Low back pain is one of the most common conditions we see on a day to day basis. 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. Low back pain can be caused by any number of underlying injuries, but some of the most common causes of low back pain are sprains and strains, joint dysfunction, and disc injuries.
1. Ligament Sprains and Muscle Strains
Sprain/strain injuries occur when ligaments or muscles are stretched or torn. This can be caused by acute trauma, such as a fall, sports injury, or motor vehicle accident. More often these injuries occur due to low-level stress that is applied over an extended period of time, which occurs with poor posture, sedentary lifestyle, repetitive movements, improper lifting, pregnancy, or weight gain. Prolonged sitting places the low back at increased risk of injury because increases the amount of force placed on the lumbar discs, and it causes weakening and stretching of the muscles and ligaments in the spine. About 70% of low back pain is caused by sprain/strain injuries.
2. Joint Dysfunction
Joint dysfunction occurs when the joints of the spine are not moving the way they should be, which can cause pain, stiffness, and muscle tightness. Longstanding joint dysfunction can cause improper wear and tear on the joints, leading to premature joint degeneration and arthritis. Low back pain associated with joint dysfunction can worsen with prolonged sitting or standing, overhead activity, and forward bending. Many times joint dysfunction in the low back is associated with poor posture.
3. Disc Injuries
Disc injuries are relatively common, and studies show that 35-45% of adults will experience this condition at some point in their lives. Like sprain/strain injuries, disc injuries can occur due to acute trauma or chronic low-level stress. Typically disc injuries begin when the outer fibers of the disc stretch, weaken, and tear. This often happens slowly over time, however certain factors, like sedentary lifestyle and smoking, can cause the disc fibers to weaken more quickly. Eventually the outer fibers of the disc weaken to the point that the inner part of the disc can herniate. Disc injuries in the low back are a very common cause of low back pain. Disc injuries can also cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the legs due to nerve compression.
Chiropractors are specially trained to treat low back pain using a variety of conservative techniques, without any drugs or surgery. The first step to treating low back pain is to identify the specific cause of the pain. Since there can be numerous causes of low back pain, we go through the patient’s health history and conduct a thorough exam to assess the muscles, joints, and other tissues that might be contributing to the issue. Once we determine whether the pain is being caused by a sprain/strain, joint dysfunction, disc injury, or some other condition, we can develop a personalized treatment plan to address it specifically. Each condition requires a unique approach to treatment, however most low back pain responds very well to a combination of joint mobilization and manipulation, massage and trigger point release, and therapeutic exercise. If you or someone you know is suffering from low back pain, please contact our office to learn more about how we can help.