If you have been experiencing persistent low back pain for some time now, do not hesitate to take action and consult your doctor. Low back pains should not be downplayed or ignored. Its impact is more serious than you might imagine.
As many as 80% of adults suffer from low back pain. It is one of the leading reasons for people to miss work and the top contributor to job-related disability. Recent research shows that more than a quarter of adults have experienced low back pain in the last three months. In 2010, low back pain was considered the 3rd most burdensome condition in America, following heart disease and pulmonary disease.
Low back pain can be anywhere between dull and aching discomfort to sharp and stabbing pain. The pain can be so damaging that it leaves the patient disabled. Sometimes lower back pain happens gradually, or it may start all of a sudden if you lift something heavy improperly. Age-related shifts to the spine frequently cause back pain, and so does an inactive lifestyle.
Low back pain commonly lasts a few days to a few weeks and heals on its own with rest and self-care. Low back pain is often mechanical, meaning there is an issue in the way the spine, nerves, discs, and muscles team up and move.
Explaining Back Pain and Spinal Anatomy
It is crucial to understand how the back functions to be able to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. The lower back consists of five vertebrae – L1 through L5. They hold much of the weight of the upper body. In between the vertebrae are round, rubber-like pads called discs. These discs serve as shock absorbers and cushion the bones as the body makes movements. Ligaments connect the bones to each other and tendons connect the muscles to the bones. In the spinal cord, there are 31 sets of nerves that regulate body movements and relay signals to the brain.
Top Causes of Back Pain
One reason for low back pain is spondylosis or the general degeneration of the spine due to natural wear and tear in the bones, joints, and discs as people age. Below are some other causes of back pain:
- A trauma: Muscles, tendons, and ligaments become damaged and lead to lower back pain. Some common causes are simple trips and falls, vehicle crashes, or sporting accidents.
- Sprains and strains: These two are the top culprits for acute back pain. Sprains result from overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Strains are tears of the tendon or muscle. You can have sprain and strain if you lift something too heavy improperly. An injury like that may also cause muscle spasms in the back that can be painful.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration: This occurs when your rubbery discs lose integrity. The discs lose their cushioning ability and can cause pain when you bend or move your back.
- Herniated or ruptured discs: The compression or rupture of the intervertebral discs can cause low back pain when they irritate the nerves nearby.
- Radiculopathy: When a spinal nerve root becomes inflamed, injured, or compressed, it causes numbness, pain, and tingling that radiates within the zone where the nerve is located. It frequently occurs when spinal stenosis or a herniated disc pinch the nerve.
- Sciatica: This is a type of radiculopathy that happens due to compression of the largest nerve of the body – the sciatic nerve. This nerve travels through the buttocks and extends down the back of both legs. The sciatica pain can feel like a burning sensation in the lower back, buttocks, and down the back of one leg, sometimes even reaching into the foot.
- Spondylolisthesis: A vertebra of the lower spine glides out of place and stresses the nerves departing the spinal column.
- Skeletal irregularities: This includes lordosis, scoliosis, and other congenital anomalies.
- Spinal stenosis: This is the result of the tightening of the spinal column and creates tension on the spinal cord and nerves.
Steps to Care for the Spine and Prevent Low Back Pain
Determining how to care for your spine and get rid of the pain depends on whether you are suffering from chronic or acute low back pain. Some of the traditional ways to manage low back pain are listed below:
- Hot or cold packs: Although there isn’t a concrete study proving that the use of hot or cold packs resolves low back pain injuries, it can help ease pain and inflammation.
- Strengthening exercises: This is recommended for chronic low back pain sufferers. Exercises are essential for those with skeletal irregularities. Those who experience acute back pain should refrain from strenuous exercise. Consult with your doctor before engaging in any workout.
- Physical therapy: Exercises and stretches led by a physical therapist usually encourage the strengthening of the core muscle groups that support the low back. Physical therapy also helps promote proper posture and enhance flexibility.
- Activity: You might think bed rest helps, but too much bed rest can be harmful. Stretching exercises and regular daily routines are suggested. Just avoid movements that bring about pain.
Nurturing the Spine Through Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
Here at Symmetry Health Chiropractic Center in Cedar Park, Texas, helping our patients get rid of their pains and conditions is our top priority, including low back pain. We do it by addressing the possible root cause of the issue – a spinal misalignment, particularly in the C1 or C2 vertebra.
If either the C1 or C2 vertebra is not appropriately aligned, the head gets off balance. This leads to the spine shifting and twisting in its attempt to keep the head in its correct place. Eventually, it results in issues with the spine, including back pain and those conditions mentioned above.
Our upper cervical care uses a gentle technique to realign the bones of the neck. Maintaining the correct alignment of the spine is also crucial in keeping low back pain from reoccurring. Our adjustment technique results in the bones staying in their proper position for longer, which maximizes the body’s ability to heal itself. Call us today to see what we can do to help your condition.