Lower Back Pain

What Causes Low Back Pain?

Low back pain can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose low back pain, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "low back pain" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • West Nile Virus
  • Lack Of Exercise
  • Pyelonephritis
  • Fibroids
  • Copper Deficiency
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Ovarian Cancer

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
blood transfusions
very low HDL cholesterol level
regularly feeling unusually cold
occasional unexplained fevers
recent transplant surgery
weak urine stream
recent loss of sense of touch
slight stiff neck
regular rashes
heaviness of the legs
incoherent speech
inability to walk
... and more than 50 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of low back pain:
Cause Probability Status
Pyelonephritis 97% Confirm
Fibroids 29% Unlikely
West Nile Virus 12% Unlikely
Guillain-Barre Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Copper Deficiency 0% Ruled out
Ankylosing Spondylitis 0% Ruled out
Ovarian Cancer 0% Ruled out
Lack Of Exercise 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate spinal problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you suffer from lower back pain that is not caused by a known injury?
Possible responses:
→ No / rarely / I was injured / don't know
→ Past minor problem, now resolved
→ Past major problem, now resolved
→ Yes, there is some pain
→ Yes, serious / a lot of pain
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate history of low back pain, lower back pain or much lower back pain, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Ankylosing Spondylitis

The inflammation occurring in cases of ankylosing spondylitis usually starts around the sacroiliac joints i.e. the areas where the lower spine is joined to the pelvis.  The pain is worse during periods of rest or inactivity, often awakening patients in the middle of the night.  Symptoms typically lessen with movement and exercise.  Over a period of time, pain and stiffness may progress into the upper spine and even into the chest and neck.

Copper Deficiency

A copper deficiency has been associated with weakening of connective tissue, which in turn can contribute to the development of slipped or herniated discs.

Fibroids

Mural fibroids (located in the uterine wall) and subserous fibroids (protrude outside the uterine wall) may reach a large size before causing symptoms.  These symptoms may include pressure on the bladder with difficulty voiding or urinary frequency and urgency, pressure on the rectum with constipation, lower back pain and abdominal pain, as well as heavy bleeding.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Pain in the lower back, buttocks or thighs is common, and is often the earliest symptom.

Osteoporosis - Osteopenia

Back pain is an early sign of bone loss.

Problems Associated With Lack Of Exercise

Exercise that strengthens the abdominal musculature sometimes helps reduce low back pain.  Further, strenuous exercise involving significant movement of the lower back has resulted in pain reduction/elimination.

Pyelonephritis

The symptoms of kidney infection can include back pain, side pain and loin pain.

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