10 Jan Low back pain
Low Back Pain is Common. Each year over 5 million people develop chronic pain with back pain alone causing an estimated loss to the economy of £12.3 billion a year. Chiropractic is recognised as a cost effective and evidence based approach to acute and chronic low back pain. Chiropractic also serves to assess and educate patients in management and prevention of postural, ergonomic and sporting injuries. Dietary and exercise advice provided at the clinic will also help to address the overall health state of the patient.
Lower back pain is a huge problem in today’s society with the majority of complaints being cause by lack of sufficient muscle control and lack of movement at joints that occurs over many years rather than acute injury or trauma.
This is why many people experience severe symptoms after apparently simple tasks such as stretching, picking up a pen or sneezing. The reason for this is that over many years, incorrect use of the spine leads to changes in the movement of joints and flexibility of ligaments. The subsequent change in mechanics that occurs affects the nerve control of the muscles in the area meaning that eventually they are not able to adapt to normal forces that occur in the spine and injury ensues.
The changes that occur in your spine can exist for a long time without you even being aware of it, just like having a high cholesterol level…you do not know until your doctor picks it up in a routine test or in the worst case heart and circulatory problems occur.
Chiropractic specialises in the identification of spinal areas of dysfunction (often even before any symptoms are felt) and by treating them helps the spine and is supporting muscles return to normal function.
In essence, what we as chiropractors look for and correct, are restrictions and misalignments in the spine.
Symptoms Can Vary
Despite the majority of pain within the lower back being caused by injury and inflammation to the joints and discs in the lower back, symptoms between individually can vary widely some symptoms commonly experienced with low back pain are described below.
- Generalised ache:
- Dull aching in the lower back is often due to a gradual loss of the motion in the joints of the lower back and subsequent tightening of the muscles in the lower back. This is normally a sign that there is an underlying problem in the back. If assessment and treatment is received at this stage future severe injury can normally be avoided. Many people put up with these symptoms only later they experience much more severe pain.
- Sharp/stabbing pain:
- A sharp stabbing pain in the back normally indicates injury and swelling to the joints or discs in the lower back. At this stage significant injury has often already occurred and assessment and treatment will initially be focussed on reducing your symptoms before concentrating on returning the spine to normal function and dealing with prevention of future injury.
- Pain on one side or in the buttocks:
- This is normally due to involvement of the sacroiliac joints/large joints either side of the base of the spine. It can also be caused by severe spasm of the gluteal/buttock musculature. The muscle often spasm when there is injury in the low back. This is because they offer a huge amount of support to the low back and pelvis.
- Pain in the leg:
- Contrary to popular thought not all leg pain is due to ‘sciatic’ irritation, in many cases leg pain is due to referred pain from the joints in the low back or even actual tightening of the leg muscles which are closely related to the flexibility of the lower back. Occasionally however, inflammation in the joints or discs (and rarely severe muscle spasm) can be sufficient to irritate the nerves in your low back which may result in leg pain.
- Pins and needles in the legs/feet:
- This set of symptoms normally means that there is significant irritation or compression to the nerves in your low back. This can occur for many reasons, commonly it is due to injury to the discs and joints of the lower back. It is important that if you are experiencing these symptoms you get you problem assessed as soon as possible.
There are some red flags that have been identified requiring emergency or urgent referral. If you are experiencing any of the following please take immediate action: saddle anaesthesia (numbness between your legs), recent onset of bladder dysfunction, recent onset of faecal incontinence, severe trauma, sudden onset of severe central pain, related symptoms of fever, unexplained weight loss or unrelenting night pain.
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