Lumbar Pain

Lumbar pain refers to pain in the lower back. The term lumbar will often refer the lumbar vertebrae of the spine or associated structures. In the human spine, the lumbar vertebrae are the last five vertebra of the spinal cord. Lumbar pain may also be referred to as dorsalgia, lumbago, low back pain, or lower back pain. Sometimes, the terms lumbar pain and back pain are used interchangeably because about 80% of all patients suffer from lower back pain symptoms. The symptoms of lumbar pain can include the physical sensations of pain, as well as stiffness, muscle spasms, and reduced mobility, that can affect the quality of a person's life. Luckily, lumbar pain symptoms resolve on their own before a person passes the acute stage of back pain, and people with subacute and chronic back pain have a lot of options available to them.

Usually, back pain in the acute stage of the problem is due to the overwork of the muscles that support the spine, and is not a result of damage to the spine itself. This type of lumbar pain, sometimes referred to as sprain and strain injuries, will usually get better on its own. Other causes of lumbar pain may require medical intervention. Lumbar pain may be due to mechanical changes to the body, inflammatory conditions, neoplastic in origin (benign and malignant tumors), metabolic disease, have emotional connections (depression and anxiety), or due to systemic disease. Let's look at some back pain causes and treatments for the various types of lumbar pain.

You will see below, that there are many causes of back pain, though mechanical causes account for close to 100% of all cases. Here are the main categories of back pain causes:
  • Mechanical
  • Inflammatory
  • Neoplastic
  • Metabolic
  • Psychosomatic
  • Disease
  • Referred pain
  • Depression
  • Oxygen Deprivation


Mechanical causes of back pain refer to injury or structural changes to the musculoskeletal system that cause structural imbalances and pain. Mechanical causes of back pain related to the muscles that support the spine usually get better on their own in 2-4 weeks, because the muscles and bones are highly vascular and thus have a strong capacity to heal themselves. Ligaments, tendons and intervertebral discs are more vulnerable to degeneration, especially after an injury, and may heal more slowly.

Injuries: Injuries are common causes of mechanical lumbar pain, and may result in acute or chronic pain, depending on the structures affected. Injuries or trauma to the back may affect the spine itself, or the structures supporting the spine (such as the tendons, ligaments, and muscles). Examples of spine injuries include fractures, sprains, and tears in the ligaments that support the spine. Fractures are less common in younger patients free of metabolic disease, because the lumbar bones in the lower spine are very strong, though they may occur in cases of extreme trauma (such as car accidents). A fracture is the medical term for a broken bone. More often, mechanical causes of back pain result when a patient uses improper lifting techniques of heavy objects, or when patients bend or twist in beyond a range that their ligaments and tendon of the spine can stretch or pull. Other mechanical causes of back pain include abnormal foot pronation, restricted hip motion, and thoracic or lumbar spinal stenosis.