There are so many reasons for someone to have low back pain. Knowing the type of low back pain a person has is essential to creating the best care plan to efficiently help with recovery. These are the seven most common causes of low back pain:
The spinal cord and nerves exiting the spinal cord are extremely sensitive. Even slight compression or irritation can cause pain, tingling, numbness, burning pain, cramping, and weakness. Other nerve issues can include difficulty coordinating, like constantly stubbing your toe, urination problems, constipation, and even infertility.
Spinal cord compression can occur anywhere along the spine. The neck and low back are the most common areas since it can move the most, allowing you to turn your head, bend down, and walk. Since there is more mobility, there is also less protection and a higher chance of injury such as a car accident, fall, sports injury and even daily repetitive injury such as prolonged sitting can increase inflammation and irritation in the spine and nerves causing symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, or loss of function.
We use specific imaging such as X-Rays/CT/MRI, orthopedic tests, and analysis of nerves sensory and motor function to diagnose spinal compression. In our office, we have effectively helped to reduce back pain in many patients with spinal compression or irritation. Chiropractic adjustments increase motion in
2)Fatigued Erector Spinae Muscles
The erector spinae are a group of muscles that connect between each vertebrae and are responsible for stabilizing the spine. They assist with standing, breathing, twisting, extending, and bending the spine. When the erector spinae are weakened from prolonged hours of inactivity (think sitting at your desk for 6-10 hours/day) combined with poor posture, it lengthens and tightens the erector spinae muscles leading to a tight, stiff, achy back.
Although stretching the back when it is stiff often brings relief, it can lengthen the already overstretched erector spinae muscles and further continue the low back pain cycle. In our office, we provide an analysis of the musculature to determine which areas of the body need to be strengthened with corrective exercises and the areas that need to be released and relaxed. We have found that additional modalities such as IASTM along the paravertebral muscles can help facilitate healing by breaking up scar tissue and increasing blood circulation.
3)Tight Hip Flexors:
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that bring the leg up towards the torso such as with walking up stairs. This can occur with activities such as jogging, biking, or prolonged sitting because it shortens the hip flexor muscles. When the hip flexors are activated for long periods of time, the large muscle that counteracts it, the gluteus maximus, is inhibited or ‘turned off’. If uncorrected over time, the muscle imbalances from tight hip flexors cause the pelvis to be pulled forward putting a strain on the low back muscles, tendons, spine, and ligaments leading to low back pain.
The sciatic nerve is a large bundle of nerves that runs down through the pelvis and muscles into the leg. Pain occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated. People who experience sciatic pain can have:
-shooting pain front low back or buttocks into the thigh or feet
-constant burning pain along the low back, buttocks, and thigh
-numbness or tingling
– weakness of leg
Because the nerve runs through the pelvis and muscles along the leg, certain postures can put more pressure on the sciatica nerve increasing symptoms. The most common postures that aggravate sciatica are: sitting, standing up, bending forward, twisting the back, lying down, and coughing.
We check for structural causes of sciatica such as misalignments of the lumbar spinal vertebrae, dysfunctions of the sacroiliac joint, and tight piriformis muscles that can impinge the sciatic nerve. Taking pressure off the nerve and relaxing the surrounding muscles can help ease sciatic symptoms.
5)Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The ‘hip joints’ or sacroiliac joints serve as a sturdy foundation (think like the foundation of a building), to allow the rest of the spine to sit securely stacked on top. In certain cases, a misalignment of the sacroiliac joint can cause a twisting or slanting of the subsequent vertebrae starting from the bottom up (like in the case of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), contributing to back pain, poor posture, mild forms of scoliosis. The sacroiliac joints are made up of a variety of bony structures, tendons, ligaments, and joint spaces with many major structures such as the sciatic nerves, iliofemoral veins and arteries that pass through making it a highly important area of the body.
The sacroiliac joints are an area of the body that we frequently check for dysfunction due to it being composed of many different anatomical structures that work together to allow humans to walk, run, dance, etc. The sacroiliac joint is primarily affected by two mechanisms: either too much movement (instability/hypermobility) or too little movement (fixation/hypomobility) between the joints. This can cause low back or hip pain, stiffness, numbness, feeling of instability, and pain with walking or running. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is treated by a combination of strengthening exercises, relaxing stretches, and adjustments made to areas of the body that are lacking motion.
6)Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease(DDD) is essentially wear and tear of the discs in between the vertebrae over time from injuries, lifestyle habits, and excess physical activity (or inactivity). As we age, the discs naturally become thinner and flatter as it does its job of acting as a shock absorption or cushion in between the vertebrae.
Symptoms of Degenerative disc disease(DDD) may include: stiff back, back pain, loss of motion, radiating pain, pain that worsens with long periods of sitting, leg/foot or arm/hand weakness.
Although Degenerative disc disease may sound intimidating to a lot of people, our experience with it shows that it is highly manageable and many people find improvement and pain relief from conservative healthcare, lifestyle modifications, stretching, exercises, heating pads, and chiropractic adjustments.
The classic muscle and ligament sprain/strain case of low back pain is most commonly due to quick unanticipated movements such as a shift in body weight or position, lifting objects that were too heavy, or lifting with poor posture and techniques. For a majority of people, pain resolves on its own within a few days to a week.
However in certain cases, sudden movements and powerful forceful contractions from muscles and ligaments are strong enough to pull bones out of alignment. This can result in higher levels of pain and an impact to the structural integrity of the musculoskeletal system leading to an increased frequency of back pain from sprains/strains.
With repeated sprains/strains or chronic low back pain, we often check for an underlying cause of weakened physical conditioning, poor proprioception, misalignments in the musculoskeletal system, and improper lifting techniques. It is important to strengthen and rehabilitate the musculoskeletal system to decrease pain and prevent further injury.