What conditions are associated
with low back pain?
Conditions that may cause low back pain and require
treatment by a physician or other health specialist
disc (also called protruding, herniated, or ruptured
disc). The intervertebral discs are under constant pressure. As discs
degenerate and weaken, cartilage can bulge or be pushed into the space
containing the spinal cord or a nerve root, causing pain. Studies have shown
that most herniated discs occur in the lower, lumbar portion of the spinal
- A much more serious complication of a ruptured disc
equina syndrome, which occurs when disc material is pushed into the
spinal canal and compresses the bundle of lumbar and sacral nerve roots.
Permanent neurological damage may result if this syndrome is left
Sciatica is a condition in which a herniated or
ruptured disc presses on the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that extends down
the spinal column to its exit point in the pelvis and carries nerve fibers to
the leg. This compression causes shock-like or burning low back pain combined
with pain through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee, occasionally
reaching the foot. In the most extreme cases, when the nerve is pinched between
the disc and an adjacent bone, the symptoms involve not pain but numbness and
some loss of motor control over the leg due to interruption of nerve signaling.
The condition may also be caused by a tumor, cyst, metastatic disease, or
degeneration of the sciatic nerve root.
- Spinal degeneration from disc wear and tear can lead
to a narrowing of the spinal canal. A person with spinal degeneration may
experience stiffness in the back upon awakening or may feel pain after walking
or standing for a long time.
stenosis related to congenital narrowing of the bony canal
predisposes some people to pain related to disc
Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone
disease marked by progressive decrease in bone density and strength. Fracture of
brittle, porous bones in the spine and hips results when the body fails to
produce new bone and/or absorbs too much existing bone. Women are four times
more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. Caucasian women of northern
European heritage are at the highest risk of developing the
An osteoporotic elderly woman in Japan. Author - James Heilman, MD
Skeletal irregularities produce
strain on the vertebrae and supporting muscles, tendons, ligaments, and tissues
supported by spinal column. These irregularities include scoliosis, a
curving of the spine to the side; kyphosis, in which the normal curve
of the upper back is severely rounded; lordosis, an abnormally
accentuated arch in the lower back; back extension, a bending backward
of the spine; and back flexion, in which the spine bends
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder
characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple “tender
points,” particularly in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. Additional
symptoms may include sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, and
refers to chronic back pain and stiffness caused by a severe infection
to or inflammation of the spinal joints. Other painful inflammations in the
lower back include osteomyelitis (infection in the bones of the spine)
and sacroiliitis (inflammation in the sacroiliac
© 2010 Vivacare. Last updated April 5, 2011.
Reference: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and
your specific medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a
visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care
professional. Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care
professional with any health-related questions or concerns.
Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or
health care professional.