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A twinging pain in the low back is characteristically sudden and sharp. Low back pain is common in society and according to Medline Plus: It is estimated that 80 percent of Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime 1. Symptoms of back pain can manifest suddenly or gradually over time, depending on the cause of the pain. In “Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor,” Dr. Thomas Souza states that of the 80 percent of Americans who experience low back pain, only about 14 percent will have the pain for longer than two weeks 2. The symptoms that accompany back pain are described as dull aches, constant aches, burning pain, radiating pain and sharp pain. The cause of the pain will often depend on what structure has been injured.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Anatomy of the Low Back
The low back is comprised of seven lumbar vertebrae that are cushioned by lumbar discs and surrounded by strong ligaments and muscles. In addition to the discs, each vertebra is attached to the one above and below by spinal facet joints, according to “Anatomy of Human Movement.” The low back also has a large amount of nerve receptors in the surrounding tissues; large nerve fibers exit through small holes on each side of the seven vertebrae of the lumbar spine. Low back pan can be caused when any of these structures are injured, inflamed, or irritated.
5 Myths About Back Pain Debunked
The various structures of the low back can cause pain and can lead to a variety of symptoms. Sharp pain is common when the facet joints are injured. According to "Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor," facet syndrome is characterized by a patient with well-localized pain that happened suddenly from an improper movement of the low back 2. The facets that are the joints between the vertebrae allow movement of the bones when the spine flexes, extends and rotates. Facet pain can mimic pain caused from disc lesions, but facet pain usually does not have neurological deficits such as muscle weakness or decreased reflexes.
- The various structures of the low back can cause pain and can lead to a variety of symptoms.
- Sharp pain is common when the facet joints are injured.
Back Strain vs. Herniated Disc
Treatments for twinging low back pain and facet injuries include traditional medical care--medication, physical therapy, injections and other types of care like chiropractic adjustment of the spine. An examination by a professional is needed to identify the cause of the pain and direct the appropriate treatment.
Preventing the Pain
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, back pain can be prevented if appropriate lifestyle changes are followed 4. These interventions include practicing proper posture and avoiding improper posture like slouching or sitting for long periods of time at a computer desk. Exercise can strengthen muscles and keep the back stable and strong as well as help control body weight--another factor that can affect back pain. In addition to maintaining an ideal weight, improving posture and exercising, it is important to practice proper lifting techniques and avoid heavy lifting whenever possible.
- According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, back pain can be prevented if appropriate lifestyle changes are followed 4.
- In addition to maintaining an ideal weight, improving posture and exercising, it is important to practice proper lifting techniques and avoid heavy lifting whenever possible.
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- Medline Plus: Back Pain
- “Differential Diagnosis and Management for the Chiropractor Protocols and Algorithms Third Edition”; T.A. Souza; 2005
- "Anatomy and Human Movement Structure and Function"; N. Palastanga, D. Field, R. Soames: 2006
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Baykara RA, Bozgeyik Z, Akgul O, et al. Low back pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: clinical characteristics and impact of low back pain on functional ability and health related quality of life. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2013;26(4):367-74. doi:10.3233/BMR-130393
- Gillick JL, Wainwright, Das K. Rheumatoid arthritis and the cervical spine: A review on the role of surgery. Int J Rheumatol. 2015; 2015: 252456. doi:10.1155/2015/252456
- Kothe, R. Low back pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Z Rheumatol (2017) 76: 869. doi: 10.1007/s00393-017-0363-8
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. Updated August 13, 2019.
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Vertebral Compression Fractures.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis. Updated September 2016.
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.
- Cleveland Clinic. Back Health and Posture. Updated April 16, 2019.
Brady Williams is a third-generation chiropractor who has been writing and lecturing on topics in health, nutrition, chiropractic, sports medicine and wellness since 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Science in general science and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He also holds a Master of Science in sport science and rehabilitation from Logan University.