Common Lower Back PainBack pain is very common. Most people will experience some form of it in their lives, usually in the lower back. This is because the lower back is subject to a great deal of stress and strain. The good news is that back pain usually isn’t serious, although it can still be very hard to bear. There are many reasons for back pain, and they can be different depending on a person’s age.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
The back is made up of a network of muscles, nerves, bones, discs and tendons, and when problems arise with any of them, lower back pain can be the result. The pain can be caused by nerve irritation, muscle strain, ligament or joint damage and the degeneration of an inter-vertebral disc. Back pain is unpredictable, and greater pain might not necessarily indicate a greater problem.
Younger adults under 60 are more likely to experience back pain from a muscle strain or soft tissue strain, or from a problem with a disc. Older adults aged 60 and over are more likely to experience pain from joint degeneration.
According to Safe Work Australia, back strains are the most common type of workplace injury/disease. Just over one in six serious claims are for back pain from manual handling.
What to Watch Out For
Every so often, back pain is a sign of something more serious, like an autoimmune disease or cancer. If back pain is worse at night and / or comes with other signs of being ill, you should definitely see a doctor. This can be a sign of a tumor near or in the spine.
One of the more serious causes of lower back pain is cuada equina syndrome, a pinching and swelling of the nerves at the base of the spinal cord. Symptoms include difficulty urinating, incontinence and weak legs. Without prompt medical intervention, this condition can cause paralysis, loss of bladder and / or bowel control, trouble walking and other problems.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor for lower back pain if
- the back pain appeared following a trauma
- the pain is constant and appears to be getting worse
- the pain has been around for four weeks or more
- the pain is worse at night
- the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever and chills or unexplained weight loss.
Written by Shine Lawyers on October 27, 2016. Last modified: September 6, 2018.