs, pain relievers, and medications to relieve muscle spasms (muscle relaxants). It is important to rest the injured area for the tissue to regenerate - this usually takes about 2 weeks. After that, it is important to start rehabilitation: physical therapy exercises aimed at restoring muscle function are indicated.

Without treatment, strains and sprains lead to limited mobility: a person trying not to injure the injured area reduces activity, which can lead to weight gain, decreased bone strength, and decreased muscle mass.

Spinal injuries

Injury (usually fracture) to one or more vertebrae occurs as a result of a fall, accident, sports, or household injury. In people with bone density disorders (such as osteoporosis), such damage can cause even minor effects.

Treatment of spinal injuries consists in preventing displacement and further deformation of the spinal discs. If the damage is not serious, it is recommended to sleep on a hard surface and limit physical activity. If the damage is significant, surgical methods are used for fixation.

Without treatment, damage to the spinal discs can lead to stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal, neurological disorders, including sciatica - compressed nerve fibers extending from the spine.

Intervertebral disc pathologies

Intervertebral discs are fibrocartilaginous plates with jelly-like contents located between the vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers for the vertebrae, ensuring their mobility. Discs can become dislocated (displaced) or ruptured (herniated), causing severe pain and limiting the mobility of the spine.

Intervertebral tears and protrusions can occur in people with weak muscles and overweight, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, and people who lift heavy objects. Smokers are more susceptible to intervertebral disc pathologies.

intervertebral hernia

Intervertebral hernia - protrusion of the intervertebral disc into the spinal canal

Treatment consists of relieving pain and inflammation - rest, painkillers, ointments and compresses to the inflamed area are recommended. A doctor may prescribe physical therapy or exercise therapy. For moderate damage, if the cause of the herniation or protrusion is ruled out, the disc can be restored - for example, by strengthening the muscle corset, reducing weight and not putting excessive stress on the spine.

If the back pain is so severe that it interferes with daily activities, does not subside within 1-1. 5 months, or if the symptoms worsen, you should contact your doctor again. In some cases, steroid therapy or even surgery may be required. With age, it is possible to develop degenerative disease of the intervertebral discs - they become flatter and perform a worse shock absorption function, which can cause pain. Treatment in this case includes pain relief and general improvement of the body.

Scoliosis of the lumbar spine

Scoliosis (curvature) of the spine is displacement of the spine to the right or left relative to the vertical axis. Pathology causes an increase in pressure in certain areas of the intervertebral discs and vertebrae, as well as compressed tissue and nerve fibers. Scoliosis can cause severe pain in the right or left lumbar region, where most of the stress is located, and can severely limit the mobility of the spine.

lumbar scoliosis

Scoliosis (curvature) of the spine can cause severe pain in the lumbar region, where there is a lot of stress.

Scoliosis can occur due to the weakening of the muscle corset in the absence of sufficient physical activity, in a sedentary lifestyle (in schoolchildren, office workers). At this time, it becomes difficult for the muscles to maintain the physiological position of the back and curves are formed.

Treatment includes the application of balanced physical activity (physical therapy, swimming), massage and manual therapy, and physiotherapeutic procedures to strengthen muscles, such as electrical stimulation. For severe injuries, it is recommended to wear a corset, which helps to maintain the correct position of the spine.

Arthritis and arthrosis

Inflammation and degenerative processes in the joints of the spine can also cause severe pain in the lower back. There are many forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (damage to the cartilage and adjacent tissues), ankylosing spondylitis (ankylosing spondylitis - damage to the joints of the spine, which causes fusion of the vertebrae).

Arthritis can be caused by natural aging, genetic predisposition or autoimmune diseases.

Arthritis treatment, depending on the form, may include the use of non-steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesics, physiotherapeutic procedures (magnetic therapy, electrophoresis), therapeutic massage and physical therapy.

physiotherapy for back pain

Physiotherapy procedures help relieve pain due to joint pathologies


Displacement of the spine relative to the spine (spondylolisthesis) occurs as a result of injury or degenerative processes in the spine. It occurs in pathological athletes, elderly people or people with a hereditary tendency to bone diseases (for example, osteoporosis - a violation of bone density). Spondylolisthesis can cause severe pain in the back, hips, and legs, and can cause leg cramps or weakness.

Treatment involves the elimination of pain and inflammation caused by compression of neighboring tissues by the vertebra. Depending on the severity of the pain syndrome, the doctor can prescribe non-hormonal pain relievers in tablets or injections of corticosteroid drugs. At the same time, physiotherapeutic procedures and exercise therapy are prescribed to strengthen the muscles and restore the condition of the vertebrae. If spondylolisthesis is accompanied by very severe pain, surgical treatment is used.

In traumatic and non-infectious pathologies of the musculoskeletal system, pain in the lumbar region usually decreases or decreases when a person takes a comfortable position.

injections for back pain

If spondylolisthesis is accompanied by severe pain, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroid injections.

Infectious diseases of the spine

Inflammation of the bone tissue (osteomyelitis) and inflammation of the intervertebral disc (discitis) can cause severe back pain. These pathologies, as a rule, are of a secondary nature, that is, they arise as a complication of inflammation of other organs (the infection enters the tissues through the bloodstream).

Treatment involves hospitalization, lasting up to 1 month, followed by 6 to 12 months of rehabilitation.

Tumor diseases of the spine

Neoplasms can develop under the influence of hereditary or external factors (for example, radiation), but often they appear as repeated foci (metastases) in cancer of other organs - lungs, mammary glands, prostate, thyroid gland, kidneys.

One of the most characteristic symptoms of tumor pathologies is pain that does not decrease when changing position or after rest. Symptoms such as numbness, partial paralysis, uncontrollable urination and shivering along with a sharp rise in body temperature are also possible. Without treatment, symptoms worsen.

Treatment depends on the type, location, and symptoms of the tumor and may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgical removal of the tumor. Pain relief is carried out with non-hormonal or steroid drugs. Your doctor may prescribe a brace to stabilize your spine.

orthopedic corset for back pain

Orthopedic corset helps to stabilize the spine

Diseases of internal organs that cause pain in the lower back

Back pain can occur with diseases that are not related to pathologies of the spine and adjacent tissues. Acute or painful, may be accompanied by inflammation of internal organs: pyelonephritis, urolithiasis, abdominal aortic aneurysm. Women may develop back pain due to gynecological pathologies.

Urolithiasis disease

A disease in which stones are formed in the kidneys and bladder - hard formations from the precipitation of chemical components of urine. Lower back pain is one of the main symptoms of pathology. Depending on their size and location, kidney stones can cause a dull, aching pain that comes on periodically and subsides, or a very sharp pain that does not go away on its own and requires immediate medical attention.

urolithiasis causes back pain

Urolithiasis - the formation of stones in the kidneys and bladder

If you suspect kidney stones, you should contact a urologist or nephrologist. The doctor will prescribe tests and instrumental studies (ultrasound, X-ray examination, computed tomography, including the use of a contrast agent) to make a diagnosis and choose treatment tactics.

Treatment is determined based on the size, nature, location and other factors of stones. If the stone is small (5-10 mm) and there are no other indications for surgical removal, drug treatment is used. If there is no positive dynamics within a month, it is recommended to remove it by non-invasive or surgical methods.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Weakening of the walls of the abdominal aorta (aneurysm) can lead to life-threatening conditions such as aortic rupture and intra-abdominal bleeding. As a rule, the pathology occurs in older people: the risk group includes men over 65 and women over 70, including smokers, those suffering from vascular diseases (high blood pressure), those with previous aneurysms or those with high blood pressure. hereditary predisposition to them.

Pain in the lower back due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm does not decrease with time and may be accompanied by pain in the abdomen and legs.

If an aneurysm is suspected, abdominal ultrasound and computed tomography are prescribed.

Treatment depends on the size of the aneurysm. Small changes require monitoring with an instrumental examination twice a year and lifestyle adjustments. Significant (more than 5 cm, with high risk of rupture) is an indication for abdominal or minimally invasive surgery.

How to prevent lower back pain

Since back pain is most often caused by traumatic injury to muscles, fascia, joints or bones, the main advice for prevention is to follow safety measures, maintain a strong muscle corset, as well as healthy bones and joints.

Prevention of back sprains and microtraumas:

  • a varied diet containing vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain healthy bone and muscle tissue and joints;
  • maintain a healthy weight;
  • regular physical activity: exercises to prevent back pain should include strength training to develop the muscle frame, stretching to relieve muscle tension and spasms, and cardio to maintain blood supply and tissue nutrition;
  • observing safety measures while playing sports - for example, the first lessons in the gym should be led by a qualified trainer;
  • observing safety measures at home - many injuries can be avoided if you wear comfortable shoes, hold on to the railings on the stairs, take your time when it is slippery outside;
  • observing safety measures when lifting heavy objects - if you approach the object as close as possible (do not reach it) and bend your legs when lifting objects from the ground, the load on the spine will be less.
prevention of back pain

Yoga and Pilates classes help relieve spasms and tension in the lower back

Smoking disrupts blood circulation and tissue nutrition, increasing the risk of injury and damage.

What to do if the lower back hurts

If your back hurts, the reasons may be different, which means that the treatment tactics will also be different.

In case of severe physical fatigue, it is necessary to rest the back - perhaps this will be enough for muscle recovery and the mobility of the spine to return.

If the pain does not go away within 1-2 days or is very severe, you should consult a doctor. While waiting for the doctor, you can try to relieve acute pain with pain relievers.

During the reception, the doctor will conduct an examination, determine the cause of the pain and give recommendations for treatment. This will help to eliminate dangerous conditions and prevent the development of complications.

Warming (back pepper patch, hot water bottle, sauna) is contraindicated for inflammation, but can relieve acute pain in the lower back due to muscle fatigue or pinched nerve. These methods can be used only after consulting a doctor.

Which doctor should I consult with a complaint of back pain?

If you suspect the pathology of the musculoskeletal system, you should contact a neurologist and orthopedic traumatologist.

Diagnosis is carried out during physical examination and using instrumental methods: magnetic resonance therapy, computed tomography, X-ray and ultrasound. It is also possible to prescribe a study that allows you to assess the state of nerve and muscle fibers - myelogram (X-ray or CT study with a contrast agent injected into the spinal canal) and electromyography.

If you suspect kidney disease, you should contact a urologist, nephrologist or therapist. The doctor will analyze the complaints and conduct a physical examination, then prescribe laboratory and instrumental tests to clarify the diagnosis.

Based on blood and urine tests, the doctor will be able to determine whether there is inflammation in the organs of the urinary system, and ultrasound and X-ray studies will help to visualize the organs, determine the cause of the pain and choose the most effective treatment. tactics.

If the origin of back pain is unclear, you should consult a general practitioner or therapist.

The doctor will take an anamnesis (medical history), analyze hereditary risks, perform a physical examination and prescribe tests to identify inflammatory processes or disorders in the work of internal organs.

A general blood test helps to identify the inflammatory process.

If necessary, the doctor will send you to instrumental studies (ultrasound, X-ray, MRI) or recommend contacting a specialist for further diagnosis and treatment.