Back pain affects 8 out 10 adults in the United States. It is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office other than cold and flu. Lower back pain is also the most common cause of job related claims and is the leading contributor to missed days at work. It is likely that at some time in your life you will experience a bout of lower back pain. With the exception of trauma sustained in a fall or motor vehicle accident, lower back pain is seldom the result of one injury and is usually the result of the accumulation of months or years of poor posture, faulty body mechanics, stressful living and work habits, loss of flexibility, and a lack of physical fitness. This can lead to one or more of the common causes of lower back pain.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Some of the most common causes include:
- Early Arthritis- the daily forces from lifting, bending and twisting can wear on our backs. If you are not active, the weaker muscles make you more vulnerable to these forces and can lead to early arthritis.
- Disc Problems- sitting for long periods of time can take its toll on our backs. The discs are the shock absorbers of the spine and the pressure that is generated in the discs from excessive sitting causes the discs to wear out and bulge.
- Sprains/Strains- early arthritis, disc problems, poor posture, and joint stiffness can make you more likely to suffer a muscle strain or joint sprain. Even if you are active, you can still suffer from muscle guarding and spasms.
- Car Accident/Trauma- injuries sustained in a car accident or fall can stay with you for years. Sometimes the pain and problems can resurface later. It’s important to take accidents and trauma seriously and get complete treatment to avoid further problems.
What to Do If You Have Lower Back Pain
Your best course of action will depend on the severity of the pain and what caused it. Significant evidence shows that passive treatments such as bed rest, medication, and heat have limited value in treating back problems. We now know that the restriction of harmful movement and the right exercises combined with hands on techniques can make all the difference. If the pain is:
- Mild- there is no trauma or injury, the pain started for no reason and is getting better. You may have just over-done it and is nothing to worry about. Make sure to take frequent breaks from sitting and start light exercise of 1-2 times a week for at least 15 minutes such as walking. You may also want to consider getting a new bed.
- Medium- there has been an injury, the pain is not getting better, and it interferes with your ability to work, sleep, or play then you should be concerned. Do not lift more than 30 pounds, don’t twist while carrying things in your arms, take frequent breaks from sitting, and avoid anything that seems to aggravate the pain. If you haven’t sought medical advice, then you should call us or see your doctor. Your condition needs treatment.
- Severe- the pain will not go away and interferes with work, sleep, and play then your body is trying to tell you something is wrong. Do not lift or attempt to lift objects off the floor, avoid any twisting or bending and do not hold your breath while lifting or going to the bathroom. Call us or see your doctor immediately.
- No Pain, but weakness with trouble moving and numbness/tingling, difficulty with bowel/bladder control then your problem may be quite serious. You should call us or see your doctor immediately.
Lower back pain can be effectively treated by using hands on techniques with active exercise. Be wary of clinics that offer only passive treatments such as bed rest, medication, electrical stimulation, heat and ultrasound as these type of treatments do not address the root cause of the problem and merely cover up the symptoms only to have the pain return within a few hours. Our therapists are trained in identifying the root cause of your condition and providing effective relief that lasts.