Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain

What Causes Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is the number one reason people worldwide visit their doctor and miss work. If you've dealt with it in the past (or maybe even right now), you know back pain can change your life in an instant. Not being able to enjoy hobbies, difficulty in your ability to work, and a sneaking suspicion that you may never get "back to normal" are all normal when you're experiencing a bout of back pain. So why do so many people struggle with back pain?

Why it Matters:

In many cases, your daily habits are a big contributor to your back pain. Repetitive stress, nagging injuries, a diet filled with inflammatory foods, and a lack of daily exercise and movement can contribute to an increased likelihood of back pain. Here are the three most common causes of back pain.

  • Sprain/Strain Injury: Repetitive stress can create inflammation and lead to sprain/strain injuries
  • Spinal Disc Issues: Disc bulges and herniations can cause back pain that travels by pressing on your spinal nerves
  • Arthritis: As you get older, your body will go through degenerative changes, but if your spinal joints get inflamed, you may notice pain associated with arthritis

For over 80% of us, back pain will be something we deal with at some point in our lives. And while it may feel like you'll never get back to your old self, chances are you will. An overwhelming majority of people recover from back pain naturally or with a little additional help from a chiropractor. Even if you recover by taking it easy for a few days, it's still a smart decision to visit a chiropractor to discover the specific steps you can take to reduce your chances of experiencing back pain in the future.

How to Move Your Way to Back Pain Relief

Movement is one of the best ways to recover from back pain. Science has shown us that medications and rest are a few of the least effective ways to find relief. Your body is designed to move, and often it's a lack of daily movement (or chronic postural changes) that causes back pain to begin in the first place. Discovering the right movements and exercises can help you recover more quickly and prevent future back pain episodes.

Why it Matters:

Your body has three types of movements: Segmental, regional, and whole body. Segmental motion occurs between the individual joints of your body. Regional movement occurs in a body region such as your neck, mid-back, or low back. And whole-body movement is typically what we think of as exercise. All three types are essential and work together to keep your spine and musculoskeletal system healthy and functioning at its best.

  • Segmental Movement: moving the individual joints of your body is what chiropractors are specifically trained to do. Proper segmental movement can help reduce pain, improve your range of motion, and influence your central nervous system
  • Regional Movement: dynamic stretching with regional range of motion exercises can reduce low back stiffness
  • Whole Body Exercise: daily whole-body exercise can help your brain and body feel better as well as improve your rest and recovery at night

The foundation of all movement is segmental. If your joints aren't moving correctly, then you'll never be able to optimize your regional or whole-body movement. Moving may be the last thing you want to do if you're struggling with back pain. But top research organizations have proven that proper movement and exercise are two of the best ways to find relief from back pain. If you've dealt with back pain, call us today. Our team will be happy to provide you with a complete movement assessment and personalized movement and exercise plan to help you get (and stay) well for years to come.

Is My Leg Pain Coming from My Back?

It may seem weird to think that leg, calf, or foot pain can often be traced back to a low back problem. But if you've had pain in your leg or foot, a pinched nerve in your low back may be creating your issue. Pain that travels along a spinal nerve is called radicular pain, and it's one of the most common types of pain that occurs as a result of spinal nerve compression.

Why it Matters:

Your spinal nerves can be pinched or compressed by bone, disc, or ligament. Facet hypertrophy or bone spurs sometimes grow large enough to pinch your spinal nerves. Disc herniations or bulges can invade the space of your nerves and cause narrowing of the canals. And ligament hypertrophy can happen with age and injuries and ultimately cause your nerves to get squeezed. Whether your pain is coming from bone, disc, or ligament, it's important to know that all have a great chance of recovery without the need for drugs or surgery.

  • Bone Spurs- bone spurs or osteophytes form due to joint damage associated with osteoarthritis
  • Disc Herniations- disc bulges, herniations, or tears can cause inflammation and pressure on your spinal nerves
  • Ligament Hypertrophy- ligamentum flavum hypertrophy or overgrowth happens due to biomechanical stress and aging

Leg pain that begins in your low back can start with an injury or for what seems like no reason at all. Either way, your body is telling you to Pay Attention Inside Now! Every day our practice helps people regain their quality of life from compressed nerves. Reducing inflammation, establishing proper motion to your joints, and taking proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of the pain coming back are all part of our care plans. If you've felt leg pain- give us a call today.

Why Medications Aren't Recommended for Low Back Pain

A staggering 100,000 people each year are hospitalized due to NSAIDs. Just because these medications can be purchased over the counter doesn't mean that they don't have risks and dangers. Leading healthcare organizations have taken note and now recommend that movement-based care options, such as chiropractic, are explored for most low back issues before any medications. The added benefit is that most people who explore chiropractic care take far fewer medications than those who don't. Why? Because it works.

Why it Matters:

Over the past twenty years, we've seen the effects of low back pain change our healthcare landscape forever. The numbers of people with low back pain have remained the same even as we've lost millions to the opioid epidemic and hundreds of thousands more due to complications from NSAIDs. The good news is that major healthcare organizations have updated their guidelines, and the care that chiropractors deliver ranks at the top of nearly every list.

  • Over 100,000 people are hospitalized each year from NSAID related complications
  • Each day, over 100 people pass away due to Opioid overdoses
  • Leading healthcare organizations now recommend the care delivered by chiropractors as the best first-line treatment for low back pain

Medications are designed to mask the pain, not fix the problem. Receiving a complete and comprehensive evaluation is the first step towards finding relief. After discovering the cause of your pain, we can work together to craft a care plan that will help you reach your health goals. If you know someone struggling with low back pain, call us today.

Science Source:

Mayo Clinic. Back Pain Symptoms and Causes. 2020

Harvard Health Publishing. 5 Steps to a Pain-Free Back. 2016

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Radiculopathy. 2021

Annals of Internal Medicine. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. 2017

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  1. Dr. Alys Smith provides quality chiropractic care to patients in the Downtown Seattle and surrounding areas. If you suffer from back pain, neck pain, headache, sciatica or have been in an auto collision, Dr. Alys Smith can get you back on the road to health.