Low back pain is extremely prevalent in our society. Chances are that if you haven’t had a debilitating episode of low back pain throughout your life, someone you know has had one. A 2006 study from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, states that low back pain is the second most common cause for people seeking medical care, second only to the common cold. And unfortunately, medical doctors can’t do much for low back pain, except prescribe some pain pills, muscle relaxers, or steroids. While these pills can be effective at reducing pain, they do nothing to treat the cause of low back pain, or speed up the healing time.
Medical doctors are very good at what they do. If you have a sickness or disease, they are the ones to see. But if you are suffering from low back pain, even if it is debilitating, you are better off seeing someone who can treat the musculoskeletal system, which is where most low back pain comes from. Chiropractors specialize in treating joints, and the musculoskeletal system. Most chiropractors do some type of muscle work along with adjusting. I feel that doing some type of muscle work is essential to getting the joints to balance out and move the way they were designed to. I prefer Nimmo, which is what I practice, but there are many other effective forms.
Most low back pain is a long time in coming. Usually it is a buildup of years of doing something repetitively, causing muscles in the affected area to get tighter and tighter over time. Everyone has repetitive issues in thier life, whether it is sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, or working on an assembly line, or carrying kids and laundry all day long. Either way, these repetitive motions cause the muscles to get tighter and tighter over time until they tear on a microscopic level. When this happens, the rest of the muscle belly reflexively contracts to prevent further tearing. The muscle contracts so hard that it establishes a neurological pathway between the muscle and the spinal cord, called a reflex arch, which will keep the muscle, or muscles, in a pattern of spasm and inflammation for weeks to months or even years. Once these pathways are established, it is very easy for the muscles to fall back into these patterns over and over again. Which explains why the most common cause of low back pain is having had a flairup of low back pain in the past. If you have had low back pain before, you will have it again.
You can also get low back pain from a trauma, like a car accident or falling, or something else along those lines, but the mechanism is the same. Instead of the muscle slowly tightening up over time until it tears, in a trauma the muscle tears from the traumatic event. It is my opinion that when these torn and inflammed muscles pull on joints and cause the joints to move differently, this is what causes a subluxation or joint restriction. If you have seen a chiropractor, chances are you have heard one of these phrases before. It is also my opinion that if let go, these muscular imbalances will, over time, cause the joints to wear differently then how they were designed to, and eventually lead to osteo-arthritis in the affected area.
When you are suffering from an acute flairup of low back pain, the best practicioner to see is a chiropractor, especially one that does some muscle work like Nimmo. A chiropractor can reduce pain and restore proper function, and get the muscles out of these patterns of spasm and inflammation. This will prime you for physical therapy, so you can then stregthen up the affected area. Do not see a phyiscal therapist first, because if you try to strengthen up an irritated and inflammed area, you will only reinforce the imbalance and make it harder to get the muscles out of these patterns.
Prevention when dealing with low back pain is key. If you can stretch out overused muscles before they get so tight that they tear and cause pain and joint imbalances, you can prevent them from getting to that point. It is also essential to do some core stregthening exercises. These exercises will stabilize your low back and give you more endurance to last throughout the day. If you have osteo-arthitis or stenosis or a spondylolisthesis or any orther type of structural low back or hip issues, core stregthening will stabilize that area. This will prevent it from getting irritated so easily, and can actually decrease the progression of arthritis. So 10 years down the road you won’t be worse off. You can’t get rid of these structural issues, but you can decrease the progression of them, and you can decrease the flairups associated with these issues.
So take care of yourself. You have to perform maintenence on your car, you have to do maintenence on your teeth, and you have to do maintenence on your body and musculoskeletal system. Your back will be much better off, and you’ll be much happier.