Lower back pain is the most common type of spine-related pain people experience. It’s also the leading cause of worldwide disability. One of the reasons lower back injuries occur so often is because of the many ways the spine can be affected by bending or related twisting motions. Such actions shift the stress on the spine in a way that increases the odds of experiencing some type of discomfort. Below you’ll find five specific types of lower back injuries that are often related to bending.
When soft tissues that support the lumbar (lower) spine are stretched beyond their normal range of motion, a strain occurs. If a strain occurs when bending over, an inflammatory process may be triggered. Should this happen, you may have muscle spasms in the affected area. Lower back strains are usually treatable with:
• Rest for a brief time
• Activity modifications
• Anti-inflammatory medications
• Strength training after soft tissues have healed to reduce the risk of recurrence
The act of bending over places a lot of stress on the discs in the lower back area. If you regularly make bending motions, your spine’s discs may eventually become herniated, or they could bulge enough to irritate nearby nerves. If you have disc-related problems, you may notice localized pain or numbness and tingling sensations coupled with muscle weakness that extends to your hips, thighs, or legs. Treatment usually involves:
• An initial period of rest followed by physical therapy
• Anti-inflammatory drugs
• Non-surgical decompression techniques
• Surgery if conservative treatments aren’t effective
There are many potential sources of nerve compression within the lower back area. One particular nerve that could be affected because of bending movements is the one that extends downward from the lower back—the sciatic nerve. The resulting nerve-related discomfort could be felt in the hips, buttocks, thighs, or down into one leg. Most people with sciatica or similar sources of nerve compression respond well to a combination of medication and physical therapy. However, to relieve nerve pressure, it may be necessary to have a surgical procedure such as a lumbar foraminotomy. Los Angeles patients who undergo this procedure are typically able to return home the day of surgery.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that may affect the spine and related structures in the pelvis and hips. If you have this condition, you may notice pain, stiffness, and other forms of discomfort when bending over. Anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes helpful. Physical therapy may be recommended as well if it’s determined that ankylosing spondylitis is the source of your discomfort.
Bending could put enough stress on the lower spine to cause spinal vertebrae to develop cracks, or stress factors, which is a condition referred to as spondylolysis that tends to be affected by increased activity. If you have a stable spinal fracture, it may heal with:
• Over-the-counter pain meds
• Rest followed by therapeutic exercises
• The use of a back brace or lumbar support belt if you regularly bend for work or while exercising to increase the stability of your lower back area
Reduce your risk of experiencing any of these lower back injuries that could occur when bending over by practicing proper lifting techniques. Bend at your knees (not at your waist or lower back), tighten your stomach muscles as you lift, and hold the object close to your body. Also, avoid twisting, and be just as cautious when putting an object down. Lastly, see your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon if you’re noticing lingering lower back pain.
If you’re experiencing long-lasting or severe pain in your lower back, it’s best to see a spine specialist as soon as possible so your issue can be diagnosed and you can start a treatment plan that gets you back to a pain-free life. Reach out to the pioneering spinal health specialists at The Spine Institute today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.