Chronic lower back pain: what are the causes and treatments?

For many people, occasional lower back pain is a normal occurrence, especially as we get older. These small bursts of pain can be caused by daily activities, such as bending and stooping during yard work or lifting heavy groceries out of the trunk. Generally, this pain goes away after a few days of rest and over-the-counter medication. However, some cases of lower back pain can become chronic, meaning persistent discomfort that lasts for longer than three months.

Chronic pain in the lower back can have a range of causes, but it is often related to a degenerative spine condition. If you’ve been experiencing pain for several months without knowing the underlying cause, contact your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms so you can work together to find an effective treatment for pain relief.

Causes of chronic lower back pain

Ongoing pain in the lower back can be caused by a number of spine conditions affecting the lumbar (lower) region of the spine. These conditions develop slowly as age and gradual wear on the spine cause certain components to become damaged and put pressure on surrounding nerves. These conditions can include:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Osteoarthritis

Patients who are diagnosed with these conditions very often experience pain in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, legs and feet. These lower body symptoms can be an indication of pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve — a condition called sciatica. Though symptoms can be debilitating and take you away from normal activities, there are several treatment options available to reduce your pain and help you get back to your normal lifestyle.

Treatments for chronic lower back pain

For many patients, doctor-recommended conservative treatments are effective in relieving lower back pain. Some of these conservative treatments include over-the-counter medications, limited rest, stretching, strengthening exercises and hot/cold therapy. Some patients also choose to complement conventional methods with alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture or chiropractic care.

Surgery to relieve nerve compression in the lower back can become a serious consideration if conservative treatments have been fully explored without relieving chronic pain and other symptoms. Before consenting to a recommended procedure, especially if it is a traditional open back surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute.

Since 2005, our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. To see if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a no-cost MRI review.*