Man with back pain

What is Causing My Back Pain?

Back pain is the number one complaint heard at the doctor’s office. There are a variety of potential causes for back pain. For most sufferers, it can be difficult to understand why your back hurts and what can be done to make it better. Fortunately, for anyone living in or near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, our pain management clinic offers a range of solutions to your back pain problems. But first, what might be causing your back pain? We can perform a proper diagnosis for you, but it’s helpful to have some basic knowledge on hand first.

#1 – Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Lower back (lumbar) and cervical (neck) pain if often a result of degenerative disc disease (DDD). A patient may experience DDD as young as their thirties but is more common in people over the age of 50.

As the term may suggest, degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease; rather, it’s an age-related weakening of the spinal discs. This typically involves a breaking down of the disc wall and a loss of fluid in the discs. First, the outer layer of spinal discs develops tiny cracks or tears that allow fluid to leak out, leading to bulging, fragmented, or broken discs. This degeneration makes the discs unsuitable to absorb shock from our daily movements and it affects the surrounding nerves, which causes pain.

#2 – Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint syndrome affects the facet joints in the spinal column. It is often characterized by pain and swelling due to osteoarthritis that occurs between two spinal vertebrae. Facet joint syndrome is commonly associated with getting older, suffering an injury, or consistent back stress and tension. Those with facet joint syndrome often have difficulties bending or twisting their back. Treatment can potentially involve physical therapy, spinal injections, or regenerative medicine treatment.

#3 – Sciatica

Sciatica isn’t technically a medical pain condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying pain condition. Your sciatic nerve extends from your lower back into your legs. Those with sciatica experience shooting pain through these regions, however it usually only affects one side of the body. Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine), bone spurs, and herniated discs are the most common causes of sciatica. Sciatic pain can be severe but it can also be reduced or eliminated with physical therapy or other non-operative treatments.

#4 – Lumbar Herniated Discs

Lumbar herniated discs often happen suddenly to people between the ages of 35 and 50. It occurs when the soft inner portion of an intervertebral disc bulges outside of the disc’s damaged outer wall or ring. It is frequently a result of age and degeneration, but it can also be a result of injury or damage due to strain. A bulging or herniated disc can also send pain throughout the back and into the legs. Symptoms are usually short-lived and treatable without needing surgery.

#5 – Injuries

Injuries are a common culprit of persistent back issues. A work injury can be caused by improper lifting (usually with your back and not your legs), use of improper equipment, falling on a hard surface, or even bending the wrong way. Most back injuries are acute, meaning they last less than 3 months, but some can be chronic. Those who suffer from a work injury to the spine might require physical therapy or medication depending on the severity of the injury.

These common back pain issues can all be painful and frustrating to manage, but our trained medical professionals can help to steer you in the right direction regarding treatment options. To schedule a consultation for back pain treatment, please call our office at (319) 774-8143.