Are you feeling bent out of shape from lower back pain? You’re not alone! Almost one-third of Canadians suffer from lower back pain. The winter season doesn’t help either! Shoveling snow, slips and falls and even participating in winter activities like skiing and skating can be the cause of back pain.
The back is responsible for supporting the trunk of the body and can suffer plenty of wear and tear, especially as we get older. This is because as we age we naturally lose muscle density that helps support the spine and spinal fluid that keeps our backs limber and flexible.
Without regular exercise practice, nervous system regulation, stress reduction, chiropractic adjustments and care for the spine, the risk of lower back irritation or injury increases.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
If you’re suffering from lower back pain it’s important to take action by getting down to the causes and conditions right away. You may be injuring your lower back further without even knowing it, and simply living with gnawing aches and pains in the lower back is making a decision to let the problem get worse.
Causes of lower back pain may include:
- Decreased flexibility. Tight or weak lower back muscles can cause pain. Everyday activities – for example, snow shoveling or skiing – can be the cause of low back pain if you lack flexibility.
- Poor posture/misalignments in the spine. Poor posture and spinal misalignments can cause unwanted strain on your lower back. Slouching forward at your desk, for example, puts pressure between your shoulder blades and causes you to flatten your back muscles.
- Nervous system dysregulation and stress. When your nervous system is not functioning at its best, it can manifest as pain and inflammation. Stress hormones can also cause our muscles to tense up, which can lead to pain and discomfort in the lower back. Stress can also lead to poor posture and an increased risk of injury, both of which can contribute to lower back pain.
- Stretching or tearing a muscle. The muscles in the lower back can become strained from excess activity, regular heavy lifting, or awkward positioning when lifting heavy objects. This is why many in physically demanding jobs like construction suffer from lower back pain (and that thick leather championship wrestling belt you’re wearing on the job can only go so far!) As we age, it’s especially important to keep up with exercises that stretch and strengthen the lower back instead of grunting through it or relying on support braces to prevent injury.
- Disc injury. As we age, the discs that cushion the vertebrae become more vulnerable and are easily injured. A ruptured or herniated disk happens when the cartilage around the disk slips outside of position and pushes against the nerves or spinal cord, usually from lifting something heavy or twisting the back.
- Sciatica. This two-for-one happens when a herniated disk presses on the sciatic nerve, sending pain signals throughout the body. Sciatica pain is not only felt in the lower back, but also in the legs and feet because the sciatic nerve connects the spine to the legs.
- Spinal stenosis. When the spaces within your spine narrow due to osteoarthritis, excess pressure is put on the spinal nerves. This can hurt a lot, or not at all…until it does. Spinal stenosis can be a sleeper condition that for a time may only cause some numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. When the nerves become compressed enough, the pain will announce your spinal stenosis loud and clear by shouting, surprise!
Other conditions that can lead to lower back pain include:
- Scoliosis – abnormal curvature of the spine.
- Arthritis – joint inflammation.
- Fibromyalgia – chronic pain in the muscles and joints of the lower back.
Preventing Lower Back Pain
Prevention is key to recovering from back pain before it worsens and turns into something more serious. Here are some useful tips you can start doing right now if you’re suffering from mild to moderate back pain.
Practice good posture. If you work at a desk, as many of us do, sit with your back firmly against the back of the chair and your feet planted on the ground. Slouching over your keyboard or tying your legs into a pretzel are some unconscious bad habits that can worsen lower back pain. The moment you become aware of your bad posture and correct it is the moment your recovery begins.
Exercise! Yoga and pilates stretch your back and strengthen the core muscles which help support your lower back by preventing muscle tears, herniated discs, and sciatica. Not to mention these are great ways to keep not only your lower back, but your entire body in shape. Yoga and pilates can help prevent lower back pain and come with a host of beneficial side effects, such as improved mental clarity and an overall sense of well-being. Believe it or not, yoga and pilates are pretty fun once you get into the swing of things. Keeping in shape seems less daunting when you enjoy the workout!
Lead a healthy lifestyle. Smoking and obesity are also causes of lower back pain. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen to the disk, which causes it to break down more quickly and can lead to a herniated disk. Being overweight puts excess strain on the discs of the lower back, which can lead to sciatica. Stress can also be a major contributor to pain and tension in the body. Practice deep breathing techniques in times of stress, make time for mindfulness and meditation and take time to rest and relax to avoid the harmful effects of chronic stress on your body.
Chiropractic Care For Lower Back Pain
Perhaps the greatest benefit to those who suffer from back pain, aside from prevention, is a consultation with a chiropractor who can help diagnose and relieve your symptoms of lower back pain through various techniques.
Our nervous system coordinates and controls every action and function in the body. Physical, chemical and emotional stress can alter the capacity of our nervous system to express health. Chiropractic care can help maintain a nervous system free of interference so that you can live your healthiest, pain free life!
Pain can be disruptive to your everyday life, no matter how big or small. But you shouldn’t have to live this way. We’re here to help you tackle your pain at the root cause, so you can and feel good in your body again.
The longer you wait, the worse your lower back pain becomes. Why sleep on it? Call us to schedule your consultation today!