Lower back pain is considered chronic once it lasts for a long period (e.g. 3 months or more), exceeding the body’s natural ability to heal.
There are several mainly age-related causes:
This arthritis-like condition is caused by the natural degeneration of a facet joint in the spinal bones, allowing conjoining vertebrae to rub against each other. This can occur when cartilage in the joints wears down.
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
The cartilage in the sacroiliac joint between the iliac bones and the sacrum can wear down with age, causing pain when the bones rub together. The pain can start in the lower back and buttocks and radiate outward.
This occurs when the nucleus material of a lumbar disc is displaced through the outer ring and irritates the nearby nerve root, resulting in inflammation and pain.
When the spaces in the spine canal narrow from wear and tear, it can put pressure on the nerves in the spine, causing pain, tingling or numbness in the lower back.
- Degenerative disc disease
Despite its name, degenerative disc disease is not a disease. It is a condition that occurs naturally with age-related wear and tear (degeneration) of the discs in the spine.
When a vertebra shifts out of place and slips over an adjacent vertebra, it will cause instability in the spine and compression of the nerves. Spondylolisthesis can occur from age and from strenuous sports.
Sometimes called swayback, hyperlordosis occurs when the spine curves excessively inward at the lower back. It can occur when a vertebra slips forward or becomes fragile, leading to a breakdown of the joints and pain.
Fractures or weaknesses in the vertebra can cause the spine to compress, leading to persistent pain. This can occur from trauma, osteoporosis or cancer.
Acute fractures or dislocations of the spine after a trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall, can lead to changes in posture and lingering pain.