Back pain symptoms

The term “lower back pain” is used to describe a range of pain and discomfort in the lower back. Depending on the cause, lower back pain may be dull, burning or sharp, and may cover a broad area or be confined to a single point. It can worsen gradually or suddenly and may be accompanied by muscle spasms or stiffness.

Sometimes the pain could be caused by something as simple as a pulled muscle from lifting incorrectly, or it could be caused by something more serious like a degenerative spine condition. Because both the muscles and the spine in the lower back are so close to several large nerve roots, including the sciatic nerve, any inflammation or misalignment can cause a nerve to be pinched and pain to travel from the spine through the nerve pathway into the legs.

Radiating pain from the lower back to the legs

Leg pain is often associated with a problem in the lower back. Often, the pain will travel from the spine through the buttocks and into the legs, though sometimes the pain is only felt in the legs, making it difficult to diagnose. Leg symptoms can include pain, numbness or tingling above or below the knee.

Weakness in both legs, along with loss of bladder and/or bowel control, is a symptom of more serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.

It is important for you to be familiar with the different levels of back pain so you can accurately describe your symptoms to your physician. Back pain can be:

  • Acute: lasting less than three months. Most people gain relief after four to six weeks of home treatment.
  • Recurrent: a repeat episode of acute symptoms. Most people have at least one episode of recurrent lower back pain.
  • Chronic: continuously lasting longer than three months.

Common causes of numbness include the following:

  • Radiculopathy: a pinched nerve due to a herniated disc
  • Stenosis: a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress sensory nerve fibers, causing loss of sensation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Degenerative spine condition
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Treatment options for back pain

Depending on the cause of your chronic back pain, your physician may recommend conservative treatments, such as pain medication and lifestyle changes, or surgical treatment, such as spine fusion. While many patients find pain relief from conservative treatments, you should begin to research different surgical options in case your pain does not diminish.

At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures such as foraminotomy, laminotomy, “discectomy”: or a facet thermal ablation to relieve back pain symptoms by addressing the cause of the pain. Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures have helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain, and offer a lower risk and shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back surgery.

If you have unanswered questions, please review our back pain FAQ page. We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions encountered. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or would like to know more about Laser Spine Institute.