What Causes Cycling Lower Back Pain?
The spine is the body’s central support structure, providing much-needed protection for the spinal cord, nerve roots, and nearby internal organs. Cycling lower back pain may be a symptom of a more serious condition. While some patients with cycling lower back pain only experience mild pain, others report unbearable pain that disrupts daily functions.
The first step on the road to recovery involves consulting with a board-certified spine specialist for effective treatment approaches. The solution to a patient’s cycling lower back pain depends on the source of the pain.
Once a spine surgeon discovers the underlying conditions responsible for cycling lower back pain, patients can begin receiving advanced spinal care tailored to his or her individual needs. With a dedicated staff of nationally recognized spinal experts, the team at New Jersey Spine Specialists understands the main conditions that cause cycling lower back pain and evidence-based treatment approaches to reduce painful symptoms.
Cycling Lower Back Pain From Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy refers to a combination of painful symptoms that develop when the nerve roots located in your spinal cord become compressed, pinched, or damaged. Depending on the affected area of the spine, a board-certified spine expert will diagnose patients with one of three types of radiculopathy.
- Lumbar Radiculopathy: Also known as sciatica, this type of radiculopathy appears most frequently in a patient’s lower back (lumbar spine).
- Cervical Radiculopathy: This type of radiculopathy occurs in a patient’s cervical spine, or neck, and affects the nerves managing sensation in the arms or hands.
- Thoracic Radiculopathy: A patient’s upper back is the least common area of the spine to experience nerve root compression. This type of radiculopathy can lead to numbness or pain in the front of a patient’s body.
Thirty-three vertebrae form the human spine, and contain vertebral discs, which cushions each vertebra from shock. But when an intervertebral disc becomes damaged, the vertebrae may irritate or compress surrounding nerve roots. The compressed nerve will often grow inflamed, which can lead to a combination of symptoms such as:
- Weakness in the legs or arms
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the extremities
- Sharp cycling pain in the shoulders, back, arms, or legs
Patients will also develop specific symptoms depending on the area of the pinched nerve roots. Patients risk developing radiculopathy from age-related “wear and tear”, obesity, performing repetitive motions, poor posture, and improper lifting techniques. Other common causes of radiculopathy include:
- Herniated discs
- Bone Spurs
- Spinal Stenosis
The first step towards treatment involves receiving an accurate diagnosis. A pain management specialist can perform a set of comprehensive physical examinations to evaluate muscle strength and reflexes. These exams may consist of diagnostic imaging, like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, and nerve conduction studies. After reaching a diagnosis, a patient’s spine surgeon will develop a unique radiculopathy treatment plan designed for each unique condition. This approach typically includes:
- Medications like anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or pain relievers
- Physical therapy to build muscle strength
- Steroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation
When painful symptoms fail to lessen, a patient’s board-certified spine expert may also recommend surgical intervention to relieve pressure on sensitive nerve roots.
Cycling Lower Back Pain From Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Osteoarthritis – or arthritis of the spine – refers to a degenerative disease that slowly breaks down bone near weight-bearing joints and disc cartilage. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain during or after movement, joint stiffness, loss of flexibility, swelling, and bone spurs. Spine specialists refer to osteoarthritis as a “wear and tear” disease because it causes deterioration of the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attaches muscle to bone. Other risk factors that patients should look out for include age, obesity, joint injuries, genetics, bone deformities, and certain metabolic diseases.
Patients can receive an accurate osteoarthritis diagnosis from a board-certified spine surgeon. Doctors will conduct a physical examination, checking for joint tenderness, swelling, redness, and flexibility. Spine experts can obtain a clearer picture of a patient’s condition through diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
While osteoarthritis is irreversible, treatments can still reduce cycling lower back pain. Patients can manage cycling lower back pain from osteoarthritis with over-the-counter medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and surgical intervention when necessary.
Cycling Lower Back Pain From Spondylolisthesis
When cycling lower back pain appears after a vertebra slips forward over the vertebrae below, doctors will diagnose patients with Spondylolisthesis. Not to be confused with a “slipped disc,” this condition frequently targets the lumbar spine. There are 3 different types of Spondylolisthesis:
- Congenital spondylolisthesis: Meaning “present at birth,” congenital spondylolisthesis results from abnormal bone formation, which places discs at a greater risk for slipping.
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis: This is the most common type of spondylolisthesis. This condition arises from normal age-related wear and tear on the body, which causes the cushion between the vertebral bones to diminish.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This type occurs as the result of spondylolysis, a condition that causes small stress factors in the vertebrae. These fractures may weaken bones so much that they eventually slip out of place.
Symptoms of lumbar spondylolisthesis may include a combination of soreness in the area of the slippage, tightness or stiffness of the muscles of the lower back, pain in the lower back, thighs, and buttocks, and sciatica. Spondylolisthesis typically appears in athletes – like weightlifters, football linemen, and gymnasts – who place immense stress on the lower region of the spine. As a result, athletes risk developing vertebral stress fractures on the right and left sides of the spine. The formation of vertebral stress fractures may cause instability and bones to shift out of place. The NJSS team can treat patients suffering from Spondylolisthesis with pain medications, heat and/or ice application, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections to decrease inflammation. In most cases, non-surgical treatment can successfully minimize a patient’s cycling lower back pain. But when a patient’s painful symptoms fail to improve, spine doctors may recommend surgical intervention.
Cycling Lower Back Pain From Disc Herniation
A herniated disc causes pain to manifest in the lower back that extend throughout the entire body. Spinal discs normally act as shock absorbers by providing cushion and spacing between the vertebral bodies. But over time, these discs can degenerate, become injured and bulge out (herniate). As a result, the viscous material from the interior of the disc will ooze into the spinal canal, thereby producing intense pain from irritating sensitive nerves on one side of the body. Signs and symptoms of herniated discs depend on the location in the spine and whether the disc presses against a nerve. The most prevalent symptoms a patient will experience include pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf, numbness or tingling from the affected nerves, muscle weakness, issues with stability and difficulty lifting and holding items.
Let NJSS Help Eliminate Your Cycling Lower Back Pain
Regardless of the source, the team at New Jersey Spine Specialists can treat a patient’s back and neck with precision and compassion. Patients living in the nearby area can receive quality care without visiting our office. By utilizing telemedicine technologies, patients with back pain can access NJSS experts using a smartphone, desktop, laptop, or tablet. New Jersey Spine Specialist’s doctors hold a successful history in treating countless patients from all over New Jersey for a broad array of back-related issues, including cycling lower back pain. With convenient locations at Summit’s Overlook Hospital and Montclair’s Mountainside Hospital, New Jersey Spine Specialist’s board-certified spine surgeons provide patients with treatment tailored to individual needs. If you begin to feel cycling lower back pain, don’t let your quality of life dwindle any longer. Come in for a consultation with New Jersey’s leading spine doctors, and learn about what minimally invasive treatment options may be best for you. To find out more about NJSS can help mitigate neck and back pain, give us a call at (908) 738-1679.
“I am pain free, walking and well on my way to recovery thanks to the help of New Jersey Spine Specialists” —Robert K
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