Low back pain is synonymous with “lumbalgia” and “lumbago”. It refers to the pain that occurs in the lower back, from where the ribs end to the buttocks.
It is one of the most frequent reasons for consulting a doctor and is one of the most frequent causes of incapacity for work. Approximately 80% of the population will suffer low back pain at some time in their lives.
Today we know that low back pain may be due to many different causes. It is essential to reach a correct diagnosis of the cause of the pain in order to be successful in the treatment.
The diagnosis should be made on the basis of a specialized medical visit, after which the necessary complementary explorations will be requested, such as X-rays, Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Gammagraphy, Ultrasound, Thermography, Bone Densitometry, Electromyogram, Blood and urine analysis, and other tests.
When low back pain radiates to the lower extremities, it is popularly known as “sciatica”.
This widely used term, however, is not accurate, since what is usually affected is not the sciatic nerve, but the nerve roots that emerge on both sides of the lumbar and sacral spine. There may also be pain radiating to the lower extremities, without the nerve root being affected, since other structures of the spine, when inflamed, may also radiate down the legs. It is important to differentiate which anatomical structure is involved in the pain.