Understanding & Dealing with Lower Back Pain
Your back and spine need to be strong while also flexible, allowing for mobility in all directions while protecting the sensitive spinal cord and nerve roots. There are many different causes of back pain, from irritation to the nerve roots that run up your arms and legs to strains inside the large back muscles and any injury to the disc, bones, joints or ligaments in the spine.
Lower back pain is incredibly common, representing the biggest contributor to missed work days and job-related disability. Pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that leave you incapacitated. Lower back pain can occur abruptly from an accident or develop over time due to age and living a sedentary lifestyle.
How Causes Lower Back Pain
The lower back includes the five vertebrae (referred to as L1-L5) in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The majority of lower back pain is mechanical and associated with wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs and bones of the spine.
Some examples include:
- Sprains and strains – Caused by overstretching or tearing ligaments, tendons or muscles. This usually occurs when twisting or lifting something improperly or too heavy.
- Herniated or ruptured discs – When intervertebral discs become compressed and bulge outward or rupture.
- Sciatica – Caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve that travels down the buttocks and back of the leg, causing a burning pain in the lower back, buttocks and leg.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration – A result of your rubbery discs losing their cushioning ability as they deteriorate with age.
- Radiculopathy – Caused by pressure on the nerve root, resulting in pain, numbness or a tingling sensation.
- Spinal stenosis – Caused by a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, causing pain or numbness with walking and over time leads to leg weakness and sensory loss.
- Skeletal irregularities – These include scoliosis, lordosis and other anomalies of the spine that lead to pain and impact functionality.
Lower back pain is also caused by a direct traumatic injury to the back. It is also associated with inflammatory diseases of the joints, such as arthritis as well as fibromyalgia, endometriosis and osteoporosis.
Treating Lower Back Pain
Treatment for lower back pain varies depending on the cause of the pain and whether it is acute or chronic and includes:
- Physical therapy programs – These aim to strengthen core muscle groups that support the lower back, improve mobility and flexibility. Strengthening exercises are effective for chronic or subacute back pain but not for acute back pain.
- Chiropractic adjustments – A chiropractor uses their hands to adjust, mobilise, massage or stimulate the spine and surrounding tissue. This is an effective treatment for chronic lower back pain as well as acute or subacute back pain if the pain is of a low quality. It’s not appropriate if the back pain is caused by an underlying medical condition like arthritis.
- Injections – These range from nerve block therapies to epidural steroid injections to relieve pain in the short to medium term.
- Surgery – This may be considered an option to relieve pain caused by serious musculoskeletal injuries or nerve compression. Surgical treatments come in a variety of forms ranging from treatments to repair compressions fractures to spinal fusion to treat degenerative disc disease.
Other treatments include using hot or cold packs can to reduce inflammation, acupuncture, electrical stimulation therapy and using a range of medications to treat pain.
Make an Appointment at Our Perth Clinic
Got lower back pain? Visit a chiropractor today. For more information on our physiotherapeutic muscle therapy or chiropractic adjustments, read our section on what to expect for your first visit. If you’re experiencing pain related to your spine, joints or soft tissue, make an appointment with our chiropractors today. To make an appointment, contact us online or call 08 9227 9341 today.