LOW BACK PAIN
Is a 'bad back' slowing you down?
There is both good news and bad news.
The Bad News: Research has shown that over 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their life (*Journal of MPT, 2009) . This can make it difficult to exercise, play sports, or even get to the grocery store.
The Good News: Researchers have also found that chiropractic care can not only help get you back on track after an injury, but could also help prevent future episodes of low back pain from occurring (*SPINE, 2011).
Keeping your back healthy is much more important than just avoiding aches and pains. A stable and supported back is essential to maintaining a high quality of life.
Step 1: Understanding the Spine
In order to understand why you experience back pain, first you must know how your spine works. It is a creation of engineering genius; the three curves of your spine in the neck, upper and lower back are specifically crafted as a natural shock absorption system that is both strong and flexible. Your spine consists of 24 bony vertebrae with spongy discs sitting between them, the ‘shock absorbers’.
Q. Why is your spine so important to your health?
A. Because it protects the spinal cord, which transmits messages from your brain to control and coordinate your ENTIRE body.
When your spine stops working at its full potential, so does your body.
Is sitting the new smoking?
A spine doesn’t just randomly decide to stop working properly. If you’re in pain, it’s usually for a pretty good reason. You see, your body is smart not stupid. When you have pain it’s trying to tell you that something is wrong. Your body is sending you a message. Maybe you’re doing something wrong? Maybe it needs help.
The problem can start from any number of traumas, big or small. One of the common causes of low back pain and L4/5
vertebrae degeneration is probably something you’re doing right now – sitting. Lot's of little things can certainly add up to something big, and cause big problems and sitting is one of them.
Researchers have found too much sitting each day can be linked with a range of diseases (*Traditional and Emerging Lifestyle Risk Behaviours, 2015). It’s highly probable that sitting may be connected to the damage found commonly in low backs and the L4 or L5 discs. Sitting can atrophy (cause to waste away) the deep stabilizing muscles of your low back and shorten or tighten your hamstrings, increasing your risk of injury and putting increasing amounts of pressure on your discs and vertebrae.
There are a number of other traumas that might contribute to low back pain, some that are everyday activities and others that occur less often.
Lack of exercise
Prolonged lying down
Driving for long periods of time
Motor vehicle accidents
Repetitive exercise on hard surfaces
Repetative work postures of bending and twisting
Possible causes of low back pain
This is when the spine is out of alignment, and it can occur due to any of the above-mentioned factors/activities. Subluxation interferes with the messages from your brain getting to the rest of your body, so that your body struggles to heal itself. Pain can be the way your body is telling you it has subluxation / is out of alignment. Subluxation can oocur in other areas of the spine too like your neck and your mid back.
When the spine is subluxated or misaligned, and remains uncorrected, degeneration can occur. The discs, the spacers between vertebrae, become compressed and the spinal bones themselves deteriorate with rough edges and spurs. This degeneration then puts even more pressure on the nerves which can cause (even more) low back pain.
If spinal degeneration remains uncorrected, the
pressure on the jelly-like middle of the discs can
cause it to ‘herniate’ or ‘rupture’, pressing on the
sensitive nerves around the spine. When the
disc herniates at L4/5 it can press on the sciatic
nerve causing buttock, thigh, leg or even foot pain.
A defect or fracture of one or both wing-shaped parts of a vertebra that can cause the vertebrae to slip forward over the bone below. Typically it occurs at L5 and can cause a dull, gnawing ache in your low back and aching legs especially when you stand still for a long time.
Vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis (brittle bones)
A narrowing of the spine space around the spinal cord, typically the result of osteoarthritis/ degeneration and puts pressure on the spinal cord causing chronic low back pain.
An abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine, especially when left to degenerate, can cause chronic low back pain and disability
If you have back pain, it’s NOT normal
Research has shown that over 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their life.
When patients come into our office, they say that yes, they have back pain, but that’s normal isn’t it?
NO IT IS NOT.
While it might be common, it is never normal to be in constant pain.
Your body was designed to be HEALTHY.
It’s not about sucking up the pain because it’s ‘normal’, it’s about finding a way for your body to heal and restore you to a healthier version of yourself.
Why does all this matter?
After headaches and colds, back pain is the third most common reason people take time off work. (Lavelle 2005 abc.net.au)
A healthy spine can contribute to a better quality of life
You don’t have to live like this!
Step 2: Take matters into your own hands
There are several ways that you can minimize the likelihood of getting low back pain:
Walking: tones the muscles either side of the spine and places stress/ vertical pressure upon the spinal bones which helps increase bone density
Drink lots of water: the more hydrated you can remain the less likelihood for injury
Use a sit - stand desk at work: so you can still get the job done while ensuring you don’t become sedentary
Take short breaks every 25-30 minutes to stretch and walk around the office: a great way to increase your energy level and engage the muscles supporting your low back. Our bodies are designed to move!
Avoid pushing through the pain: listen to your body. If it’s telling you that something is wrong, there is probably something wrong.
See a chiropractor: so many people have found relief from low back pain with Chiropractic care over the years
Step 3: Should I see a Chiropractor?
Sometimes, no matter what you do yourself the problem just won’t go away on its own.
This is where a chiropractor can come in.
It was shown that:
Adjustments have been shown to be more effective at reducing pain than many commonly prescribed medications
They provided more patients with relief than spinal injections
Patients had just as much relief with chiropractic adjustments as they did with surgery (*Journal of MPT, 2013)
With a combined evidence and patient-based approach, House of Chiropractic will work with your body to help you get your life back.
1* A Nonsurgical Approach to the Management of Patients with Lumbar Radiculopathy Secondary to Herniated Disk: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study with Follow-Up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2009
2* Does Maintained Spinal Manipulation Therapy for Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain Result in Better Long-Term Outcome? SPINE. 2011
3* Traditional and Emerging Lifestyle Risk Behaviors and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Evidence from a Large Population-Based Australian Cohort. December 2015
4* Symptomatic MRI-Confirmed Lumbar Disk Herniation Patients: A Comparative Effectiveness Prospective Observational Study of 2 Age- and Sex-Matched Cohorts Treated with Either High-Velocity, Low Amplitude Spinal Manipulative Therapy or Imaging-Guided Lumbar Nerve Root Injections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2013