Lower Back Pain
Table of Contents
- Low back pain facts
- What is the anatomy of the low back?
- What is the anatomy of the low back? (Continued)
- What is the function of the low back?
- What are common causes of lower back pain?
- Nerve irritation and lumbar radiculopathy causes of lower back pain
- Bony encroachment causes of lower back pain
- Conditions of bone and joint causes of lower back pain
- What are other causes of lower back pain?
- What are uncommon causes of low back pain?
- What are uncommon causes of low back pain? (Continued)
- What are risk factors for low back pain?
- What are other symptoms and signs sometimes associated with low back pain?
- How do health care professionals diagnose low back pain?
- What is the treatment for low back pain?
- Are there home remedies for low back pain?
- What is the prognosis for low back pain?
- Is it possible to prevent low back pain?
- Which health care specialties treat low back pain?
What are uncommon causes of low back pain? (Continued)
Infection of the cartilage and/or bone of the spine
Infection of the discs (septic discitis) and bone (osteomyelitis) is extremely rare. These conditions lead to localized pain associated with fever. The bacteria found when these tissues are tested with laboratory cultures include Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB bacteria). TB infection in the spine is called Pott's disease. These are each very serious conditions requiring long courses of antibiotics. The sacroiliac joints rarely become infected with bacteria. Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can involve the sacroiliac joints and is usually transmitted in raw goat's milk.
Aneurysm of the aorta
In the elderly, atherosclerosis can cause weakening of the wall of the large arterial blood vessel (aorta) in the abdomen. This weakening can lead to a bulging (aneurysm) of the aorta wall. While most aneurysms cause no symptoms, some cause a pulsating low back pain. Aneurysms of certain size, especially when enlarging over time, can require surgical repair with a grafting procedure to repair the abnormal portion of the artery.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is an acute infection of the nerves that supply sensation to the skin, generally at one or several spinal levels and on one side of the body (right or left). Patients with shingles usually have had chickenpox earlier in life. The herpes virus that causes chickenpox is believed to exist in a dormant state within the spinal nerve roots long after the chickenpox resolves. In people with shingles, this virus reactivates to cause infection along the sensory nerve, leading to nerve pain and usually an outbreak of shingles (tiny blisters on the same side of the body and at the same nerve level). The back pain in patients with shingles of the lumbar area can precede the skin rash by days. Successive crops of tiny blisters can appear for several days and clear with crusty inflammation in one to two weeks. Patients occasionally are left with a more chronic nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia). Treatment can involve symptomatic relief with lotions, such as calamine, or medications, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), for the infection and pregabalin (Lyrica) or lidocaine (Lidoderm) patches for the pain.