Symptoms of back pain

The term “lower back pain” is often 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 the lower spine is so close to a large amount of nervous tissue, including the sciatic nerve, any inflammation or misalignment of spinal anatomy can also cause nerve compression and pain to travel from the spine through nerve pathways into the lower body.

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 a 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 doctor. 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.

Treatment options for back pain

In most cases of back pain, doctors will first suggest a course of conservative treatment options, such as rest, medication, physical therapy, massage and spinal injections, to manage symptoms and improve mobility. While many patients find pain relief from conservative treatments, surgery can become a serious consideration if weeks or months of treatment do not bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life.

At Laser Spine Institute, our board-certified surgeons+ perform a range of minimally invasive spine surgery, including foraminotomy, laminotomy, discectomy and facet thermal ablation procedures to relieve back pain symptoms by addressing the cause of the pain. Our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures have helped thousands of 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. You can also contact us with any further questions or would like to know more about Laser Spine Institute.

We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.