Low back problems can be very painful but in many cases although the pain can make movement and everyday life difficult the causes are not so often serious. With any case of low back pain however it is important to exclude some of these more serious causes. The signs for these serious conditions are called red flags by doctors and these are ;
These signs can mean that the cause of your symptoms are a full disc prolapse where the disc material is pressing on a nerve, an infection of the spine, the possibility of a tumour or space occupying lesion or more complex multi system illnesses.
If none of these are the case then there can be a variety of other things happening to provoke the symptoms. These may include mechanical problems with the muscles, joints and nerves. As we get older much as we get wrinkles on the outside our spines start to change and sometimes these changes make us a little more vulnerable to low back pain. When we have these kinds of problems for a while our brain which tells us how important the signals from these areas is can become sensitised. This means that it starts to be on the look out for pain signals and so increases the alarm signals it gets back which can mean more pain though at the same time no more damage is necessarily going on. In this environment lots of things can influence how sensitive our central nervous system is. These can include high levels of stress, poor diet, poor movements which stress the particular mechanical issue with the spine, your level of threat from the pain (i.e. if the pain is stopping you from working, or threatens serious relationships then this creates a much bigger potential alarm signal), can all add to the problem.