Most often we see back pain as the result from mechanical injury. What does that mean? It could mean you have held one position (sitting at a desk or standing at a work station) for too long. These static positions can over load the spine. It could mean you’ve performed a task with poor ergonomics. Leaning forward to vacuum or shovel increases the work on the low back (in physics that’s called a long lever), twisting or even the bending that occurs during sitting can increase the pressure on discs.
The pain could come from simply overusing a part of the body in an otherwise normal way, like a muscle strain.
In some cases it could mean the pain is coming from an injured or damaged structure, like a herniated disc.
Combined, all the mechanical related causes may account for more than 85% of back pain cases.
What Can I expect with Back Pain?
As the name suggests, many people experience pain in the low back as their biggest complaint. It can show up anywhere from the bottom of the rib cage to the buttocks. Some people experience more pain in their legs than in their back. Back pains can be constant or intermittent. Some people feel worse when they bend or sit. Other people feel worse when they stand, walk or reach overhead.
If you experience back pain for more than just a few days, consult your chiropractor for an assessment. A careful evaluation from your healthcare provider will help determine if you suffer from mechanical back pain. Using as many descriptions as possible about your back pain symptoms will help in the management of your case.
Most cases of low back pain do not require urgent attention but seek immediate care if you experience any of the following: fever, losing weight without trying, weakness in your feet or leg causing you to stumble, or loss of bowel or bladder control.
What Causes Back Pain?
The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. It could be damage from overdoing it, strain from bad form or posture, or weakness from deconditioning or a sedentary lifestyle. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking up a pencil from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Guesswork won’t work, and neither will one strategy for every problem.
I usually just ignore it…
When your back hurts, many other aspects of your life may suffer too. You might find yourself drained of energy, or passing on your favorite activities. When routine activities are affected you most certainly have a problem. Low back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of lost work time, and is the most common reason for inability to perform daily tasks. How would you cope if you felt like you couldn’t bend over a sink to wash dishes or brush teeth, if you couldn’t stand to get out of your car or up from your work chair?
Doesn’t everyone get Back Pain?
Low back pain affects over 80% of the population at some point in their life. It is most common in people aged 45 to 64. Pain of any kind, at any age, is a warning. Pain is your body’s way to protect you when a limit has been reached or a problem has developed.
Work is the pain in my back.
Even if you are not sore, you may be overworking your back and headed to injury. No matter how you spend your day, these are commonly used strategies to try when staying back-healthy is your goal:
- Be posture conscious. Sitting, standing or even laying down – aim to keep the centre of your ear over the centre of your shoulder and hip.
- Take frequent ‘mini’ breaks to stretch or change your position.
- Practice safe lifting techniques. Bend with your knees, lift with your legs. Hold objects close to your body, and don’t overload.
- Keep fit. A little bit of work on the appropriate back supporting muscles can make a big difference.
How Chiropractic can help
Patients suited for care will receive an individualized plan of management. Depending on the findings of the history and patient examination, treatment options may include:
- Patient education and reassurance
- Chiropractic spinal manipulation (also called adjustments)
- Soft tissue therapy (e.g. muscles)
- Rehabilitation and exercises
- Posture, ergonomic and lifestyle changes
- Referral and/or co-management
Bed rest is best?
Activity to tolerance often helps people achieve better results when trying to recover from back pain. It is important to reduce normal activity levels, but remain as active as possible. Resting means cutting back, don’t exert yourself; not a day on the sofa.
Chiropractic Care for Back Problems
Chiropractic spinal manipulation (adjustments) is a safe and effective back pain treatment. It can reduce pain and advances physical recovery.
In fact, after an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research—a federal government research organization—recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.
A patient information article published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association also suggested chiropractic care as an option for people suffering from low back pain–and noted that surgery is usually not needed and should only be tried if other therapies fail.
What can I do?
Lifestyle factors can play a big role in back pain. That’s good news because lifestyle factors are considered modifiable.
- Obesity can be associated with low back pain and even osteoarthritis. Obesity can make your episode of back pain worse. Maintain your weight in a healthy range.
- Smoking can be associated with low back pain, or can make your episode of back pain worse. As if you needed another good reason to quit.
- Overall fitness can help you recover from back pain episodes. If you have missed work from low back pain disability, overall fitness can help your return.
- Not sure how to improve your posture or change your ergonomics, ask your chiropractor today.
I like to move it.
Exercise can benefit many types of pain, from arthritis to low back pain. A pain-reduction exercise program should include both flexibility and strength training. This will help to both better distribute your body’s physical workload, and to make sure it is strong enough to handle the workload.