Lower back pain can contribute to many other physical and mental health conditions. Complications may depend on the cause of the back pain but include pain in other areas, arthritis, depression, and sleep issues.

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Lower back pain is one of many common conditions that can result from physically demanding professions such as military service. There are many possible secondary conditions that can occur if you don’t properly treat or manage your lower back pain.

Read on to learn what the research says about which secondary conditions may have a link to your lower back pain.

What is a secondary condition and why is it important?

A secondary condition happens when a health issue or medical condition you have causes another condition to develop. It’s essentially a complication of another condition.

Establishing a clear link between a primary condition and a secondary condition can help you get the right insurance coverage you need.

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There’s a strong link between lower back pain from conditions like herniated discs or degeneration of joint tissues and severe types of arthritis that may otherwise simply happen as you age.

Osteoarthritis is especially common as a complication of injury, wear and tear, or degeneration that happens along with lower back pain and its various causes.

Experts have suggested lower back pain linked to arthritis is a factor in several secondary conditions, including insomnia and reduced mobility.

A 2021 study suggests that some specific types of long-term, untreated lower back pain can greatly increase your risk of major depressive disorder (MDD). Your risk may be higher if you experience any other disabilities or stress due to financial hardship.

Lower back pain can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) in a number of different ways.

A pinched nerve from inflammation due to lower back pain and injury can reduce sensation in your genital area. This can make it harder for your penis to be properly stimulated into an erection.

Feelings of depression or lifestyle changes that result from lower back pain can also lead to ED.

Inflammation from lower back pain and injury can put pressure on the nerves around your spine, including your sciatic nerve.

When your sciatic nerve is compressed, pain can spread into your hips and legs. This kind of hip pain can worsen if you sit for long periods of time. Walking or other daily activities may also trigger it.

Myelopathy happens when you experience pain related to compression of your spinal cord. It’s a possible complication of spinal injuries or degeneration in your spinal discs from injuries or arthritis.

People with lower back pain can have inflammation that results in myelopathy and increased pain from spinal compression. Even though pain might start in your lower back, the pain can spread to other parts of your spine.

Your neck and lower back are the top and bottom sections of your spine. It’s understandable that pain in one area can lead to pain in the other. Low back pain can affect your posture and movement, which could lead to neck pain.

A 2018 research review identified low back pain as a common risk factor for new neck pain.

Lower back pain can make it difficult to exercise or do daily activities. Over time, your inability to exercise can lead to obesity.

Obesity can also put strain on your lower back, worsening your back pain.

Some causes of lower back pain, such as a herniated disc, can cause paralysis if left untreated.

Paralysis can start simply as tingling, numbness, or weakness in your legs along with lower back pain. These can sometimes be early symptoms of disc degeneration, herniation, or injury, which can lead to paralysis over time.

Persistent genital arousal disorder (PGAD) happens when people with vulvas experience sudden feelings of sexual arousal without any obvious stimulation or cause. This can result in uncomfortable and unwanted tingling and even nerve pain in your genitals, including your clitoris.

A 2020 case study suggests a link between lower back pain caused by an injury and PGAD, although the link isn’t well understood. Treatments for lower back pain appeared to also reduce the severity of PGAD.

Plantar heel pain can result from inflammation or degeneration of the ligaments at the bottom of your foot. Back pain may alter the way you walk, putting stress on these ligaments and causing inflammation and pain.

A 2018 study found a significant link between untreated lower back pain and plantar heel pain. The researchers also suggested that treating low back pain could help improve symptoms of plantar heel pain.

Lower back pain is commonly due to nerve pain or nerve damage. It’s often a result of a pinched nerve from a herniated disc or degeneration in your spinal joints.

This kind of pain can often spread from your lower back into your hips, legs, and feet.

Pain in your lower back can affect how freely your spine can move and rotate. This can cause other parts of your body to compensate for the loss of freedom of motion. Your shoulder muscles often bear some of this responsibility, which may lead to overexertion.

A 2021 research review noted a link between chronic low back pain and sleep disorders like insomnia. Researchers also found that the worse someone’s pain, the more it affected their sleep.

But the relationship also goes both ways, so the problems can build on each other. Poor sleep can often worsen back pain you already have.

Lower back pain can affect pelvic nerves that help you control your bladder. Loss of sensation or muscle weakness from lower back pain can make you feel like you have to pee a lot or lose control of your bladder function.

Lower back pain and frequent urination can sometimes indicate that you have kidney stones or a kidney infection. These conditions can also affect how often you pee or how well you can control your pee.

Lower back pain has many causes that can result in secondary conditions if the cause is left untreated.

Understanding the link between your lower back pain and other conditions that may have developed can help you get the treatment you need and the right insurance coverage for all of the conditions you’re experiencing.