A Guide to Low Back Pain Back Health
A Guide to Low Back Pain

Back pain is the second most common cause of visits to the doctor behind respiratory infections. A staggering 60-80% of the population will have back pain in their lives – 70% claiming the pain stems from their low back.

Where is my low back pain coming from?
It is important to understand the anatomy of your back. The spine is broken up into 4 sections – cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Each section is made up of vertebrae, discs, joints, bone, nerves, canals, and muscles. Changes or conflicts in any of these parts can produce pain.

Low back pain occurs in the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is where the spine curves inward towards the abdomen. This region provides flexibility and movement to your trunk region while carrying all of the upper body’s weight.

What is causing my low back pain?
Degenerative changes are the #1 cause of low back pain. Degeneration is the natural wearing down effect that we experience as we grow older however this can begin at any age. Degenerative spine conditions that can prove to be problematic are spinal osteoarthritis, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, etc. Other causes of low back pain that are not degenerative are infections, ruptured or herniated discs, sciatica, etc.  A common symptom of low back pain sufferers is simultaneous radiating leg and/or glute pain. This is due to the lumbar nerves that connect to each leg.

How can I prevent back pain or prevent worsening of my current back pain?
There are several ways to prevent low back pain. These can also be helpful in reducing the chances of your low back pain worsening.

  1. Exercise – we suggest swimming or walking 45 minutes, 3-4 times per week.
  2. Quit smoking – smoking can reduce blood supply to the spine.
  3. Weight loss – by losing mass, your spine will have less weight to support.
  4. Step away from your desk every 30 minutes – sitting puts a lot of pressure on your low back.
  5. Core strengthening – we suggest planks, V-ups, rows, and other ab workouts that do not hurt your back.

Who can I contact for help?
If your low back pain has lasted for more than 4 weeks, you have sustained an injury, or if you are simply growing concerned with your pain, we urge you to call and schedule an appointment with an Iowa Ortho spine specialist.

Iowa Ortho’s spine surgeons, Dr. Schmitz and Dr. Harbach treat a wide-variety of neck and spine conditions. They are both board-certified and hold vast experience in their field. Through use of imaging, injections, physical therapy, and/or surgery, our specialists are here to help get you back to living your best life!