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Stiffness

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Updated April 22, 2008

Definition:

Back stiffness is usually caused by muscle spasm or lumbar arthritis. The best way to to differentiate the cause of the stiffness is the onset of the symptoms. Patients with stiffness caused by lumbar spine arthritis usually have steadily increasing symptoms over years of a worsening problem. On the other hand, muscular stiffness is often caused by an acute event, that leads to the sudden development of back problems.

Lumbar Strain
A lumbar strain is the most common cause of back stiffness. This problem occurs as a result of an injury to the back muscles and ligaments that support the spinal column. Patients may or may not remember the initial event that triggered their muscle spasm, but the symptoms of a lumbar muscle strain can be severe.

Lumbar Spine Arthritis
Arthritis of the back can lead to stiffness by wearing out the joints of the vertebrae. As arthritis progresses, cartilage and discs in the lumbar spine wear out and become less mobile. This leads to a stiff back. This may make movements such as bending, stooping and twisting quite difficult.

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