How To Get Rid Of Your Low Back Pain
Low pain pain is something about 80% of the population deals with at some point in life. And once you have experienced back pain once, you're more likely to suffer from it again.
What if I told you, it doesn't have to be this way?
That's right! You can work to prevent ever getting back pain. And if you already have it, you can help reduce the intensity and how often you feel it! In this article we are going to discuss possible reasons why you may have low back pain, and what you can do to possibly get rid of it.
First things first, let's talk about how the low back is supposed to work. It is the lumbar spine we are discussing, the lower part of the spine, and it is supposed to have a natural curve called a lordosis. This curve helps gravity and weight forces to be distributed properly. It also gives you the ability to bend, twist and move. If this natural curve goes outside its optimal (either too straight or too curved) the discs, muscles and ligaments are stressed as they try and compensate.
So what are some conditions that can be causing your low back pain?
Strains are muscle injuries, where sprains are damage to the ligaments. They are very similar in pain patterns, and typically happen together. With pain and injury comes changed movement patterns, leading to possible instability and ongoing chronic pain. This diagnosis can happen with things like overexertion, falls, poor movement biomechanics, poor posture or heavy lifting. You can feel pain when you are trying to use the affected muscle/ligament.
If you look at the list of causes, you can see that most of them can be prevented ahead of time. Working on pain reduction can be the first thing if the pain is already present. If not, or once the pain is manageable, the goal is to address weak or tight muscles, change ergonomics to have ideal posture and overall increased functional ability.
This is a narrowing of the spinal canal where the cord travels. This causes compression of the spinal cord, and the result can be pain, numbness, tingling, and radiating type symptoms. Most of the time, this is a degenerative change with age, but other causes can include disc herniation, osteoporosis, or a possible tumour.
Degeneration is a part of life, we all experience it. But what we can do is work to prevent the changes and stave them off as long as possible. Some ways we can do that is proper lifting techniques, working for healthy bones, and learning optimal movement patterns to avoid early degeneration.
Lumbar Disc Disorders
There are 5 vertebrae in the lumbar spine, and in-between each is the disc. These are shock absorbers, consisiting of a tough outer ring called the annulus fibrous, and a nice jelly centre, the nucleus pulpous. Think jelly doughnut, that's my favourite analogy for the discs. There are many ligaments around the discs and between vertebrae to help support the spine.
Again, as we age, there is a possibility of disc degeneration. The discs have a harder time holding onto fluid, and can start to dry out and compress (this is why we can shrink a little as we age!). As this happens, structural changes around the disc occur to compensate, and we can get something called a bulging or herniated disc. This is when the inner jelly substance starts to push out, sometimes every breaking through that tough outer ring in more extreme cases.
When this happens, we can get compression of nerves, as well as inflammation througout the area affected. Depending on the location, symptoms like sciatica, weakness and numbness can happen along with low back. Good news, chiropractic can be extremely helpful in these cases! Keep in mind every case is different, but conservative care has been shown to be very helpful in cases of disc herniation.
Facets are the joints between each vertebrate. Most of when we see this it is in the neck, but it can absolutely happen in the low back as well. These joints give us a lot of our rotational movements, and limit our side bending ability.
Pain with this may be the worse when your transition from sitting to standing, or when you bend over and try to stand back up straight. Causes can include excessive weight, overuse, motor vehicle accidents, arthritis and prolonged sitting.
The goal when treating facet pain is working to reduce inflammation, and to work on the positions that put stress on the facets with ergonomics, posture training and exercise.
Lower Crossed Syndrome
This one is a favourite of mine to treat, so many people have this. This is a postural syndrome. What that means is there are certain muscles that are too tight, and certain muscles that are not activating properly, putting undue stress on structures and eventually causing pain.
In Lower Cross, we see abdominal muscles and the gluteal muscles not activating properly, while the spinal erectors and hip flexors are very tight. This pulls the pelvis into an anterior tilt, and causes a hyperlordosis, or an excessive low back curve. This puts a lot of extra stress on ligaments and joints, and can lead to early degeneration.
Treatment for this is more long term, working on muscle activation and muscle lengthening, as well as learning the posture your body prefers to be in!
What are some things you can try at home? Keep reading!
Sternum Up- Keeping the sternum up automatically sets the body into the good posture and maintains a Neutral Spine (Maintaining good spinal alignment decreases the stress placed on the spine and discs).
Going from Sit-to-Stand
· Start in a seated position at the edge of your chair with your feet under your thighs before sitting up
· To initiate movement begin upward movement by using your hips and knees
· To avoid strain to your back, keep your torso upright when rising from the chair.
Picking up a bag of the ground
· When picking up a bag from the ground, bend from the hips and knees.
· Make sure to keep the back flat and keep lower back’s natural curve by keeping it curved forward while bending.
· When lifting, initiate the movement by keeping the back flat while extending with the hips, and tightening the glutes.
Brushing your teeth
· Keep your chest upright while brushing the teeth.
· When you bend forward to rinse your brush or mouth bend from the hips, not from the waist.
· Keep your chest lifted while you bend forward.
Picking objects from ground
· When lowering to pick up the object, bend from the knees and keep your chest lifted.
· When lifting keep your spine upright by hinging from the hips and knees.
· If the object is not directly in front of you, it is important to keep your chest lifted in front of you while keeping your lower back’s natural curve.
· Avoid lifting immediately after sitting for a prolonged period.
Corrective exercises are an important part of low back treatment. It is important to have an assessment done so we can come up with the best plan for you, as well as go through the exercises together!
Want to work to prevent that low back pain? Or to finally get rid of that pain you have already been living with? Book an assessment with me today! www.mph-health.com