You are not alone! It is estimated that over 80% of the population will experience lower back pain during their lifetime, and 31 million Americans are experiencing lower back pain at any given time!
The lower back is a complex structure made up of bones, discs, joints, ligaments, and muscles that are designed to protect the spinal nerves, support your upper body weight, and allow you mobility so you can bend and twist. Obviously, any number of things can and often do go wrong, leading to lower back pain. Traumatic injuries, lifting, bending, or twisting, prolonged sitting at home or work, stress, and pregnancy are just a few examples of activities that can lead to lower back pain.
The facet joints that connect the back sides of the spinal bones together, are heavily supplied with pain producing nerves, and are a common source of lower back pain. If this network of joints isn’t moving properly, they can lead to painful symptoms.
The discs are the major shock absorbers between each bone of the spine. They are made up of 2 parts. The outer layer is a strong fibrous ring, and the inner a softer, more gel like substance. Damage to these discs can lead to pain from the nerves in the discs, the ligaments surrounding them, or the pressure they might put on the spinal cord or nerve roots (pinched nerves).
Once we know what is causing this back pain, we can decide how best to treat it. Drugs can help take the edge off the back pain, but they tend to just mask the symptoms and do little to correct the underlying problem. They can’t correct the function of the spinal joints. Injections work the same way. They are just a higher dose of drug, injected directly into the affected area in the spine.
Surgery should be thought of as a last resort. There are cases where it is necessary, when all other options have been exhausted. Surgeries can range from the removal of a piece of the spinal disc or bone, through a small incision, to removal of entire discs and fusion of the bones.
In this office, we deal with the correction of mechanical and functional problems within the joints and discs of the spine, addressing the cause of lower back pain. This is done with chiropractic adjustments, physiotherapy, exercise, stretching, massage, and patient education. Learning about your back and knowing the proper posture, ergonomics, and how to keep it strong will empower you to maintain a healthy spine.