Lower Back Pain Treatment for Long Term Relief

Lower back pain may not go away on it's own.

Lower back pain may not go away on it’s own.

Lower back pain can be annoying and even disabling in severe cases. Certain events and stages in life are inevitable; for example, no matter how advanced and modern we become or how innovative the scientific developments grow; we can do nothing to stop the process of aging (at least not in the near future). Aging is not bad per se, except the fact that growing old is not just graying of hair or wrinkling of skin. When we age, every cell/organ/tissue of the body grows old with us and become less capable of withstanding stress, pressure, infection, disease, trauma and injury.

Among many health issues that we develop with aging, the most significant is weakness of musculoskeletal system. This is because:

  • Most vital and notable activities are dependent on the functional performance of musculoskeletal system (with aging you cannot put a lot of weight and pressure on your bones/muscles/joints without increasing the risk of injury)
  • Besides affecting your functional independence, aging also affects the balance, harmony and stability of musculoskeletal system. Consequently, you experience pain, stiffness, muscle atrophy, limitation of range of motion and other similar ailments even in normal elderly subjects.

What should you know about lower back pain?

Here are a few questions….

  • Do you think all the bones and tissues in your body are affected by aging process at a similar pace?
  • What are some essential risk factors that make some bones more vulnerable to others?
  • Is there anything you can do to limit the pain and suffering?

The answer to the first question is fairly simple; bones and tissues are affected at different pace (with some joints more affected than others).  For example, according to the results of a latest survey conducted and reported by Center for Disease Control (1), the current prevalence of chronic joint pain in US population is 33% (which corresponds to 69.9 million individuals). Report also suggested that most frequently involved joints are knee, hip and vertebrae.

Another study reported that the lifetime prevalence of at least one episode of chronic lower back pain is 80%. According to the data reported by Hoy (2), the prevalence of first episode of lower back pain in the past one year in general population ranges from 6.3 to 15.4%. Unfortunately, most people develop chronic or recurring episodes of low back pain. Hoy suggested that the rate of recurrence within one year of the first episode is as high as 24 to 80%.

A lot of people believe that the primary culprit in the pathogenesis of most diseases is “old age”; which is true in most cases, but it has been observed that a majority of lower back pain cases are reported in adults in their mid or late thirties. The prevalence increases drastically after the age 60 (with as many as 60 – 80% elderly subjects with chronic lower back pain).

What are the causes of lower back pain?

Here are some causes why lower back pain is so common in general population (and not just the elderly):

1. Degenerative disc disease:

The spinal column supports and stabilizes the connectivity and functionality between upper body and lower body with the help of highly organized yet complicated network of spinal muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, arteries and cartilage. Since the spine is subjected to a larger load and more pressure, the risk of wear and tear changes is much higher in spinal region.

2. Spondylolisthesis: 

Advanced degeneration in the spine leads to Spondylolisthesis, a condition characterized by misalignment of spine due to instability of vertebral segments.

3. Osteoporosis:

As we age, the bones get more brittle and less mineralized. Weak bones are less capable of withstanding stress and pressure and consequently are at higher risk of vertebral fractures and vertebral compression. Factors like poor nutrition, unhealthy physical environment, excessive smoking and lack of exercise aggravates the osteoporosis.

4. Spinal Stenosis:

Changes in the architecture or stability of vertebral column affect the integrity of spinal column and may affect the nerves or blood vessels. Irritation of nerves is a common cause of lower back pain.

5. Scoliosis:

A lot of people think that spine is vertical and straight which is not true. Vertebral column has two well-defined curvatures (that makes the spine/vertebral column S-shaped). The lower spinal curvature is capable of supporting body weight, promoting locomotion and acting as a shock-absorber to prevent sudden trauma to spine in case of fall or heavy jumping. However, with aging, poor posture, certain occupational activities and other related factors, the normal angles or curves of vertebral column may shift leading to scoliosis – a recognized cause of lower back pain.

Other common causes include:

  • Advanced metabolic or medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension etc.
  • Endocrinological abnormality that affects the integrity of bones/joints like thyroid dysfunction, hyperfunctioning adrenal gland etc.

What are some associated symptoms of back pain?

Back pain may appear as an isolated symptom that may vary in intensity (mild, moderate, severe, unbearable); character (sharp, stabbing or shooting); and duration (continuous or intermittent). Depending upon the cause, it may also be associated with:

  • Stiffness (feeling of rigidity or tightness)
  • Limited range of motion (making it hard for you to bend all the way to tie your shoe-laces)
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction (this may include both the extremes i.e. incontinence and retention)
  • Weakness of muscles
  • Paresthesia or altered sensations
  • Tingling sensation in the back or limbs (since most nerves that supply lower limbs originate from the lumbar or lower segment of spinal column)

Now the final question – what can you do in order to manage lower back pain?

The choice of therapy is usually made after a careful assessment of the cause and extent of lower back pain. In most cases, holistic methods of care are considered more effective and superior to surgical or pharmacological methods (especially in the setting of chronic pain).

How chiropractic care can manage lower back pain?

Are you aware that:

  • According to latest statistics, more than 22 million US adults seek chiropractic care for the management of chronic musculoskeletal conditions and pain syndromes
  • 35% of all patients who report to chiropractic clinics require treatment for chronic back pain (this corresponds to 7.7 million individuals)

Benefits of chiropractic care for low back pain management?

Chiropractic care is becoming increasingly popular in general population for the management of chronic lower back pain. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Chiropractic procedures and tactics are extremely safe and effective (both in short term and long term)
  • Unlike surgical or medical management, chiropractic procedures strengthen the musculoskeletal framework.
  • The strategies used by chiropractors helps in relieving pain, discomfort and swelling; yet the quality of results are superior to pain-killers since chiropractic strategies target muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, subcutaneous tissues and nerves all at once.
  • Being a holistic method of care, chiropractors also provide nutritional counseling to ensure optimal healing and overall improved immunity
  • Most surgical and medical management address only the current issues; chiropractic care on the other hand also prevents future incidents from occurring.
  • Chiropractic exercises and interventions condition the tissues and muscles/joints to sustain higher pressure and stress without undergoing injury

Besides managing urgent health issues, chiropractic care also prepare and train the patients to prevent such episodes in the future. For example, strategies like “body awareness techniques” are employed by chiropractors to help the patients in understanding their kinesthetic and physical sensations (for early detection of warning signals before the actual injury).

Lower back pain is not just disabling, but can also become embarrassing at times. Imagine when you require assistance in doing simple tasks like standing up from sitting position or times when you have to stop in the middle of a soft ball game with your grandson due to sudden attack of pain or stiffness.

If you are suffering from acute or chronic lower back pain, speak to Dr. Galgano for early relief and pain-free survival.

References:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5142a2.htm
  2. Hoy, D., Brooks, P., Blyth, F., & Buchbinder, R. (2010). The epidemiology of low back pain. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, 24(6), 769-781.
  3. Cherkin, D. C., Eisenberg, D., Sherman, K. J., Barlow, W., Kaptchuk, T. J., Street, J., & Deyo, R. A. (2001). Randomized trial comparing traditional Chinese medical acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and self-care education for chronic low back pain. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161(8), 1081-1088.
  4. Kovacs, F. M., Abraira, V., Zamora, J., del Real, M. T. G., Llobera, J., & Fernández, C. (2004). Correlation between pain, disability, and quality of life in patients with common low back pain. Spine, 29(2), 206-210.
  5. Hoogendoorn, W. E., van Poppel, M. N., Bongers, P. M., Koes, B. W., & Bouter, L. M. (2000). Systematic review of psychosocial factors at work and private life as risk factors for back pain. Spine, 25(16), 2114-2125.
Lower Back Pain Treatment for Long Term Relief was last modified: March 21st, 2014 by Dr James Galgano