Many of our patients we see have low back pain. In fact, it is the number one reason for people to seek out a chiropractor. Research shows that 80 percent of adults will have back pain in their life, and 38 percent of adults will have back pain this year. Lower back pain is the costliest non-life threatening condition and the most common source of disability in workers under the age of 40.
Our spine is made up of 33 vertebrae, with the bottom five vertebrae (lumbar L1-L5) supporting much of the weight of the upper body. The space between the vertebrae are maintained by circular, rubbery shock-absorbing pads called intervertebral discs. These act as cushions throughout the spine as the body moves. Ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to our spinal column, allowing us to move. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and control signals to and from the brain.
Most back pain can be grouped into one category: mechanical back pain. This refers to the pain coming from our joints, discs, bones, or muscles. As chiropractors, we are trained to determine the cause of your back pain and treat you accordingly.
There are many different causes of mechanical low back pain. Below are the top 10 causes of low back pain seen in our office. A thorough history and examination gives us the best chance of determining your problem and giving you options to treat the issue. Click on each condition to learn more!
- Segmental Joint Dysfunction: Segmental joint dysfunction is an extremely common diagnosis and is a component of almost all mechanical lower back pain. It can be present by itself, but it is also commonly present with other types of mechanical dysfunction in the lower back such as disc lesions, degeneration, and stenosis.
- A Lumbar disc lesion, also known as a disc herniation or bulge, can occur when the intervertebral discs become compressed and push outward, which in turn can compress, inflame, and irritate a spinal nerve root. Irritation to the nerve root results in pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation that travels or radiates to other areas of the body that are served by that nerve.
- Sciatica is a caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that travels through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. There are typically two causes of sciatica, a lumbar disc lesion or piriformis syndrome. This compression causes shock-like or burning low back pain combined with pain through the buttocks and down one leg, occasionally reaching the foot. In the most extreme cases, when the nerve is pinched between the disc and the adjacent bone, the symptoms may involve not only pain, but numbness and muscle weakness in the leg because of interrupted nerve signaling.
- Facet syndrome: Similar to segmental joint dysfunction, facet syndrome is inflammation in the facet joints, which are the large joints that are above and below each spinal level.
- Strain/sprain: Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing ligaments, and strains are tears in tendon or muscle. Both can occur from twisting or lifting something improperly, lifting something too heavy, or over stretching. Such movements may also trigger spasms in back muscles, which can also be painful.
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: The sacroiliac (S.I.) joint is the load-bearing, shock-absorbing union between the spine and pelvis. It is a mechanical link that connects the chain of locomotion to the rest of the body. This joint is surrounded by a strong ligamentous-reinforced capsule and is minimally mobile, allowing only about 4 degrees of rotation and up to 1.6 mm of translation. Approximately 3-22% of lumbosacral pain is attributable to the S.I joint.
- Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Stenosis can cause pain or numbness with walking and over time leads to leg weakness and sensory loss.
- Pregnancy related low back pain: Research shows that between 45-76% of pregnant women will experience low back pain at some stage of their pregnancy. Pregnancy-related low back pain is not generally the result of true structural disease, but rather a combination of “functional” stressors, including weight gain, biomechanical changes, gait changes, and postural strains that occur along with hormone-induced ligamentous laxity.
- Lower Crossed Syndrome: A functional deficiency characterized by tight muscles in one area and under-active muscles in another.
At Creekside Performance Center, we are highly trained to treat each of these conditions. We are the only inter-disciplinary clinic in Sheboygan county that provides chiropractic, myofascial release, ART, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, rehabilitative exercise, nutritional counseling, personal training, and golf performance training under one roof.