Low back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world and 80% of U.S. adults will experience low back pain at some point in their life—and the majority of U.S. cases are people who spend most of their workday sitting.
Common causes of low back pain:
- Sprains and strains are the most common for acute low back pain. Sprains are caused by overstretched or torn ligaments. Strains are tears in tendons or muscles. Both sprains and strains can be caused by moving or lifting incorrectly, lifting things that are too heavy or overstretching. Improper movement can also trigger painful muscle spasms in the low back.
- Disc degeneration is a very common mechanical cause of low back pain in which the intervertebral discs lose their integrity over time. During the normal aging process, changes in the discs occur which can lead to loss of range of motion, increased stiffness and less cushioning ability.
- Herniated or ruptured discs are vulnerable to being compressed too much, causing a bulge or rupture of the disc itself. The disc material then presses onto the surrounding nerves which causes pain, numbness, tingling and/or muscle weakness. This is called a radiculopathy—a condition caused by compression, inflammation and/or injury to spinal nerve roots. Low back radiculopathy can refer symptoms into the hip, groin, leg and/or foot.
- Sciatica is a type of radiculopathy where the sciatic nerve is compressed. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that travels from the spine, through the buttocks and into the back of the leg. There can be pain, numbness, tingling and/or muscle weakness.
- A traumatic injury usually a result from contact sports, car accidents, falls or direct trauma. The traumatic injury can result in disc or nerve injury, muscle spasms or tears.
- Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis, increased lumbar lordosis or other anomalies of the spine.
The good news is that there is help for low back pain! The combination of Pilates exercises and hands-on Physical Therapy care is very successful in regaining strength, alignment, flexibility and overall health of the spine.