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Lower Back Pain
What causes it and how to fix it?
Lower back pain affects 80% of people throughout their lifetime. This can be a frustrating experience as it limits your ability to enjoy life. Low back pain is the 2nd most common reason for time lost at work, creating a lot of lost revenue and the 5th most common reason to visit your medical doctor.
Why get it treated?
Most cases of low back pain will improve after 2 months. But who has two months to wait around in pain? Even then, just because the pain has gone away does not mean that the problem has gone away! Pain is often one of the last symptoms that are a result of weak muscles and mechanical imbalances in the body. Back pain can be a result of the inability of our body to adapt to these imbalances. Chiropractors use a variety of treatments to help decrease the pain and help you recover faster so you can get back to work and your normal activities of daily living, as well as help fix the mechanical imbalances.
Those patients who do recover suffer a recurrence rate of 60% within the first 1-2 years. Research has shown that specific lower back exercises can decrease the likelihood of recurrence by 10 times by strengthening specific muscles, and fixing imbalances!! Learning these exercises is essential for everyone with low back if they want to prevent it from returning.
Learning the causes of low back pain can help identify what aggravates your pain, and avoiding that activity or modifying it can provide tremendous relief!
About 95%-98% of lower back pain can be classified as ‘mechanical’ in nature, which means it involves the muscles and joints of the spine without any significant pathology (tumour, fracture, nerve damage). However, it is still very important you get it diagnosed and treated when it begins to lower the chances of it becoming chronic. Mechanical back pain can be a result from trauma, poor posture or repetitive strain (performing the same activity over and over). This affects the muscles, joints and ligaments of the spine which can create pain and inflammation.
It is important to note that HURT DOES NOT EQUAL HARM. Often people are afraid to move because of the pain, and my lie in bed for days. This is in fact one of the worst things your should do. Bedrest is no longer prescribed for low back pain as it allows the muscles to shrink and weaken, which creates chronic recurring back problems. The best way to deal with mechanical low back pain is to keep moving. However, it is important to know what movement is good and what movement is bad. Most people will have a directional preference with back pain. This simply means they would prefer to bend forward, rather than backwards (or vice versa). The key is to identify this preference, and avoid the aggravating direction and move into the non-painful range of motion (ie. if bending forward hurts, then gently bend backwards).
How to Fix It
Do you have questions on how to get rid of your back pain? Are you sure you are doing the proper exercises? Do you want to know better strategies for preventing back pain?
To prevent and cure lower back pain it is important to have proper flexibility, core endurance, education about aggravating risk factors, and a proper ratio between low back and abdominal endurance.
Proper exercise combined with specific therapy to help target the affected muscles and get you out of pain sooner is part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Therapy can include manual adjustments, soft tissue therapy, electro acupuncture and therapist assisted stretching.
There are many causes of lower back pain, so it is important to know your diagnosis because this will affect treatment, prognosis, and daily coping activities.
Other causes of lower back pain may include:
- bulging disk
- degenerative disk disease
- muscle strain