Low Back Pain: Don’t Accept Being Another Statistic
Have you ever put in a long day of work out in the yard and woke up the next day not being able to roll out of bed due to sharp, grabbing pains in the low back? Maybe your low back pain began after being rear-ended at a traffic light because the driver behind you was texting. Or possibly, you are the person who has been dealing with chronic aches and pains in the low back for 20 years dating back to issues that started in high school. No matter what the cause or whether it is acute or chronic in nature, chances are that low back pain will (unfortunately) strike at some point in your life. Researchers estimate that nearly 75-85% of the American population will suffer from some form of back pain in their lifetime. In fact, 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given point.
The lower back, where most back pain occurs, is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. It includes five bony vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture discs, irritate joints, and impinge nerves, all of which can lead to back pain. When nerve roots in the low back that join to form the sciatic nerve are involved, people may also experience sciatica symptoms such as pain into the buttocks, to the hip, or down the leg. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements can have painful results too. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Most cases of back pain are what we call mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer. However, in a small percentage of cases, low back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots, or bone loss.
Do Not Accept Low Back Pain as Part of Life!
Although low back pain has become a common condition in our society today, we should understand how it affects us and why it really matters. Just because it has become a common ailment does not mean that we should accept it as a normal part of life. Low back pain is more than just discomfort; it can be debilitating and have a huge impact on our quality of life. Almost 40% of individuals surveyed indicated that low back pain negatively affected their ability to perform necessary daily activities. Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and the second leading reason for missed days of work (behind the common cold). It is also a major cause of decreased productivity at work. This is a problem because this is when low back pain starts to affect people’s livelihood. Not many people can afford to miss work or perform inefficiently for very long. Individuals surveyed also indicated that low back pain interfered with activities like exercise and sleep. These are major lifestyle factors that can impact a person’s overall health!
In addition to the negative effects of low back pain on health and quality of life, there are also large economic costs that are associated with low back pain. Annually, $50 billion are spent on treatments for low back pain in America. While the direct costs for treatment are huge, the indirect costs are even more astronomical. It is estimated that $100 billion are spent on indirect costs of back pain. Indirect costs include not only lost wages and productivity, but also legal and insurance overheads and the impact on family.
A final reason why low back pain should be taken seriously comes from a very interesting 2004 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It used MRI scans to look at the brains of people with and without chronic back pain. Chronic back pain sufferers had smaller brains, and the volume loss was equivalent to the volume lost during 10-20 years of normal aging! So, if you don’t care about a reduction in quality of life or the economic burden of low back pain, then address your aches and pains for your brain, that little organ running all the functions in your body. The best part is that there are actions you can take, and we can help!
Do Not Live with the Burden of Low Back Pain
At 8 Weeks to Wellness, we believe that people are not meant to live with the burden of low back pain. If you do not suffer from pain, then that’s great, and there are things you can do proactively to keep any pain away. If you do have pain, then it is important to remember that pain is just an effect of some underlying cause. Thankfully, our office specializes in finding the root cause so we can correct the issue and provide relief and better function long-term instead of just temporarily. For patients dealing with low back pain, that often begins with chiropractic care, but we offer other services that also help solve potential underlying causes.
- Chiropractic:-Our chiropractors are interested in optimizing the structure and function of the spine. Proper alignment of the spine allows for less pressure on the discs, and it eases the tension on muscles, tendons and ligaments. When the spine is aligned and moving well, it also allows the nerves to function correctly. Communication from the brain to the body is essential to allow the body to decrease pain signals and heal better!
- Posture Prep and Fitness: A specific posture rehabilitation program and overall fitness regimen is vital. More than half of Americans who experience low back pain spend most of their workday sitting. Poor posture, slouching, sitting, and being overweight are all factors that increase the likelihood of low back pain. We have a muscle called the transverse abdominis, which should act like a built-in back brace providing stability to the low back. However, unfortunately due to lifestyle factors and inactivity, it becomes deconditioned and cannot help to provide support. Becoming more fit and working on specific postural deficits can be very beneficial to preventing pain.
- Massage-We know that massage is a vital piece to living a well life. Allow our amazing massage therapists to de-stress you and work on the muscular system. They utilize many different techniques to reduce tension in the muscles and tendons. Reducing trigger points, restoring tight and overworked muscles, and increasing muscular function can help alleviate many of the pains that people experience in the low back.
- Nutrition-Working to improve nutritional habits can also have a positive effect on low back pain. First, eating better can help shed weight, especially around the waist and hips. Weight held in these areas can create a constant burden that the low back region must support. Over time, this can stress structures in the low back and lead to aches and pains. In addition, decreasing pro-inflammatory foods in your diet can reduce pain sensations. Eating pro-inflammatory foods creates an environment that is like throwing gasoline on the fires that are already burning.
- BrainTap: Don’t underestimate the power of emotions to bring on pain. Stress can lead to muscle tension in the back. When we are chronically in a fight-or-flight stressed state, this can also make us more perceptive of pain. Ask about BrainTap to help reduce the impact of stress on the body. It engages the parasympathetic system, or the healing, resting part of our nervous system. This can help reduce the effect of pain signals.
- Yoga-Try a yoga class offered at our office. Working on flexibility and mobility can be very beneficial in preventing or alleviating low back pain.
No matter what the reason is for why you are experiencing low back pain, 8 Weeks to Wellness can help fix the issue so you can get back to living your life both feeling and functioning well for years to come! If you or someone you know and love is dealing with low back pain, schedule an appointment and allow our team to provide the guidance necessary for progress on the road to better health!