Having lower back pain is a common occurrence and one of the main reasons that people visit a health care professional. Pain in this area can be chronic and occur on a regular basis due to conditions like arthritis, or it can occur suddenly but only last anywhere from a day to a few weeks. This latter type is known as acute back pain, and it’s associated with several potential causes, some of which are more common than others.
Muscle or Ligament Tears or Strains
Sudden lower back pain can occur when the muscles or ligaments that support this region are damaged or strained after being stretched too much. This leads to small tears in the muscle or ligament tissue and causes these structures to become weaker, which means they’re not able to fully support the spinal column. Lifting heavy objects incorrectly, bending over or leaning down repeatedly or doing intense workouts can all lead to muscle or ligament strains or tears.
Muscle spasms happen when the muscles in your lower back experience involuntary contractions, which leads to intense pain and tension. These can occur after you’ve suffered a lower back injury or as a result of disc abnormalities. Conditions that affect spinal discs can be present for years before the sudden onset of pain from muscle spasms occurs. Spasms caused by injuries typically occur soon after the muscles or ligaments are injured.
Herniated or Ruptured Disc
The discs in your spine provide cushioning for your spinal column and make it possible for you to perform actions like bending, but they can end up causing sudden lower back pain when they’re herniated or ruptured. When this happens, it means that a disc is either out of place or torn open from being strained or injured. The damaged or misaligned disc can put pressure on the nerves surrounding your spinal column, which makes your lower back hurt. For example, the disc can press on the sciatic nerve that stretches from your lower back to the lower part of your leg, which leads to a symptom called sciatica.
Fractures that can affect your lower back include compression fractures and spinal cord fractures. Compression fractures are mainly associated with arthritis. These breaks in your vertebrae occur suddenly and cause severe pain in the lower back region. Spinal cord fractures occur due to trauma, such as severe injuries from car accidents or sports accidents.
If you’re experiencing sudden lower back pain, it’s important to see a doctor to determine the cause. In rare cases, this pain can be caused by a serious condition, such as kidney problems. Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor can recommend a course of treatment. Traditional methods of treating back pain include pain medication, physical therapy, rest and surgery for severe cases, but there are several other types of treatments available as well. One alternative method is Functional Disc Rehydration, which helps relieve pressure on affected discs in order to rehydrate them and strengthen the spine. Talk to your doctor about available treatment methods, so you can choose one that will benefit you the most.
To learn more about the causes of sudden lower back pain and how to treat it, contact the Illinois Back Institute. For several years, we’ve been helping people throughout Illinois find relief from lower back pain.