The lower back or lumbar area provides structural support, movement and protection to certain tissues and organs of our body. The bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the lower back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area are all important structures of the lower back which can relate to why we have lumber back pain.
A little anatomy of the lower back tells us that the bony lumbar spine provides movement and protection to the spinal cord from injury, and we also have discs, which are pads that provide cushions between the individual vertebrae bodies. These “cushion” pads help minimize the impact of stress in the spinal cord. The nerves we have in the lumbar area provide sensation and stimulate the lower area, as well as the thighs, legs, feet and toes, while the many muscle groups allow movement for the waist and lower extremities- like flexing, extending and rotating. Important to maintaining bladder and bowel control are the lymph nodes or glands and the tissues of the involuntary nervous system. For women, the uterus and ovaries are significant pelvic structures in the pelvic area, while the men have the prostate glands. Kidneys are on each side of the back of the lower abdomen, and the skin over the lumbar area is supplied by the nerves.
So how important is our lumbar area exactly? When we stand up, it is the lower back that provides support to the weight of the upper body. Various movements such as bending, rotating the waist, and extending involves the lower back. Therefore, injury to these structures can easily be detected when the body is standing up or moving.
One of the most common causes of lumber back pain is acute (occurring in days or weeks) or chronic (lasting for longer than three months) lumbar strain, which is a stretch injury to the ligaments, tendons and muscles of the area because of over-use, improper use, or trauma. Though lumbar strain can occur to any person of any age, it is very common to people in their forties. To remedy this type of lumbar pain, one should rest his back to avoid reinjury, take medications to relieve pain and muscle spasm, massage or have physical therapy, and do reconditioning exercises. Back-protection techniques and devices at home and at work are also needed to avoid future injuries.
Lumbar radiculopathy is another cause of lower back pain, which is nerve irritation caused by “normal wear and tear” damage or physical injury to the discs between the vertebrae. This rupture of the discs causes the commonly known “sciatica” pain, from the low back, to the buttocks shooting down the leg. This pain worsens with movements at the waist, and can aggravate with coughing and sneezing. The sciatica of lumbar radiculopathy affects only one side of the body, and never both. To treat this, one can choose medical management, or if necessary, surgery. Medical management ranges from patient education, medications to relieve pain, epidural injection, physical therapy, and some significant amount of rest to prevent aggravation.
Why we have lumbar back pain be easily investigated with your physiological history, but it is more important to find out what can remedy this pain with how you manage your body.