It is said that over 65% of American’s will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives that will be severe enough to cause them to seek medical attention. This is an epidemic due to our sedentary lifestyles, increase in obesity and lack or core strength, as well as the great deal of sitting that we do in modern America.
What cause lower back pain?
Causes of back pain, after ruling out life threatening causes, usually breaks down to just a few different categories and I am going to keep it really simple for you in order of most common to least common.
- Tight muscles and restricted mobility (kinetic subluxation). Definitely the number one cause of lower back pain. I see it in the office every day and due to muscle tension and the stresses of daily living, patients develop hypertonic muscles which restrict joint mobility. Examination reveals decreased range of motion and pain and x-rays examination looks normal. This can occur in any joint in the body. There are many reasons neurologically why this leads to the generation of pain which isn’t important to explain. What is important, and the good news is, is that relaxing the muscles and increasing the joint mobility quickly reduces the pain. Chiropractic is a wonderful way of accomplishing this and has been doing so for over 100 years. Stretching, massage and anything that will increase mobility and decrease muscle tension can be a great adjunct. Left uncorrected, decreased mobility has been shown in the literature to accelerate the rate of degeneration (arthritis) in the joint.
- Static subluxation. Static subluxation is where there is a shift in one or more of the vertebrae, enough to irritate muscles, ligaments, nerves and circulation, but the bone isn’t dislocated. This is easily diagnosed on x-ray. When compared to normal posture and alignment, you will see that the alignment has shifted from normal at one or more levels of the spine. This situation can also lead to accelerated degeneration but can also lead to unwanted postural changes as well. Unlike number one above, this isn’t quite as quick of a fix because now we have to deal with the shift in the structure as well as the tight muscles and restricted mobility which can take time depending how long the shift in the structure has been there.
- Lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, spondylosis and osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine. These conditions develop secondary to neglecting to address numbers 1 and 2 above or secondary to some trauma to the lumbar spine. All can lead to serious lower back pain. Getting mobility back into the involved segment or segments is critical, not only to reducing pain, but also to slow the process of accelerated degeneration. In severe cases the level of degeneration may prevent the patient from being able to achieve a full recovery. Bulging or herniated discs may develop over time as the supporting ligaments and muscles weaken around the affected joint.
- Bulging disc or disc herniation is the last and most difficult to treat. If caught early in the process conservative chiropractic care and physical therapy may be a solution for back pain, however in chronic or advanced disc degeneration with associated bulging or herniated disc the patient may need to undergo spinal decompression therapy in order to avoid back surgery.
If you have questions about your lower back pain and whether or not you are candidate for chiropractic, physical therapy or spinal decompression, call the office now at 407-522-5858. My staff and I are here to help.