Cycle through the slides below to familiarize yourself with several common conditions associated with the lower back. The conditions described below may not be treated by the specific product listed on this page. Please view the above Medical Applications Chart to determine what conditions this page's associated product treats.
Lumbar Strain & Sprain
This is one of the most common diagnoses made in medicine. It usually occurs in forward bending with the spine flexed and often rotated. Tearing of the ligaments, muscles or joint capsules may occur, with subsequent inflammation. The pain is felt across the lumbosacral and sacroiliac areas. One side is usually more sensitive than the other, and the pain may radiate down the sciatic nerve into the thigh and occasionally into the calf. Treatment is designed to reduce the inflammation and spasm. Initially anti-inflammatory agents, muscle relaxants, analgesics and bed rest are prescribed. The goal of orthotic treatment is to provide support for the lumbar spine, limit motion of the painful segments and increase intra-abdominal pressure, thereby reducing pressure on the discs.
The spinal discs provide the point of contact between the individual vertebrae of the spine, and also serve as an all-important shock absorber for the spinal column. Each disc is made up of a jelly-like center called the nucleus, which is surrounded by a very tough but somewhat elastic ring called the annulus. Degeneration of the disc occurs with aging along with the effects of repeated mechanical stress. This may lead to disruption of the nucleus and even some of the annulus. This causes herniation, or bulging, of the disc with potential painful pressure on the adjacent nerves. Most herniated discs occur in the lumbar spine. When needed, treatment includes medication, physical therapy, a back support and possibly surgery.
Sacral Strain & Sprain
The sacroiliac – or SI – joints are formed where the lower spine meets the hip joint on both the right and left sides. Very little natural movement occurs at the SI joints, but excessive stress and poor body mechanics can cause anything from mild discomfort to acute pain. Common symptoms may include aching in the lower back, buttocks or upper thigh; low back pain that gets worse with movement or standing and dissipates with rest; inability to move freely, and muscle spasms. Treatment includes prescription, O-T-C or injection medications, hot or cold packs, stretching exercises, physical therapy or a sacro support.
Sacroiliac Joint Arthritis
Sacroiliac joint arthritis – also known as sacroiliitis – is the inflammation of our or both of the sacroiliac joints. It is a common source of pain in the buttocks or thighs, but can be difficult to diagnose since many other conditions can cause pain in the same locations. Sacroiliitis can be caused by arthritis, trauma or injury, pregnancy (as hormones generated during pregnancy can relax muscles and ligaments of the pelvis), or infection. Primary means of treatment include physical therapy and exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines and occasionally a sacral support garment.
THE ANATOMY OF THE LOWER BACK
The lumbar region of the spine, more commonly known as the lower back, is situated between the thoracic region of the spine and the sacrum. View the illustration, in accompaniment with the list below, to explore the anatomy of the lumbar.
A. L1 Vertebra
B. L2 Vertebra
C. L3 Vertebra
D. L4 Vertebra
E. L5 Vertebra
G. Spinal Disc
H. Sacroiliac Joint