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The 3 Most Common Causes of Low Back Pain

person with low back painDo you have low back pain? Is it causing you to lose sleep at night? Having trouble chasing your kids around? Or are you skipping workouts at the gym because your back hurts a little too much? The good news is that you’re not alone, because 80% of people in America will have an episode of low back pain in their life.

Jake Schaake, Doctor of Chiropractic at Back Pain Center, shares the three most common causes of low back pain and treatment.

Muscle Strain

Simply stated, these muscles in the low back connect one joint or vertebrae to the next. Some muscle spans to the next closest joint, and some will span across multiple joints before getting to their connection point.

These muscles allow for movements such as flexion, extension, sideways bending, and rotation.

  • Mechanism of injury: Often, performing one of the normal ranges of motion while the body is loaded with extra weight can create muscle strains. At this time of year, this can be while shoveling snow.
  • Symptoms: Most people don’t remember a specific incident that leads to their back pain, and will start to feel symptoms such as point tenderness in the low back, decreased ranges of motion, muscle spasms, and maybe even a bit of swelling.

Disc Herniation

This is another common cause of low back pain, and this occurs when some soft jelly-like substance inside the intervertebral discs escapes or bulges. Often this is referred to as a slipped disc, a blown disc, or a disc out of place. Maybe you’ve heard it called one of these terms.

  • What is this injury: The disc is the squishy material in between each vertebra that provides some cushion and allows your joints to move in various ranges of motion.
  • Mechanism of injury: Performing flexion repetitively or repetitive bending and rounding of the low back.
  • Symptoms: Burning, numbness, tingling, radiation of pain into the leg or lower extremity, and even further down into the foot, muscle weakness, and decreased range of motion.
  • Treatment: This injury can be treated conservatively without surgery, and should respond within a few days of proper treatment. A disc injury can heal all by itself, even without a chiropractor, but with chiropractic care, the recovery process can be expedited and future injury can be avoided.

This injury can be examined, diagnosed, and treated by what is called the McKenzie Method (MDT) or Mechanical Diagnosis Therapy, which simply checks different ranges of motion to see which motion creates relief for the patient.

Pars Fracture or Spondylolysis

This is common in the youth athlete, more so than the adult athlete, but it can happen to anybody.

  • What is this injury: It’s a stress fracture of a specific part of your vertebra called the pars interarticularis. Usually, this is a repetitive type of loading injury seen most commonly at L5 and is often asymptomatic but seen on X-ray imaging.
  • Who gets this injury: There is an increased risk for this injury in sports, such as gymnastics, weightlifting, CrossFit, football, diving, swimming, and wrestling.
  • Mechanism of injury: Repetitive extension or extension with rotation. These specific movements load the section of the vertebrae called the pars until eventually, a stress fracture occurs.
  • Treatment: Rehab with a focus on stabilization of the spine and mobilization of the segments above and below the injury.

There are many other injuries that can cause low back pain, and these are just a few of the common ones.

Book an Appointment

If you’re experiencing low back pain, make an appointment today. We want to get you back on your feet so you’re sleeping again, chasing your kids/grandkids, and returning to the gym or other activities that you enjoy!

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