Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common condition affecting people of all ages and can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes movement difficult. It can result from various factors, including lifestyle habits, injuries, and medical conditions.

Common Symptoms

  • Dull, aching pain: Often persistent and located in the lower back.
  • Sharp or stabbing pain: May occur with movement or specific activities.
  • Radiating pain: Pain that spreads from the lower back to the buttocks, thighs, or even the feet (sciatica).
  • Stiffness: Reduced flexibility and difficulty in moving the back.
  • Muscle spasms: Sudden, involuntary contractions of the back muscles.
  • Numbness or tingling: In the lower back, buttocks, or legs.
  • Weakness: In the legs, affecting mobility and stability.


  • Muscle or ligament strain: Overuse, heavy lifting, or sudden awkward movements.
  • Herniated or bulging discs: Discs that protrude and press on nerves.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Age-related wear and tear on the spinal discs.
  • Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal that compresses the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis: A vertebra slips out of place.
  • Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints in the spine.
  • Osteoporosis: Weakened bones prone to fractures.
  • Infections: Rare, but can occur in the spine or discs.
  • Tumors: Rare, but can develop in the spine.


  • Medical history and physical examination: Assessing symptoms, lifestyle, and conducting a neurological exam.
  • Imaging tests:
    • X-rays: To detect bone abnormalities, fractures, and alignment issues.
    • MRI: To visualize soft tissues, including discs, muscles, and nerves.
    • CT scan: Provides detailed cross-sectional images of the spine.
    • Bone scan: To detect infections, fractures, or tumors.
    • Electromyography (EMG): To assess nerve function and identify nerve compression.


  • Proper lifting techniques: To avoid injury.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking.
  • Ergonomics: Using supportive furniture and practicing good posture.
  • Avoiding repetitive stress: Reducing activities that strain the spine.


  • Medications:
    • NSAIDs: To reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter or prescription.
    • Muscle relaxants: To relieve muscle spasms.
    • Corticosteroids: Oral or injected to reduce inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises to strengthen the back and core muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.
  • Heat and cold therapy: Applying heat to relax muscles and cold to reduce inflammation.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Weight management, smoking cessation, and ergonomic adjustments.
  • Alternative therapies: Chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, and yoga.


  • Discectomy: Removal of part or all of a herniated disc.
  • Laminectomy: Removal of part of the vertebra to relieve pressure on the nerves.
  • Spinal fusion: Fusing two or more vertebrae together to stabilize the spine.
  • Artificial disc replacement: Replacing a damaged disc with an artificial one.
  • Decompression surgery: Relieving pressure on the spinal cord or nerves due to spinal stenosis.

Complications & Prognosis


  • Chronic pain: Persistent pain despite treatment.
  • Nerve damage: Ongoing numbness, tingling, or weakness.
  • Reduced mobility: Ongoing stiffness and loss of flexibility.
  • Cauda equina syndrome: Severe complication involving loss of bladder or bowel control, requiring emergency treatment.


  • Variable: Depending on the cause and severity, many cases of lower back pain improve with conservative treatments within a few weeks.
  • Surgery: Often successful in relieving symptoms when conservative treatments fail.


What is the most common cause of lower back pain?
Muscle or ligament strain due to improper lifting, overuse, or sudden movements is a common cause.

Can lower back pain be prevented?
Yes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, using proper lifting techniques, and practicing good posture can help prevent lower back pain.

When should I see a doctor for lower back pain?
If the pain persists for more than a few weeks, is severe, or is accompanied by symptoms like numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control, seek medical attention.

What is the best treatment for lower back pain?
Treatment varies depending on the cause, but a combination of medications, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies often helps manage pain.

How long does it take to recover from lower back pain?
Recovery time varies, but many people improve within a few weeks with conservative treatments. Chronic cases may require ongoing management.

Are there exercises that can help with lower back pain?
Yes, exercises that strengthen the back and core muscles, improve flexibility, and promote proper posture can help alleviate and prevent lower back pain. A physical therapist can provide a tailored exercise program.

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