5 Common Causes of Low Back Pain
It is estimated that about 80% of the adult population at some point in their life suffer from low back pain. It is the most common cause of lost work time and work related disability. Both men and women suffer equally from low back pain with pain ranging from a mild dull stiffness to sudden excruciating pain that affects the ability stand or walk. The good news about this low back pain is that in the vast majority of cases, chiropractic care can help!
The Low Back Structure
Before explaining the common causes of low back pain, a minimal understanding of the structure of the low back is helpful. The low back consists of 5 spinal bones, called vertebra, that are stacked on top of the sacrum, which along with two hip bones (called ilium’s) make up the pelvis. Between each of the vertebra is a tough fibrous structure called an intervertebral disc that acts like a shock absorber, providing cushioning to the vertebra when they move
Connecting each vertebra to the one above and below it is two small joints called facet joints. These joints are surrounded by a very sensitive capsule and they are responsible for the normal range of motion of the low back. A network of tough leather like bands of tissue known as ligaments overlay the vertebra and hold them tightly together. On top of the ligaments are a series of layers of muscles and their purpose is to move and support the low back structure.
Causes of Low Back Pain
The reason we discussed the basic structure of the low back is because most low back pain is mechanical in nature and involves discs, ligaments or facet joints. By mechanical we mean there is faulty alignment, movement or function of the mentions structures.
Segmental Dysfunction is a one of the more common conditions of low back pain and is commonly diagnosed by chiropractors. A segmental dysfunction happens when one of the spinal bones (vertebra) is not moving correctly in relationship to the adjacent spinal bones. This abnormal motion can result in increased pressure or irritation of the affected joints, disc or ligaments which then produces pain. Left untreated, the increased stress can result in abnormal wear and tear of the joints and earlier degenerative changes leading to arthritis.
Strains or Sprains
Strains or sprains are a common cause of acute back pain. Strains are when a muscle has been overloaded and “pulled.” A sprain is when a ligament has been overloaded and stretched. Both occur when a large force suddenly overwhelms the tissue, causing it to stretch beyond it’s normal ability.
As mentioned when discussing the back structure, the facet joints are two small joints connecting the bones of the spine. These joints are responsible for the normal range of motion of the spine. Facet syndrome is when the capsule surrounding these joints becomes inflamed or the surface of the joint becomes damage. Typical causes of facet syndrome include trauma such as auto accidents or sports injury, or the slow degenerative process of arthritis. The pain of a facet syndrome can be excruciating at time and in some cases can mimic a disc issue or sciatica.
A herniated disc happens when there are small tears in the fibers of the disc, allowing the “jelly like” center of the disc to squeeze out of the disc. There are various stages of a herniated disc, thankfully, most do not require surgery and respond well to conservative chiropractic care.
A degenerative intervertebral disc is one of the common mechanical causes of low back pain. When the disc between each vertebra becomes unhealthy and loses it’s normal height, it loses it’s normal cushioning ability. This loss of cushion then places greater stress on the joints and ligaments when normal motion is attempted. Over time, this causes irritation and inflammation of the joints, which leads to low back pain.
Segmental dysfunction, facet syndrome and disc issues are probably the most common reason for back pain. There are other areas of pain that can be associated with these conditions, such as sciatica, or spinal stenosis, but they are typically caused by these five conditions.
The good news chiropractic care has been demonstrated to be one of the most effective forms of treatment for these conditions. Conservative chiropractic care seeks to restore the normal functioning of the spinal joints without the use of drugs and their dangerous side affects as well as without risky surgery.
Further, since starting practice in 1984, we have seen countless numbers of patients suffering from these common causes of low back pain respond to our care. There is no greater professional satisfaction than to see someone’s quality of life restored!
If you are suffering from low back pain, you owe it to yourself to find out why. Call our office today for an appointment: (314) 731-4383. There is no reason to continue to suffer!