A staggering number — as many as 80 percent — of adults have had lower back pain at one time or another during their life. While they say misery loves company, this is not the kind of misery you want to be in. Back pain is the number one reason for job-related disability. It is a major reason for people to miss work. In a recent survey including a large number of people, more than one-quarter of adults noted that they have experienced low back pain in the three months before the survey was done.
Back pain does not affect one gender more than the other; men and women are affected equally. The pain can range from a mild, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation leaving you feeling incapacitated. Pain may begin suddenly, especially if you were in an accident or injured, or it may come on more slowly over time because of age-related changes in the spine. In many cases, a sedentary lifestyle can be to blame for back pain. This is particularly true when you do not find time to exercise all week but on the weekends try to do a strenuous workout to make up for it. This can easily lead to problems with the lower back.
Types of Low Back Pain
- Acute: In the majority of cases, low back pain is short-term or acute. This means it only lasts for a few days or weeks. Rest and self-care can help you begin to see relief. Most low back pain is mechanical in nature. This means that there is a disruption in the way the mechanisms of the back — muscles, discs, nerves, and the spine — fit together and move.
- Subacute: This is pain that lasts anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks.
- Chronic: This is pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks even after being cared for properly. Approximately, 20 percent of people with acute low back pain will go on to have chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms at the one-year point. Pain may respond well to care in some cases, but in others, it may continue and even require surgery.
Back Pain and the Mechanics of the Back
To better understand back pain, it is important to understand what the back is made up of. The majority of the pain occurs in the lower back or the lumbar region consisting of five vertebrae, L1 to L5. These bones support much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces in between the vertebrae have round, rubbery pads called the intervertebral discs, and these act as shock absorbers to the spinal column. They cushion the bones as the body moves about. Tendons are responsible for attaching the muscles to the spinal column and ligaments hold the vertebrae in place. The spinal cord has 31 pairs of nerves that are rooted in it and are responsible for controlling body movements and sending signals to the brain about what the body is doing.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
In a lot of cases, low back pain is due to spondylosis (the degeneration of the spine over time due to normal wear and tear of the joints, bones, and discs of the spine as people age). Here are some examples of lower back pain causes:
- Herniated or ruptured discs: This happens when intervertebral discs become compressed and bulge outward (herniate) or rupture, leading to back pain.
- Sciatica: This condition is due to the compression of the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that travels through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. It causes a burning or shock-like pain in the low back traveling through the buttocks and down usually only one leg, sometimes going as far as the foot. If your case is severe, it may mean that your nerve is pinched in between the disc and the nearby bone, and you may experience numbness and weakness along with your pain due to the nerve signaling being interrupted.
- Sprains and strains: Making up most acute back pain, sprains are caused by tearing or overstretching ligaments, while strains are tears in muscles and tendons. This can happen if you lift something too heavy, lift improperly, or overstretch. You may also have back spasms, and these are extremely painful.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration: One of the most common mechanical reasons for low back pain, disc degeneration happens when the rubbery discs of the back lose their integrity and, therefore, their cushioning ability due to aging.
- Skeletal irregularities: Such things as scoliosis (curvature of the spine), lordosis (an overarched back), and other congenital abnormalities can lead to back pain.
- Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal column resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and nerves is called spinal stenosis.
- A trauma or injury: Sporting accidents, whiplash, or trips and falls can cause parts of the spine to move out of alignment and lead to back pain.
Back Pain Relief Edmonton AB
Finding Relief from Back Pain
Here at Providence Chiropractic in Edmonton, AB, we focus on making sure the top bones of the neck are in proper alignment. How does this help with pain in the lower back? Well, the spine is intricately connected together, and if one part of it is out of place, the other parts are negatively affected. Much like a set of dominoes line up one after the other, if one falls, the rest are affected.
We use a gentle method that helps the bones to realign without adding further stress to the spine. We are not required to pop the neck or crack the back to get positive results. Natural alignment of the bones takes place, leading to a longer-lasting adjustment. Many people report positive results in only a few visits.