Kraus Back and Neck Institute in Houston, TX spinehealth.com

Relief from Lower Back and Neck Pain

 
surgery optionsavoid surgery
      At the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI), we specialize
                 in non-surgical as well as surgical treatments
                                of Back and Neck  Pain
     Conservative to Surgical Options: MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SUGERY 
              
 "Applying Science to the Art of Medicine"                                                  
                              .....................................................................
  
                       
                 Dr. Kraus is available for Neurosurgery consultation (surgical and non-surgical) in Houston.
                      Offices:  1) West Houston Medical Center
                                    2) Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital
                                    3) Katy
           FILM REVIEW:  send an e mail                                       
                                                         
      To arrange  an appointment, call 281-870-9292,  visit  neurosurgerypa.com
or   send an e mail
              For national and international patients, we can help with  travel arrangements
                                
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                                         top doctors houston texas 2007 top docs united states neurosurgery spine   top doctors houston texas 2008 top docs united states neurosurgery spine  top doctors houston texas 2009 top docs united states neurosurgery spine   best doctors in america, united states neurosurgery spine
                                            Dr. Kraus is honored to be listed in
                                            "Best Doctors in America" (2001-2008) and
                                             "Top Doctors of Houston, Texas" (2007, 2008, 2009)     

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low back pain ache houston texas united states
Low Back Pain, can be very debilitating.  The effects of Low Back Pain in the USA are staggering!!
    
 
   

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   last updated
  June 19, 2009

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Causes of Low Back Pain ("back attack")

 

Risk Factors

  • increasing age: up to age 60, male and female risk is about the same, but after that women are at a greater risk, due to osteoporosis.

  • size and shape of spinal canal

  • smoking increases chances of low back pain.
     
  • extended driving, due to low back strain
     
  • stress and other psychological factors
     
  • strenuous physical labor
     

Causes

        Low back pain and lower extremity pain often get lumped into one category, but the causes, and therefore the treatments, can be quite different.  Lower extremity pain, when it radiates from the low back, is usually the result of pressure on a nerve.  The pain is often in the distribution which the nerve supplies.  Low back pain, on the other hand, is often related to the mechanics of the spine.  Muscle strain, arthritis, trauma, osteoporosis, and fracture are often causes.  Often, disease processes which cause lower extremity pain can also cause low back pain, and vice versa.  Psychological and emotional factors can play a role as well.  When one has a tough day, their back might hurt, but later that day, while having fun with friends, the same person can completely forget about the pain.  Low back pain can also be multifactorial, involving several causes.  Here we will outline some of the general categories into which low back and lower extremity pain are often classified.

  • sprained/strained ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
        ligaments connect bone to bone.  tendons connect muscle to bone.  All of these elements can become bruised as a result of sports injuries or heavy lifting.  Although these injuries are usually self limited, and heal with time, repeated trauma can cause chronic pain.
     
  • degenerative disc disease
        after we turn 20, each of us suffers a slow degeneration of the discs of the spine.  Normally, the disk is a shock absorber situated between two vertebral bodies.  It consists of a soft jelly in the center, called the nucleus pulposis, and it is held together by a firm band called the annulus fibrosis.  When the disc dries up, it shrinks, and can result in mechanical pain.  In addition, as the disc height collapses, the exiting nerves can become compressed, leading to lower extremity pain.  Generally, this condition poses no danger, but can be very annoying to patients.
     
  • herniated discs
        the nomenclature (naming system) is very confusing.  Herniated discs are often referred to as slipped, bulging, ruptured, and retropulsed.  No wonder it is confusing to patients.  But regardless of what we call it, let's evaluate the concept of a herniated disc.  When the jelly like nucleus pulposis ruptures through the annulus fibrosis, the "herniated" portion can press on a nerve, causing pain and weakness.  The nerve can get "pinched" resulting in sciatica, a radiating pain to the lower extremit.  Over 90% of herniated discs occur in the lowest two levels of the lumbar spine, between L4/L5 and L5/S1. 
     
  • spinal stenosis
        this condition refers to "pinching" of the nerves within the spinal canal.  The spinal cord generally ends at the L1/L2 level, which is located at the top of the lumbar spine.  The spinal nerves then pass lower, within the spinal canal.  These nerves supply the movement and sensation in the lower extremities, as well as providing function of bowel, bladder and sexual activities.  When these nerves are pinched in the central canal, pain is caused, radiating down to the lower extremities.  The pain is generally worse when standing or walking, and is improved by sitting.  This is because the narrowing is often caused by a combination of facet joint hypertrophy, disk bulging, and thickening of the ligamentum flavum.  When standing, the thickened ligament can "buckle," cuasing pressure on the nerves, but when bending over or sitting, the ligament is stretched, resulting in decompression of the nerves.
     
  • spondylolisthesis
        this fancy name simply means one vertebral body slipping forward on another.  It generally results from a "break" in the bone holding one vertebral body to another (technically known as the pars interarticularic), but can also result from degenerative changes in the joints holding the bones together.  This condition can cause low back pain, and can also cause lower extremity pain when the exiting nerves are pinched by the slipped vertebrae.
       
  • emotional stress
        emotional stress can have a significant effect on low back pain.  This may be one of the most common causes.  One may often experience back pain, changes in sleep, loss of appetitite, and fatigue.   When under substantial stress, ones posture often changes, shifting their center of gravity, making the back more prone to injury.  In addition, when under emotional stress or when depressed, people tend to take poor  care of themselves,  resulting in deconditioning and weaker muscles.
     
  • vertebral body fractures
        fractures, which are usually quite painful, can occur for a variety of reasons.  First, and most obviously, trauma.  Certainly, injuries such as motor vehicle accidents or falls can cause fractures.  Osteoporosis, which is weakening of the bones due to loss of calcium, can predispose the bones to fracture.  If the bones are weak, then it doesn't take much stress to fracture them.  Cancer can also weaken the bones.  Some types of tumors will actually eat away at the bone, causing mild or severe degrees of weakness.
     
  • osteoporosis
        this disease is a very common cause of bone fractures.  Roughly 28 million people in the United States are affected, and women are significantly affected.  50 percent of women and 13 percent of men will suffer from osteoporotic fractures.  When bone is weak, it doesn't take much to cause it to fracture.  Events of minor trauma, even picking up a heavy object the wrong way, may cause fractures of weak bone.
     
  • sacroiliac joint
         the sacroiliac joint is composed of the articular surfaces at the junction of the sacrum and iliac bones.  This joint is susceptible to the development of arthritis from a variety of conditions, including strain from trauma or misuse, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.  As the sacroiliac joint ages, it also narrows, making intra-articular injections more difficult. 


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