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Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain

Lower back pain is a common problem that affects the majority of people in their lifetime (80%). It is often caused by a simple muscle, tendon or ligament strain or muscular cramp and not usually by a serious problem. When severe or recurrent in nature, it can often be a sign of some underlying issues which may need further investigation.

The cause of back pain is often linked to dysfunction in the way that the bones, muscles, and ligaments in the back work together. Due to the complex structure of your lower back, even small amounts of damage to any part of the lumbar region can result in a lot of pain and discomfort.

Some of the most common causes of stress and strain on the spine include:

  • Poor posture – slouching in chairs, driving in hunched positions and standing badly

  • Lifting incorrectly

  • Sleep; sleeping  on an aging, unsupportive mattress.

  • Overall Fitness

  • Overuse; over tiring muscles and not following a gradually increasing work or sports program. Not warming up or cooling down before and after exercise will also cause muscle pain.

  • Inactivity / Poor movement patterns are usually at the root of simple back pain. Inactivity results in weak tight muscles so they are unable to support the back properly. This leaves the spine more vulnerable to damage when certain movements put too much strain on one area.

Principal symptoms of a lower back injury may feature:

  • Ache and stiffness into the base of the spine.

  • The pain may radiate down the front, side, or back of your leg, or it may be confined to the low back.

  • The pain may become worse with activity.

  • Occasionally, the pain may be worse at night or with prolonged static positions.

  • You may wake up with stiffness and lack of mobility in the lower back.

  • You may have pain, numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve, this could be anywhere from the hip to the toes.

What is involved in treatment?

Treatment is dependent on your diagnosis of what is causing your pain, however common techniques we utilise are:

  • Massage

  • Dry needling

  • Manipulation

  • Mobilisation of the joints

  • Flexion traction

  • Sacro-occipital techniques

  • Trigger point therapy

  • Taping

At Bristol Chiropractic we use our clinical experience along with quality standards set by the Royal College of Chiropractors and clinical guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to deliver the best effective treatment plan.

Common injuries to the lower back

A common cause of lower back pain that our Chiropractors see a lot is 'Slipped discs', these also known as 'disc bulges' or 'disc herniations'. They can cause acute localised pain in the lower back or severe sciatica down the leg or legs. Your chiropractor can determine which way your disc is bulging and its severity by using a series of neurological tests. After this, they can provide effective gentle manual therapy alongside a home management and exercise plan to help resolve the problem. Your clinician also has the ability to refer for and read X-rays and MRI scans.

Sciatica is a symptom that occurs when the Sciatic nerve gets irritated or 'pinched'. It is usually a result of a disc injury, caused by poor movement patterns though it can be caused by dysfunction and injury to other structures local to the nerve. The pain can be varied, symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning, Pins and needles, as well as weakness to specific muscle groups.

Mechanical back pain usually results from over use or use of the spine in a way it is not normally used to. These issues are usually straight forward though can take some time to resolve as the dysfunction to the joint and muscles has often been building up for a while. The pain you feel eventually is usually the consequence of a structure failing as a result of long term muscle, ligament and joint dysfunction. 

Sacroiliac joint injury (pelvic joint pain), often mistaken as the hips, these joints are at the base of the lower back and can often cause pain in and around the buttock area. They are load bearing joints and a common injury site as most of us spend our lives sitting and compressing these joints. These joints are often involved with an episode of back pain, so you may find your Chiropractor explaining their relevance to you on the day of your consultation.

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