Symptoms of Lower Back Pain

Symptoms and causes of lower back pain

Back pain, lumbar spine pain, lumbago, mechanical back pain, non-specific back pain, simple back pain and slipped discs are all terms used to describe painful symptoms emanating from the lower back and/or top of the buttocks. Often the pain experienced is moderate to severe restricting normal movement and function. Sitting, driving, rising to stand, putting on shoes & socks, washing up, brushing teeth and sitting on the loo are regularly reported as aggravating factors whilst heat, a change of position, walking and medication help to settle the pain.

Patients regularly report taking time off work and reducing participation in hobbies due to symptoms or fear of further harm. Disturbed or broken sleep is non-restorative, reducing resilience leading to further frustration, negative thoughts and mood disturbance.

Back pain is extremely common with 80-90% of the population likely to experience symptoms at least once in their lifetime. It may feel serious in the midst of it all as you experience spikes of pain with most normal movements, however, this is likely because the spine and surrounding muscles are central to all movements of the body and you are simply moving those structures; for example, you may have pulled/sprained the muscles of your lower spine, you may have aggravated a ligament, irritated a nerve, developed stiff spinal joints or most likely a combination of all. When rising from sitting the spinal muscles, ligaments and tendons will tighten and spinal joints extend. Despite this being a completely normal movement, the series of movements required at each structure can be enough to aggravate pain. Sitting down involves lengthening the spinal muscles, tendons and ligaments, flexing the lumbar spinal joints which again could trigger pain symptoms.

It’s important to remember that despite the levels of pain and distress often associated with back problems, the majority are not serious and are likely to ease off within a day or up to eight weeks.