Low back pain may present itself in many different forms. Sometimes it feels like it radiates, other times it’s sharp, dull, stabbing, or even shooting!
Common causes of low back pain include poor posture when sitting at work or in your car, carry a baby in their car seat on one side of your body, raking the yard or shoveling your driveway, sports, lifting heavy weights, personal or auto injuries, the natural aging process, and the list goes on… Back pain can present in the spinal column itself, the muscles supporting the spine, tendons and ligaments, and even nerve interference. Chiropractic has been shown to improve back pain caused by all of these and more. Below are some common reasons your back may be hurting right now. (Low Back Pain)
Spinal Injuries and Conditions
Back pain can come from the spine in a variety of ways. Infections, disc herniations, autoimmune diseases, stenosis, calcifications, and tumors. Spinal infections are rare but can affect tissue around your spinal cord causing intense pain and other symptoms. Most infections affecting the back are Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection)
Acute injuries (injury residuals last less than 6 months) are no joking matter. An injury tends to feel like sharp pain, occasionally associated with swelling, tingling, or even burning feeling. The area can have bruising, redness, and will likely be painful to the touch. It is widely known that chiropractic manipulation gets joints moving properly. But did you know that chiropractic adjustments can also help acute injuries by decreasing muscle tension and improving blood flow?
Low-Back Muscle Pain (aka Strains), Tendon and Ligament Injuries (aka Sprains)
When you pull a muscle (strain) or a ligament (sprain) it can put you out of commission for several days. Chiropractic adjustments may help prevent these kinds of injuries. Even after an injury adjustments can still play a vital role by getting the area moving again and helps control the swelling, where the pain is really coming from.
Nerve Interference comes from compression from surrounding tissue or inflammation. Common sensations include numbness, sharp, aching, burning, tingling, pins and needles, weakness, feeling of fallen asleep, or even decrease in sensation. Although MRI imaging is the golden standard for detecting nerve interference, nerve interference can also be detected with an EMG. Some self-tests that can be done at home include Arm tension test, neck compression test, head turn test, and relief test. All four tests can be searched for online, but I will quickly go over each for your understanding. (Neurodynamic Assessment)
The arm tension test is when you extend your arm in front of you. Turn your wrist outward so that your palm faces out. Move your arm to the side as far as you comfortably feel. If the symptoms increase then that may be a sign of nerve compression.
The neck compression test is where you simply apply light pressure to the top of your head. Hold the pressure for ten to fifteen seconds. A positive test will be pain, tingling and numbness down the arm which is affected.
The head turn test is looking over your shoulder on the painful side. Hold this position for thirty to sixty seconds. A positive test result will simulate pain, tingling, and numbness.
The relief test is tilting your head to the non-affected side. Then lift up on your head for ten to fifteen seconds. Positive for this test is relief of symptoms.
Disc condition can also be a cause of low back pain. This occurs due to inflammation or degeneration of soft tissue to irritate a nerve or a nerve root. The foramen of the disc does not literally “pinch” the nerve, however, inflammation can irritate the nerve and be quite painful.
Arthritis in gross over-simplification is breakdown of the joints. It could be due to normal wear and tear through years of use, or a variety of medical condition where the auto immune system attacks the joint. Unfortunately, modern medical techniques have a hard time combating the causation of arthritis. However, the symptoms of arthritis may be alleviated with soft tissue techniques and joint manipulation. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to improve mobilization and range of motion, improve balance, increase gait speed, and decrease disability based on a twelve weeks treatment period (osteoarthritis).
Accidents whether they are car accidents, slip and falls, fall from a ladder, or even a simple miss step on the pavement can cause the back to stiffen up. Occasionally if left untreated an accident can cause other serious health problems. Car accidents in specific sometimes do not present for months after and may be seen as headaches, dizziness, soreness, and reduced range of motion in addition to pain. There are amazing stories of people getting into horrific car accidents and walking away unscathed. There are also stories of minor accidents causing severe pain. It is very important to take the extra precaution and see your local chiropractor. Minnesota is a no-fault state when it comes to auto accidents, purpose being that medical bills are paid promptly and no negative impact on your insurance premiums, because of medical treatments received (Jacobson, Stan).
Postural pain is very prevalent in today’s society. The rise in computers has led to increase office jobs in front of a computer and staring down at a cell phone. When sitting the spine experiences almost 1.5 times the pressure on the spine verse standing. When slouching the pressure almost reaches twice the pressure on the spine (under pressure). Similar with texting, with a normal posture there is between ten and twelve pounds on the neck. When looking down at the phone that number may reach as high as sixty pounds on the neck (texting).
If you don’t want to end up a hunched over Gollum here are four stretches help low back pain a bunch. Prayer stretch is a good one where you tuck your legs underneath and sit back on your heels. Bend forward at the waist and extend arms overhead in front. This stretch really helps loosen up the deep hip muscles in the back you use when sitting for long periods of time. Hold this position for thirty seconds and repeat three to five times.
Second stretch is the single knee to chest. This stretch helps with hip tightness which can contribute to low back pain in the glut. Lie on your back with one knee bent and one leg straight. Place hands behind the leg and pull back towards your chest until you feel a light stretch, don’t feel like you have to overdo it. Hold stretch for thirty seconds and repeat three to five times.
Piriformis Stretch is also helpful for loosening up the muscle located through the glutes. How this is performed is by lying flat with one knee bent. Cross the ankle of the opposite leg and place it over the bent knee, like a human pretzel. Pull the bent knee towards your chest until stretch is felt, hold for thirty seconds.
Final stretch is the pelvic tilt with can help the stabilizer muscles of the low back. This stretch you lie flat with both knees bent. Abdominal muscles are tightened, like blowing out a candle, and push the small of your back into the floor. Hold for ten seconds and repeat for ten repetitions.
Jacobson, Stan. AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE: THE MINNESOTA NO-FAULT AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE LAW. https://www.leg.state.mn.us/docs/pre2003/other/860128.pdf.
Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
“Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet.
To Fix That Pain in Your Back, You Might Have to Change the Way You Sit
The centralization phenomenon in chiropractic spinal manipulation of discogenic low back pain and sciatica
How Chiropractors Can Help Arthritis Pain
Chiropractic care of a 70-year-old female patient with hip osteoarthritis
Under Pressure: Poor Posture Puts More Pressure on Your Spine
What Texting Does to the Spine
“Neurodynamic Assessment.” Physiopedia, https://www.physio-pedia.com/Neurodynamic_Assessment.