Back pain is more common than one may think. It is estimated that 80% of all adults will experience back pain some time in their life. Some will struggle with persistent lower back pain for the rest of their life.
Lower back pain is the number one disability when it comes to work. Many American’s jobs entail the employee to sit most of the day.
Understanding the risk factors and doing exercises can reduce your probabilities of acquiring lower back pain.
A Little Lesson on Anatomy
Understanding the anatomy of the human body will help you eliminate some of the exacerbating factors. This will improve your quality of life and activities of daily living with less worry of re-injury.
The cushion in between each of your vertebrae is known as the disc. Discs help with movement but also act as a cushion for your body weight. Discs can become injured. They can tear, bulge and even rupture. Sometimes a bulging disc/herniated disc can cause sciatic. This irritation causes pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. (webmd) http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/living-with-low-back-pain-11/causes?page=2
Strategies to prevent back pain (disc):
- Avoid sitting as much as possible. If your disc is injured, you will notice sitting increases the pain two fold. Many jobs these days include sitting for many hours. They wonder why lower back pain is number one for work disability.
- Proper lifting at all times. People believe you have to lift something heavy to injure a disc, this is misnomer. You can bend over and pick up a pen and injure your disc just as easily. If you ever observed a baby picking up a ball, the baby sticks his behind way out and then bends at its legs before lifting. Children can teach us more than you know.
- Do exercises that strengthen your core. Planking is an excellent exercise for core strengthening. Ask your Chiropractor for different variations of core exercises.
- If you injured your disc, consult your Chiropractor immediately for diagnosis and treatment options.
Facet joints are two joints on the backside of your vertebral body. The have fluid filled capsules that help with movement and stabilize the joint to prevent excessive movement. Facet joints can become injured and swollen. They have nerves that can become hypersensitive if irritated.
Examples of facet joint problems:
- A pregnant woman’s lower back pain. An increase in the lower back arch puts pressure on these joints.
- Pain while leaning backwards.
- Crick in the neck or lower back.
- Osteoarthritis happens in these joints if constantly put under stress.
Strategies to prevent back pain (facet joint):
- Avoid anything that can increase the arch in your lower back.
- Avoid sleeping on stomach.
- Wearing high heels for long periods.
- Core strengthening exercises.
- Your Chiropractor can show you very specific back flattening exercises to take the stress off your facets.
- If you injure your facets consult with your Chiropractor for diagnosis and treatment options.
Muscle overuse and fatigue is the most common of all back pain causes. Pain and stiffness are the usual symptoms. This type of back pain will usually subside in three or 4 days as long as it wasn’t a traumatic injury.
Strategies to prevent back pain (muscle pain and stiffness):
- Regular exercise to strengthen muscles and maintain healthy body weight.
- Increase your flexibility. Regular stretching regimen, yoga and Pilates all increase flexibility and core strength. If you cannot touch your toes you better start stretching. Continue stretching as you get older. Make it a habit.
- Notice your posture. Whether you’re standing or sitting proper posture decreases muscle fatigue.
- Chiropractic care keeps your spine flexible.
- Massage therapy.
- Moist heat like a hot shower will loosen muscles and decrease the stiffness
There are many other types of back pain I could list. For this article I just listed the most common that people suffer from.
If you do become injured, always ice the affected area 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off to reduce inflammation. Repeat after an hour.
Minor muscle strains should resolve in 3 or 4 days with each day improving.
If the pain is moderate to severe, not improving after a few days or radiates, contact your Chiropractor for an evaluation.
Christopher Lewis, D.C.