Lower Back Pain

/ Conditions Treated / Lower Back Pain
  • Overview

Lower back pain is one of the most disabling conditions throughout the world. Lower back pain also results in a large number of disability cases affecting young adults and their capacity to work. Low back pain affects people of all ages: from youngsters to the elderly. At Arizona Chiropractic & Holistic Health Center in Scottsdale, we treat lower back pain frequently. We work with patients to determine the source of their low back pain in order to treat it effectively and efficiently.

  • Signs and Symptoms

Low back pain can be anything from a dull ache in the muscles to a shooting, searing, or stabbing pain that travels down the leg or worsens with bending, twisting, lifting, standing, or walking. Depending on the nerves involved, some back problems might produce discomfort in other places of the body.

Additional signs and symptoms include:

Leg pain.

When you cough, sneeze or move into certain postures, a sharp or searing pain may shoot into your leg.

Numbness or tingling.

People who have low back pain often have radiating numbness or tingling in the body part controlled by the affected nerves.

Weakness.

The muscles controlled by the afflicted nerves will deteriorate with time which may make you trip and fall or change the way you walk.

Muscle spasms.

Muscular spasms are painful, uncontrollable muscle contractions coupled with tightness.

Decreased range of motion.

Low back pain may make it hard to move or stand up straight without pain or cause diminished ability to flex the back.

When to see a doctor

Lower back pain symptoms that may indicate a serious problem include:

  • pain doesn’t improve with rest or within two weeks

  • loss of control with the bowel or bladder

  • numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee

  • Low back pain following trauma (ex. a fall, a strike to the back or any type of injury)

  • continuous, excruciating pain that worsens at night or interferes with routine daily activities

  • unexplained weight loss

  • abdominal pain that is accompanied with a throbbing feeling

  • low back pain accompanied with fever

Seek immediate care if severe lower back pain results from an injury, such as a motor vehicle accident, diving accident or fall.

  • What causes lower back pain?

The majority of acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that the way the back's components (the spine, muscle, intervertebral discs, and nerves) fit together and move is disrupted. Common reasons of low back pain include the following:
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Muscle strains or ligament sprains.

Muscles and ligaments in the lower back can be strained by repeated heavy lifting or a sudden strange movement. Constant tension or overuse (spending too much time slumped over a computer or smartphone) on your back can produce severe muscle spasms.
[2]

Trusted Source

American Family Physician

Peer-reviewed journal

Go to source

Slipped or bulging disks.

Disks act as cushions between the bones of your spine (vertebrae). The soft part of the disk can expand or rupture, which puts pressure on a nerve root.
[3]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Arthritis.

Like every joint, the facet joints in the lower back can wear down. In some cases, severe wear on the facet joints can cause pressure on nerve roots, can cause inflammation, decreased mobility, and pain.
[3]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Falls.

The most prevalent cause of low back pain is falls from bed or a ladder, down stairs, in the bath, and other falls, especially in elderly persons and children.

Vehicle-related collisions.

Low back pain is frequently caused by collisions involving vehicles, motorbikes, or bicycles, as well as pedestrians engaged in such events.

Sports injuries.

Injuries from a variety of sports, including soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, and other high-impact or intense activities, can cause low back discomfort. These are especially common among teenagers.

Being pregnant.

Pregnancy may be linked to low back pain.

Baby care.

Lifting your child frequently requires you to use your thumbs as leverage, which can cause low back pain.

Scoliosis or deformity.

This is a condition in which the spinal column curves abnormally. If the facet joints and discs break down, this deformity can lead to low back pain.

  • Risk factors

Lower back pain can affect anyone from toddlers to teens to elderly. Things that may increase your chances of having back pain include:

Age.

Lower back pain becomes increasingly common as you age, beginning around the age of 30 or 40 as a result of factors such as past employment and degenerative disk disease.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source
[4]

Trusted Source

Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders

Peer-reviewed journal

Go to source

Your sex.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from low back pain.
[5]

Trusted Source

Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery

Peer-reviewed journal

Internationally recognized journal

Go to source

Deconditioned Individuals.

Lower back pain can be caused by weak, underused postural muscles in the back and abdomen.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Being overweight.

Increased load puts your lower back under additional strain.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Lifting With Poor Biomechanics

Lower back pain can result from using your back instead of your legs.

Improper warmup. 

Low back pain can originate from not stretching or warming up before engaging in high-impact exercises.

Diseases.

Low back pain can be caused by certain types of arthritis and cancer.

Psychological conditions.

Back pain appears to be more common in people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or a high stress lifestyle.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Heavy Backpacks.

 Overloading a backpack with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the spine and create muscle fatigue in children.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Smoking.

Low back pain is more common in smokers. This could be due to the fact that smoking causes increased coughing, which can lead to herniated disks. Smoking can also reduce blood flow to the spine, putting you at risk for osteoporosis.
[6]

Trusted Source

Journal of Pain Research

Peer-reviewed journal

Internationally recognized journal

Go to source

Occupation. 

Work that demands you to twist your back, move large items, or drive a motor vehicle for lengthy periods of time may contribute to low back pain. Working at a desk all day can also cause pain—particularly if you have bad posture or are sitting in a chair with insufficient back support.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source
  • Complications of condition

When you have lower back pain, it’s critical to identify and treat any underlying medical conditions that may be causing or contributing to your symptoms. Failure to treat low back pain can result in physical problems like cauda equina syndrome, accelerated degeneration, persistent pain or mobility loss, while social complications can include missed work, decreased productivity, poor sleep or depression.
[7]

Trusted Source

Academic textbook

Backed by various research articles

Written for professionals

Go to source

Bladder or bowel dysfunction.

Such as incontinence or difficulty urinating even with a full bladder.
[8]

Trusted Source

Academic textbook

Backed by various research articles

Written for professionals

Go to source

Saddle anesthesia.

Such as incontinence or difficulty urinating even with a full bladder.
[9]

Trusted Source

British Journal of General Practice

Peer-reviewed journal

Internationally recognized journal

Go to source

Abdominal pain.

loss of sensation around the inner thighs, back of legs, or around the rectum.
[10]

Trusted Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Governmental authority

Go to source
  • Diagnosis

What to expect from your doctor

Establishing the underlying cause of low back pain necessitates a precise diagnosis, so our doctor can come up with the best method to treat your lower back pain. Any major problems that may be causing your low back pain will typically be identified by a thorough medical history and physical examination.
[11]

Trusted Source

Journal of the American Medical Association

Peer-reviewed journal

Internationally recognized journal

Go to source

Your doctor will most likely ask you questions regarding medical history.

During the physical exam, your doctor may perform additional testing.

Possible Questions:

  • How long have you been suffering from lower back pain?

  • On a scale of 0 to 10, how severe is your lower back pain?

  • Does anything make your low back pain better (ex. any position or posture that decreases the pain)?

  • What activities or motions make your lower back pain worse?

  • Does your low back pain keep you up at night?

  • Do you have any other symptoms in addition to lower back pain?

  • Do you exercise regularly? What types of activities do you do?

  • What treatments have you tried so far? Has anything helped?

  • Did you have any recent or prior injuries to your low back?

Complete responses to these questions provide a detailed picture of your everyday life so our doctor can figure out what’s causing your lower back pain.

Possible Tests:

  • range of motion

  • reflexes

  • isometric muscle strength

  • ability to detect different types of sensory input in your legs (ex. pain, cold)

Your doctor will also do special neurological tests in order to determine the cause of pain, rule out more serious conditions and determine the appropriate treatment.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source

Imaging Tests:

Your doctor may order imaging tests in order to rule out specific causes of pain, including tumors and spinal stenosis.
[1]

Trusted Source

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health

Go to source
Examples include:
  • X-ray. These images are great at seeing bones and can be helpful in finding alignment issues, arthritis or fractured bones; however, x-rays can’t be used to detect problems with your spinal cord, muscles, nerves or disks.

  • MRI or CT scans. This type of imaging is not limited to bones. MRIs or CT scans can reveal herniated disks, muscle or ligament tears, and is great for seeing soft tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.

  • How we can Help

After learning about the severity of your injury, assessing your musculoskeletal system, and identifying any abnormalities that may be contributing to your lower back pain, a care plan is created and tailored to your needs. Our main objective is to get you back to normal as quickly as possible. In order to do that, we will likely recommend one or more of the following:

Chiropractic icon

Chiropractic

Chiropractic adjustments are mostly used on the spine and include applying a controlled, sudden force to a joint with intent to restore motion. Chiropractic adjustments can be done manually, using hand-held devices, or a drop table.

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Massage therapy icon

Massage Therapy

A professional practitioner manipulates the muscles with his or her hands during a massage.

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Platelet Rich Plasma Injections

Injections

Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may suggest injecting platelet-rich plasma, some form of irritant (prolotherapy), or trigger point injections.

Learn About 

spinal decompression icon

Non-surgical Spinal decompression

If your pain is related to nerve root irritation, your doctor may recommend using a type of traction that utilizes pulleys or to gently stretch your spine.

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cold laser icon

Physio Therapy

We have a variety of modalities to reduce inflammation, break down scar tissue, manipulate tissue, and accelerate healing.

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In order to back up the information in our articles, Arizona Chiropractic & Holistic Health Center exclusively cites high-quality sources such as peer-reviewed research. We strive to provide accurate, dependable, and trustworthy content based on the best evidence avaliable.

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Low Back Pain Fact Sheet | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
  2. Casazza B. A. (2012). Diagnosis and treatment of acute low back pain. American family physician, 85(4), 343–350. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22335313/
  3. Back Pain. (2021, January 28). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain
  4. Wong, A., Karppinen, J., & Samartzis, D. (2017). Low back pain in older adults: risk factors, management options and future directions. Scoliosis and spinal disorders, 12, 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13013-017-0121-3
  5. Wáng, Y. X., Wáng, J. Q., & Káplár, Z. (2016). Increased low back pain prevalence in females than in males after menopause age: evidences based on synthetic literature review. Quantitative imaging in medicine and surgery, 6(2), 199–206. https://doi.org/10.21037/qims.2016.04.06
  6. Alkherayf. (2010). Daily smoking and lower back pain in adult Canadians: the Canadian Community Health Survey. Journal of Pain Research, 155. https://doi.org/10.2147/jpr.s11031
  7. Casiano VE, Dydyk AM, Varacallo M. Back Pain. [Updated 2021 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538173/
  8. Kim, K. H., & Kim, D. H. (2010). Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Pain. Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques, 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-7020-2913-4.00001-x
  9. Fairbank, J., & Mallen, C. (2014). Cauda equina syndrome: implications for primary care. British Journal of General Practice, 64(619), 67–68. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp14x676988
  10. Aortic Aneurysm | cdc.gov. (2021, September 27). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/aortic_aneurysm.html
  11. Goodman, D. M., Burke, A. E., & Livingston, E. H. (2013). Low Back Pain. JAMA, 309(16), 1738. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2013.3046

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