There are many causes of low back pain. The most common is muscle spasms resulting from overactivity. Most acute low back pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. However, some low back pain originates in the spine and may be more persistent. The facet joints, lumbar discs and sacroiliac joint are common spinal sources of low back pain.
The lumbar facets are often a source of low back pain in middle-aged to elderly patients or those following trauma. The pain is more often felt in the lower back and often made worse with changing position and other movements. The pain may spread to the back of the thigh but usually does not go down to the feet. There may or may not be signs of facet arthritis on imaging (x-ray, CT or MRI). At the Emory Pain Center we have very effective methods for treating pain that comes from the lumbar facet.
The sacroiliac joint is the largest joint in your body. It is supported by muscles and ligaments which also may be a source of low back pain. It is also a source of hip pain. Sitting or standing for a long time tends to aggravate pain from the sacroiliac joint. There are minimally invasive treatments performed in conjunction with physical therapy that are very helpful in relieving pain from the sacroiliac joint.