Lower Back Pain Won’t Go Away: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

lower back pain won't go away - physical therapists

Did you know that lower back pain is one of the most common ailments affecting Americans today? According to a study by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, approximately 75-85% of Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Whether it’s from lifting heavy objects, poor posture, or just the wear and tear of everyday life, many find that their lower back pain won’t go away, leading to ongoing discomfort and frustration.

Addressing persistent and severe back pain is crucial not only for alleviating discomfort but also for preventing it from becoming a chronic condition that interferes with daily activities and overall quality of life. In this blog post, we will explore the common causes, effective treatments, and preventive measures to help you manage and ideally eradicate lower back pain won’t go away.

Understanding Lower Back Pain Won’t Go Away

Lower back pain can manifest in numerous ways, affecting the muscles, nerves, and spinal bones of the lumbar region. This pain can be broadly classified into two main categories: mechanical and non-mechanical pain.

Mechanical pain is often associated with movement or excessive physical stress on spinal structures such as the facet joints and discs, while non-mechanical pain can be due to underlying medical conditions such as infections or tumors.

Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain

One important distinction to make is between acute and chronic lower back pain. Acute pain is typically sudden, sharp pain in the lower back that lasts for a few days to a few weeks. This type of pain is usually the result of a specific injury or strain. On the other hand, chronic lower back pain persists for 12 weeks or longer, even after the initial injury or underlying cause has been treated.

Anatomy of the Lower Back

Understanding the lumbar spine anatomy helps us grasp why this area is so susceptible to pain and injury.

Structure of the Spine

The lumbar spine is composed of five vertebrae, labeled L1 to L5, which are larger and stronger than those in the cervical or thoracic regions. These vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers. The movement and flexibility of our spine largely depend on these discs, and any injury or degeneration can lead to significant pain.

Muscles and Ligaments Involved

Supporting the spine is a complex network of muscles and ligaments. The core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and multifidus muscles, play a vital role in stabilizing the back. Additionally, ligaments such as the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments provide further support and limit excessive movement, which could otherwise lead to injury. Studies highlight the importance of strengthening these muscles through targeted exercises to prevent lower back pain.

Common Causes of Persistent Lower Back Pain

Knowing the specific factors behind your discomfort can be a crucial first step in finding relief.

Mechanical Causes

Most lower back pain stems from mechanical issues related to the spine’s structure and movement.

Muscle Strains and Sprains

Muscle strains and sprains are some of the most common causes of lower back pain. This often results from lifting heavy objects improperly, sudden movements, or even poor posture over time. Strengthening exercises targeting the core can significantly help in reducing the risk of such injuries.

Herniated Discs

A herniated disc occurs when the inner gel-like core of a spinal disc pushes through its outer layer, irritating nearby nerves. This condition can lead to sharp pain, numbness, and even weakness in the lower body. Surgery may be required in severe cases, but most people find relief through physical therapy and medication.

Non-Mechanical Causes

While less common, non-mechanical causes can also be significant contributors to persistent lower back pain.


Infections such as osteomyelitis or discitis can lead to severe chronic pain. These are often accompanied by fever and unexplained weight loss. Research found that vertebral osteomyelitis affects 26,170 to 65,4000 people annually and requires immediate medical attention.

Inflammatory Conditions (e.g., Arthritis)

Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can also be a culprit. Rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are examples where the immune system attacks the spine’s joints, causing persistent pain. The Journal of Clinical Medicine suggests that around 1.3 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, many of whom experience significant lower back discomfort. Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy can help manage these conditions.

Lifestyle and Occupational Factors

Your lifestyle and work environment play a huge role in the health of your lower back.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weak abdominal muscles and increased lower back pain. Studies in the Health Promotion Perspectives journal show that adults who sit for more than 7 hours a day have an increased risk of developing lower back issues. Incorporating regular physical activity can mitigate these risks of lower back pain due to prolonged sitting.

Poor Posture

Poor posture, whether sitting, standing, or lifting, puts additional strain on the lower back. Maintaining good posture is vital in alleviating and preventing lower back pain. Ergonomic adjustments to your workspace and daily posture correction exercises can contribute significantly to spinal health.

Diagnosing Lower Back Pain

lower back pain won't go away - car accident

Knowing the root cause can significantly improve the effectiveness of the treatment.

Medical History and Physical Examination

The journey to diagnosing lower back pain typically begins with a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, their onset, and what activities aggravate or alleviate the pain. This detailed history helps rule out underlying conditions and pinpoints potential causes.

Key Questions Doctors Ask

During the medical history, your doctor will often ask key questions to gather essential information. Examples include:

Physical Tests and What They Reveal

The physical examination usually involves assessing your range of motion, reflexes, and muscle strength. Your doctor may perform specific tests like the straight leg raise, which evaluates nerve root irritation. Physical tests such as these are highly effective in narrowing down the probable cause of back pain.

Diagnostic Imaging

When a detailed history and physical exam aren’t enough to establish a diagnosis, imaging tests can be immensely helpful. These tests provide a close-up view of the structures in your lower back.


X-rays are often the first imaging test ordered, primarily because they are quick and cost-effective. They provide a clear image of your bones, helping doctors identify fractures, bone spurs, or degenerative changes. However, clinical guidelines note that routine X-rays may not be necessary for acute lower back pain unless serious underlying conditions are suspected.

MRI and CT Scans

When more detail is needed, MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans come into play. MRIs are particularly good at showing soft tissue, including muscles, spinal nerves, and discs. MRIs have a higher sensitivity to detecting certain situations such as herniated discs. Similarly, CT scans provide fine details of your bones and can outline complex fractures that X-rays might miss.

Treatment Options for Persistent Lower Back Pain

Dealing with persistent lower back pain can be incredibly frustrating, but the good news is there are several effective treatment options available.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments are the first line of defense against lower back pain. These include:


Medications can play a crucial role in managing pain by targeting inflammation and pain. Pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are commonly recommended for their effectiveness in reducing pain and inflammation. For more severe pain, doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants or opioids, although these come with a risk of dependency and should be used cautiously.

Working With A Physical Therapist

Physical therapy services involves a range of exercises designed to strengthen the tight muscles supporting your spine, improve your flexibility and promote a healthy weight. A study found that tailored physical therapy programs significantly reduced lower back pain and improved function. Therapists may use techniques like manual therapy, electrical stimulation, and posture education to help with back pain relief and rehabilitation.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on diagnosing and treating mechanical disorders of the spine through manual adjustments and manipulations. A study published in the Healthcare journal found that chiropractic care can be as effective as other standard treatments for lower back pain, particularly in the first six weeks of discomfort.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Between non-surgical treatments and surgery, there is a middle ground of minimally invasive procedures that can provide significant pain relief. These include:

Epidural Steroid Injections

During an epidural steroid injection, a combination of steroids and local anesthetic are injected into the epidural space surrounding your spinal cord. This treatment aims to reduce inflammation and swelling around irritated nerves, providing pain relief.

ReActiv8: Revolutionary Neurostimulation Therapy

ReActiv8 is an innovative therapy designed to provide relief from chronic low back pain by directly stimulating the nerves of the muscles that stabilize your lumbar spine. Unlike other treatments that might offer temporary relief, ReActiv8 aims to restore the proper functioning of these crucial muscles, potentially breaking the cycle of pain, degeneration, and loss of function. To learn more about how ReActiv8 can help you regain control over your pain, explore our detailed guide and discover if this revolutionary therapy is right for you.

Learn More About ReActiv8® For Chronic Lower Back Pain Relief Today!

Surgical Options

Surgical options done by a spine specialist offer a permanent solution for certain conditions causing lower back pain. These include:

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are joined together, limiting movement between them and potentially providing pain relief. This procedure is typically recommended when there is significant disc degeneration, instability, fracture, or scoliosis.

Laminectomy and Discectomy

A laminectomy involves removing the lamina (the back portion of your vertebra) to relieve pain and pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. A discectomy is a procedure in which part or all of a damaged disc is removed to alleviate nerve compression.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Lower back pain can be more than just a minor inconvenience, but at what point should it prompt a visit to your doctor?

Warning Signs of Serious Conditions

While lower back pain is often benign and manageable with rest and over-the-counter treatments, certain symptoms can indicate more serious conditions. If you’re experiencing extreme pain that doesn’t improve with rest, pain that extends down your legs, or if you’re having difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels, these could be signs of something more critical, such as a herniated disk or spinal cord compression.

Preparing for Doctor’s Visits

Preparation can make your doctor’s visit more productive. Bring a list of your current medications, past medical history, and any relevant imaging or test results. Keep a pain diary documenting the frequency, duration, and severity of your pain, as well as any treatments you’ve tried and their effects. This comprehensive information helps your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.

How to Communicate Effectively with Healthcare Providers

Clear and effective communication with your healthcare provider is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Be prepared to describe your symptoms in detail, including their onset, duration, intensity, and any factors that aggravate or alleviate them. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or further explanations if you don’t understand something.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

When you visit your doctor, asking the right questions can provide you with crucial information and contribute to your treatment plan. Consider asking about the potential causes of your pain, the available treatment options and their side effects, and lifestyle changes that may help manage the pain. Knowing the prognosis, possible complications, and the steps you can take to prevent future episodes of lower back pain can empower you to manage your condition effectively. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional resources or referrals if you need further assistance.

Final Thoughts on Lower Back Pain That Won’t Go Away

Dealing with persistent lower back pain can be exhausting and frustrating, but understanding your options can make a world of difference. From simple exercises and lifestyle changes to advanced treatments like ReActiv8, there’s a path to find relief and reclaim your life. Remember, back pain doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your story. If traditional treatments haven’t worked for you, it might be time to explore new solutions that could provide the relief you desperately need.

Discover more about ReActiv8 today and see if this ground-breaking therapy could be the answer you’ve been searching for!

Learn More About ReActiv8® For Chronic Lower Back Pain Relief Today!

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