Dealing with a constantly tense, achy, and tight lower back can be agonizing. A stiff back can significantly impact your daily life and overall well-being, whether it’s the result of an injury, poor posture, or a medical condition. If you’re seeking answers and solutions to alleviate your discomfort, understanding the potential causes of a stiff back and the importance of consulting with a back specialist is crucial.
This article explores common reasons for a stiff back. We also discuss when to see a doctor and take control of your back health with the help of NJ Spine & Orthopedic, a trusted team of orthopedists and neurosurgeons specializing in the musculoskeletal system.
Common Causes of a Stiff Back
The causes of a stiff back can vary from person to person. The spinal discs degenerate as we age, and joints become less flexible, resulting in stiffness. Emotional distress and tension can also bring about muscle tightness, stiffness, and discomfort in the back. Some of the most common causes of a stiff back include:
Muscular Strain and Sprain
This occurs when the muscles or ligaments supporting the spine are stretched or torn due to sudden movements, lifting heavy objects, or repetitive activities. Poor posture, inadequate conditioning, and muscle imbalances can also contribute to low back strain.
Arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the joints and discs in the spine, leading to stiffness and discomfort. Over time, the degenerative changes associated with arthritis can result in reduced flexibility, inflammation, and pain. An orthopedic doctor can diagnose the specific type of arthritis affecting your spine and develop a personalized treatment plan to improve mobility and enhance your quality of life.
A herniated disc occurs when a tear in the disc pushes the soft cushion-like fragment out into the spinal canal and puts pressure on surrounding nerves. This condition can cause localized pain, stiffness, and radiating pain or numbness in the arms or legs, depending on the location of the affected disc.
Spinal stenosis is a condition of the lower back region that causes the spinal canal to narrow, which compresses the spinal cord and nerve endings. This narrowing can lead to a stiff back, related pain, weakness, and leg numbness. Age-related degeneration, herniated discs, and bone spurs are common causes of spinal stenosis. A back specialist can evaluate your symptoms, perform diagnostic tests, and develop a treatment plan to relieve the stiffness and improve your spinal condition.
It is highly advisable to consult a specialist who treats different types of back pain for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment options. These conditions can compress the spinal cord or nerves and lead to stiffness, pain, and reduced movement.
When to Seek Professional Help for a Stiff Back
While some instances of a stiff back may improve with rest and self-care, there are times when seeking professional help is necessary. Consult a spine specialist if you experience:
- Severe and persistent back pain
- Pain that radiates to the legs or arms
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Weakness or numbness in the limbs
- Back pain following a traumatic injury
- Pain in the back accompanied by unexplained weight loss
A stiff back is diagnosed through medical history assessments, physical examinations, and imaging studies. During the evaluation, a specialist will inquire about the symptoms, duration, severity, and underlying medical conditions.
They will also perform a physical examination to assess the range of motion, muscle strength, and areas of tenderness or inflammation along the back. An X-ray or MRI scan may be used to rule out any structural abnormalities or back trauma.
The Experienced Back Specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic Are Here to Help
If you’re tired of living with a stiff back and want to regain your mobility and quality of life, reach out to NJ Spine & Orthopedic today. We are a leading provider of back, spine, and neck treatment, offering a wide range of services to help patients overcome related symptoms. Our team of highly skilled back specialists utilizes a multidisciplinary approach and the latest advancements in diagnostics and treatments, including minimally invasive procedures, to deliver personalized care.
With a patient-centric approach, we prioritize your comfort, well-being, and long-term recovery. Improved back health is within reach. Call a spine specialist at (866) 553-0612 or submit an online contact form to schedule a comprehensive appointment today. Our Concierge Team can also help coordinate all aspects of your appointments so that you have less stress.