The spine provides our bodies with strength and stability. More importantly, the spine protects the spinal cord, nerve roots, and nearby internal organs. Most people will experience various degrees of back pain at one point or another. But dull lower back pain, as well as other painful symptoms, may point to a more serious condition. Understanding the precise cause of dull lower back pain can help board-certified spine doctors identify any underlying conditions or injuries that are responsible for mild or severe pain.
After finding the underlying conditions responsible for dull lower back pain, spine surgeons can begin advanced spinal care tailored to each patient’s individual needs. With a dedicated staff of nationally recognized spinal experts, the team at New Jersey Spine Specialists treats various conditions that cause dull lower back pain, helping patients across northern New Jersey reclaim a pain-free lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Osteoarthritis – or arthritis of the spine – is a degenerative disease that breaks down bone near weight-bearing joints and disc cartilage over time. 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. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. 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).
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is irreversible, but treatments can reduce pain and help patients move without experiencing crippling pain. Patients can manage their dull lower back pain from osteoarthritis with over-the-counter medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and surgical intervention when necessary.
Spinal Stenosis occurs when the sensitive spinal nerve roots become compressed. While the majority of affected patients are over the age of 50, degenerative changes can cause younger patients to develop this painful condition. These changes may include trauma, a congenital spinal deformity like scoliosis, or even a genetic disease affecting bone and muscle development. Spinal Stenosis symptoms tend to fluctuate between patients, ranging from mild and manageable pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities from pinched nerves, dull lower back pain, and a limited range of mobility. Since symptoms of spinal stenosis are so similar to symptoms of other spinal conditions, it can be difficult to properly diagnose this painful condition. But the NJSS team can deploy advanced imaging tests – like an MRI, CT, and X-rays – to identify the location of the narrowing spine. Spinal Stenosis can manifest as the result of other conditions such as wear and tear damage from osteoarthritis, complications from spinal injuries, and abnormal growths on the spinal cord and within vertebrae.
Board-certified spine experts classify spinal stenosis depending on its location within the spine. Cervical stenosis occurs in the upper regions near the neck while the more common Lumbar stenosis occurs in the lower regions of the spine. Treatment for spinal stenosis may include pain relievers such as ibuprofen, decompression surgery, laminectomy, and physical therapy. Most patients with spinal stenosis become less active to reduce pain. Unfortunately, this can lead to muscle weakness, resulting in more pain. Luckily, a certified physical therapist can teach patients effective exercises to build strength and endurance, maintain the spine’s stability and flexibility, and improve balance.
Sprains and strains are the leading causes of acute back pain, which can range from mild to severe. A sprain occurs when a patient overstretches or tears a fragile ligament while a strain refers to torn tendons or muscles. The most common causes for sprains and strains include lifting heavy objects or improper lifting techniques, twisting or jerking the body in awkward motions, falling, and overstretching or failing to properly warm-up before exercising.
Patients may experience a combination of several symptoms, which include aching and stiffness in the lower back, a restricted range of motion, difficulty standing or sitting upright, and pain that extends into the buttocks.
Treating dull lower back pain from sprains and strains depends on the cause and severity of a patient’s symptoms. Patients can treat mild sprains and strains with rest, ice packs, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. For more severe sprains and strains, board-certified spine specialists can treat a patient’s dull lower back pain by prescribing muscle relaxants and stronger pain relievers, physical therapy and even surgical intervention after exhausting all conservative approaches.
Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic condition that disturbs muscles and the connective tissue, causing dull lower back pain and inflammation. Myofascial pain syndrome can target a muscle group or even a single muscle.
Sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse. These sensitive areas are called trigger points. A trigger point in a muscle can cause strain and pain throughout the muscle. Common symptoms include a tender knot in a muscle, difficulty sleeping due to pain, persistent pain that worsens over time, tingling sensations, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
While it isn’t clear what causes Myofascial pain syndrome, spine experts have found possible culprits such as poor posture, stress, repetitive work activities, and overuse of muscles. Once a diagnosis of Myofascial Pain Syndrome has been confirmed, treatment usually includes medications, trigger point injections, and physical therapy.
A herniated disc develops when a disc protrusion ruptures or herniates through the fragile intervertebral disc wall. As a result, the viscous material from the interior of the disc can spill into the spinal canal, generating mild to severe pain from impingement on sensitive nerves. Disc herniation usually originates from gradual, age-related wear and tear referred to as disc degeneration. Common symptoms of herniated discs depend on the location in the spine and if the disc is pressing on a nerve. The most common symptoms a patient will experience include pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf, numbness or tingling from the affected nerves, and muscle weakness affecting stability and the ability to lift or hold items.
The solution to a patient’s dull lower back pain depends on the source of the pain, as well as the injury a patient sustained. The first step on the road to recovery involves consulting with a board-certified doctor for effective treatment approaches. Depending on the severity of a patient’s dull lower back pain, spine doctors may recommend physical activity restrictions, lifestyle changes, medication, and physical therapy. For more intense pain, a board-certified spine expert may suggest surgical intervention after exhausting all non-invasive methods.
Regardless of the source, the team at New Jersey Spine Specialists can treat a patient’s dull lower back pain with the utmost precision and compassion. 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 dull 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 notice dull 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, give us a call at (908) 608-9619.
“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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