Understanding Lumbago

Lumbago is simply a generic term for undefined or undiagnosed low back pain. The lower, or lumbar, region of the spine is the most common area of the back for pain in American adults. In fact, nearly 80 percent of American adults will experience this type of back pain at one point in their lives or another. Acute lumbago is often caused by activity of stress, and generally is self-resolving over time. However, some patients suffering from lumbago may have lasting and chronic pain, caused by underlying conditions.

Possible causes of lumbago

Living with lumbago can greatly reduce a patient’s overall quality of life. With symptoms such as pain, tingling, inability to walk and stand for long periods of time, and weakness, patients suffering from lower back pain can often feel defeated by their symptoms. A large portion of lower back pain is caused by degenerative conditions, which develop during the natural aging process. These conditions often include:

  • Spinal stenosis- Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows. This is often caused by disc material, bone spurs or other spinal elements that have moved from their original location, or developed over time. This restricts the nerves and, at times, the spinal cord from flowing freely.
  • Bulging disc – This condition is caused by intervertebral discs being placed under increased pressure. As this happens, the disc may bulge and shift from its general location pressing against surrounding nerve roots or the spinal cord, causing chronic symptoms and pain.
  • Herniated disc – When intervertebral discs split or tear the soft inside of the disc may seep into the spinal column. This is called a herniated disc. When this disc material pressed against the spinal cord or surrounding nerves, the patient may experience pain and other symptoms.
  • Sciatica – Compression of the sciatic nerves is called sciatica. This can cause radiating pain and symptoms.
  • Facet disease – During the natural aging process, the facet joints, which are covered in cartilage, begin to degenerate. This is called facet disease.
  • Foraminal stenosis – Like spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the exit of the foramen. Then the nerves that exit through this canal are impinged, patients will experience chronic pain and symptoms.
  • Bone spurs – Bone spurs are masses that develop during the aging process. Though these are asymptomatic on their own, when they develop too close to the spinal cord or surrounding nerve roots they may cause compression, resulting in pain or other symptoms.
  • Annular tear – Annular tears are small tears or rips in the intervertebral discs. These can cause herniation, resulting in disc material seeping into the spinal column.
  • Arthritis of the spine – Though there is no cure for arthritis, as we age the cartilage surrounding our joints begins to degenerate. This can cause arthritic symptoms and pain.

Conservative treatments for lumbago

The first form of treatment we generally recommend to patients with new onset of lumbago is to try conservative options. These generally include low-impact exercise, stretching and physical therapy. If you are suffering from chronic pain and symptoms that are lasting after exhausting conservative treatments, Laser Spine Institute may be able to assist you in finding relief. Specializing in minimally invasive procedures, we offer patients an effective alternative to traditional open back procedures. To see if you may be a candidate for a procedure at one of our regional centers, contact Laser Spine Institute today.