It has been estimated that 80-90% of the general population will experience lower back pain at one time or another in their life. Typically, these episodes are temporary and do not require additional treatment or work-up. But then the question remains, what caused the back pain in the first place. In fact, the question is asked so often, even is casual conversation that I thought it might be a good idea to address it. When evaluating a person with lower back pain, it is easier to group possible causes of back pain by their respective anatomy:
1. Discogenic (or disc-related) back pain
2. Facet-joint mediated pain
3. Myofascial (or muscular) pain
5. Non-spine related sources of lower back pain
The anatomy is best thought of as a sequence of bone (vertebrae) and discs. The bone is supportive structure of the spine, while the disc are dynamic structures which act as "shock-absorbers" while allowing movement of the neck and back. While the disc sits in the front portion of the spine, there are also small joints in the back of the spine. These joints are more specifically referred to "facet" or "zygapophyseal" joints. They support the posterior aspect of the spine. Muscles then surround the spine, allowing for additional support and movement of the trunk.
I will attend to further details about each cause of pain in future blog posts.
[Please keep in mind this is educational and information should not be used for diangostic or treatment purposes. If you have lower back pain, it is best you seek medical evaluation should symptoms persist.]