Lower back pain affects some 90% of the population.
Lower back problems are only 2nd to common cold as a cause of lost work days.
It is one of the most common reasons for a visit to a doctor or emergency dept.
– Common causes of back pain include disease or injury to muscles, bones, ligaments, discs or nerves of the spine. Back pain can also be caused by pain being referred to the back by one of the organs.
– Nerve root syndromes are the ones where spinal nerves get compressed. Sciatica is an example of nerve root impingement.
– Spondylosis is a condition where spine has degenerated due to long term damage to discs. Typically these discs will be thinner and have evidence of deterioration such as osteophytes, which are usually found at edges of vertebral bodies.
– Myofascial pain syndromes are characterized by pain and tenderness over a localized area, such as ‘trigger’ points and a loss of range of motion.
– Fibromyalgia results in widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body.
– Shingles is a painful condition where a nerve root has been infected by a herpes zoster virus.
In low back problems the pain may be just in the low back or it may radiate down the front, side or back of the leg.
In some cases it may be difficult to stand on your toes or flex a big toe. In these cases the injury has occurred to the nerves that control these movements. In case of difficulty to flex (lift) the big toe is due to an injury to the 5th lumbar nerve.
Back pain treatments, for majority of all low back problems, include reducing inflammation, restoring proper motion and strength to the back and prevent re-occurrences.
In all common back injuries, in addition to the above, the treatment, should include re-education of proper posture. This should extend to proper sleeping and sitting posture.
In my opinion, this last habit of proper posture is a basic requirement towards a healthy back.
It is these basic habits, such as posture problems, which start straining the back structures, early on in life. When these types of problems continue uncorrected, the strain on the back keeps increasing. Eventually there is an event, like a heavy lift, sleeping ‘wrong’, a push or a pull, carrying etc. which results in an injury to the spine.
This is often the time when people seek chiropractic care. Some people make proper changes to their lifestyle, most do not.
When changes are made, it is an uphill battle. Changing one’s posture seems like an ongoing task, especially in the begining. However, perseverance pays big dividends, as with corrected posture, minimal strain occurs to the spine, therefore decreasing chances of injury.
Due to the demands of modern life, like excessive sitting, muscular changes occur such that the hip flexors, core flexors and neck extensors muscles shorten. When shortened, these muscles directly contribute to ‘strain and sprain’ type injuries. At this point some minor exertions can result in back injuries.
The only way to prevent majority of low back problems is to be fit, especially in the core and have a proper posture. Some back problems will have the tendency to re-occur, just from injuries we suffer when young.
When we are kids and young adults we injure our bodies before becoming aware that some of those injuries will be problematic later on in life.
Chronic back sufferers can often be identified in teenage years. It can be seen in their posture and their walking, sitting and sleeping habits. That is why, in most back problems, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.
Find out what ‘prevention’ measures you can do now.
Find out about proper posture.
Find out about ‘core’ exercises.