Why Do I Have Severe Lower Back Pain in my 30s?
You are just in your 30s, but your severe lower back pain makes you feel as if your spine has aged over 60. Your day begins with an ‘Ugh, my poor aching back,’ as you twist and turn in your bed, and reach for that annoying alarm clock. It also ends with a ‘Jesus Christ’ as your spine cracks at the end of the day and reminds you how much you hate your gruelling 9-hour desk job.
If this is you, you need to read further and learn about why you might be suffering from severe lower back pain all the time.
What is Severe Lower Back Pain?
The severity of any symptom is defined by its ability to cause considerable hindrances in daily life. Severe lower back pain that exists for more than three months (12 weeks) is chronic in nature and needs urgent diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Typically, chronic back pain is a manifestation of a pre-existing disease that presented with acute back pain initially and resolved almost spontaneously with immediate care or medications. Chronic back pain can result from a number of triggering factors ranging from poor body posture and stress to degenerative diseases and sports’ injuries. But, most commonly, in younger adults ranging from 20 to 30 years of age, chronic back pain might be a leading symptom of injury due to major athletic events.
According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O), lower back pain is one of the leading disabilities in Europe and affected around 500,000 to 700,000 people in their 30s in 2013. In America, lower back pain affects nearly 80% of its entire population at least once in a lifetime which can be either acute or chronic in nature. Around two-thirds of people suffer from lower back pain in the UK; what’s worse is that they are all young adults from 18 to 34 years of age!
Symptoms of Lower Back Pain
The worst part about lower back pain is that it is universally common which is why the chances of you experiencing it at least once in your lifetime is considerably higher. We think it is better to know about the symptoms of lower back pain so that you can assess your condition immediately.
The lower back or the ‘lumbar region’ extends from the area beneath the chest or rib cage (thoracic region) to the pelvis (sacrum). Lower back pain might be stabbing and sharp or dull and throbbing in nature, but quite intense. Lower back pain comes and goes, and thus, is the reason why most people do not consider medical consultations or home-bound care in the first place.
You might require urgent medical care if your lower back pain is either prolonged for more than three days or includes other symptoms such as loss of bowel and bladder control. But, we believe the worst part about lower back pain is to ignore it and leave it undiagnosed for it to turn chronic and result in missed workdays. In the United Kingdom, around 100 million workdays are lost every year due to lower back pain whereas, in the States, the same toll rises up to 149 million lost workdays.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain in Men
You might not realize, but your lower back pain might make you slightly more irritable every day. But, the first step to recovery is to get your lower back pain diagnosed so that you can undergo likely treatment for relief!
Sciatica is one of the most prominent causes of lower back pain that affects around 43% of people at least once in their lifetime! Sciatica is usually caused due to an inflammation of the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower spine to the heels of your feet. But in other cases, a bulging or herniated disc might press onto the sciatic nerve and cause a sharp pain in the lower back. Other causes of sciatica include spinal stenosis, stress fractures, muscle strains or sprains and scar tissues as well.
The pain is usually ‘piercing’ or ‘electric’ in nature that spreads like wildfire from your lower spine to the buttocks, legs and feet. Occasionally, sciatica is limiting in nature and might result in amplified ‘shooting’ pain in the buttocks, legs or feet with numbness and tingling sensations.
2) Anterior Pelvic Tilt
You are slouching at work – not because you hate the 9 to 5 grind, but mainly due to your throbbing back pain. You are in your 30s so all you want to do is perhaps, work till your muscles turn sore – and that is exactly what is happening right now! Since you are sitting for eight to nine hours on the job with your eyes fixated on your computer screen, your back is screaming to move about! Plus, let’s not forget to include the time that is spent on the couch (or the toilet) at home!
Sitting in one posture all day long without stretching or exercising for more than 5 days a week will result in a condition called ‘anterior pelvic tilt’. The pelvic tilt prevents your hips from contracting due to strain on muscles present in the groin, hip and thighs. These group of muscles include the quadriceps, hamstring and hip flexors that dysfunction leading to an imbalance in body posture. As the muscle imbalance tilts your pelvis, it also arches your lower back causing your buttocks to protrude or stick out as opposed to your body’s alignment.
3) Sleeping Posture
Lying flat on your stomach or back might seem as the most relaxing position when you are tired. But, in reality, your spine loses its curvature when you are sleeping on your stomach, causing it to bend and ache the following day. If you sleep on your back, your spine will miss its alignment due to lack of obvious knee support resulting in pain all day long.
4) Lifting Heavy Objects
Even if you do not work in construction, you are constantly lugging that heavy briefcase of yours at work! The constant strain of carrying your bag on one shoulder causes strain on your lower back as it supports your upper body.
However, if you are not lifting heavy objects at work, then chances are that the main culprit of your lower back pain is your alternating lifestyle at the gym. Since you are almost sedentary at work on weekdays and a lifting maniac at the gym on weekends, your back might take additional stress and pull a muscle or two due to strain.
5) Sports Injuries
From a mild strain to a herniated or ruptured disc, sports injuries are perhaps the leading cause of severe lower back pain in men. For instance, golf requires you to twist and turn while swinging your club. Your spine can become implicated if you twist your back a little too much while swinging and pull a muscle. Other injuries include overstretched ligaments leading to strains or sprains during running or weightlifting.
One such example of overt muscular stress is the rigidity of the tensor fascia latae that might become tight due to excessive running. The tensor fascia latae (TFL), otherwise known as a hip stabilizer, is a fibrous sheath that hugs your thighs like a Christmas stocking. It is a hip flexor which synchronizes the actions of your hips with your legs during rotation as well as provides postural support by limiting the stress on the thighs.
It also helps the hips during movement and allows it to bend and rotate easily with limited tensile stress. The TFL is the most active during running and can cause severe lower back pain due to repetitive mechanical stress.
Apart from the above-mentioned instances, stress is also a major cause of severe lower back pain in young men. Stress can lead to both mental and physical disturbances in your body. Most people complain of lethargy and low energy levels while in others, stress can lead to a breaking point and implicate your body’s muscles as well.
Since your body is under stress, it will start shutting itself down in response to mild to severe triggers. Slowly and gradually, you will run out of energy after which your muscles will become sore, tensile and rigid resulting in severe lower back pain typically.
Now, do you know why you might experience severe lower back pain in your 30s?
Stay tuned as we dissect each one of these causing factors with possible treatments that might provide you with relief from severe lower back pain!