Low Back Pain


Low Back Pain Types and Outcomes

There are many different types and causes of low back pain and 80% of people will experience it in their lifetime.  Low back pain can be caused by a traumatic injury or fall but today, most cases are result of a largely sedentary population that intermittently exercises or works hard.  This combination of extremes, going from extended sitting into activity, makes uncomplicated low back pain one of the most common debilitating injuries for those 30 to 50 years old, with men and women equally affected.

Uncomplicated Low Back Pain

This is commonly caused by nerve, muscle, or bone lesions.  Chiropractors commonly call these subluxations.  This is a situation where the nerve is irritated, the muscles spasm, and the vertebrae in the back are slightly out of position, not moving correctly, or both.  This type of low back pain is centered in the low back and does not ‘travel’ to the extremities.  Adding to this condition, the patient may have underlying disc degeneration or arthritis of the spinal joints which may complicate the healing process; however, most patients with low back pain falling into this category are out of pain and functioning within a few weeks.  Obesity, smoking, stress, poor posture, and poor physical condition all can contribute to pain.

Repeated bouts of low back pain usually mean there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.  This could be structural imbalance, faulty biomechanics, or a combination of both.  When the back has to re-heal over and over again, scar tissue starts to develop and this tissue does not have the strength or flexibility of normal tissue.  Buildup of scar tissue from repeated injuries eventually weakens the back and can lead to more serious injury, so it is important to not ignore low back pain.


Sciatica is a type of low back pain the radiates into one of the legs.  This is an irritation of the sciatic nerve as it exits the spine and makes its way down to the leg to the foot.  There are several types of sciatica and for quicker and effective treatment, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of the tissues involved in the irritation of the sciatic nerve.  We spend a lot of time with sciatic patients determining if the impingement is at the spine or away from the spine and also determining if biomechanical issues are causing continued irritation.  With accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of the injury, we find that most patients are out of pain and functioning well in 1 to 3 months, many times less.


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Bulging Disc

A bulging disc causes entrapment of the nerve at the spine and can be extremely debilitating.  When this occurs, the disc has degenerated to the point that it starts to push out onto the spine or nerve roots.  This can cause numbness and tingling, muscle or motor loss, and shooting pain down into the legs, as well as sciatica.  Again, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of the level of the disc problem and we take the time to accurately determine the cause of your problem.  Our flexion distraction table is specially designed to decompress the disc and help to take the pressure of the exiting nerve root, relieving pain and increasing function.  Although sometimes it is necessary to have surgery, this condition is best treated by 6 to 12 weeks of spinal manipulation and spinal exercises.  Most patients recover within 3 to 6 months.

Spinal Degeneration

This type of pain is due to repeated wear and tear on the spine over a lifetime and is accompanied by arthritis of spinal joints.  Often pain with be in the morning after waking and before activity.  This type of pain is more of a chronic condition and is usually recurrent in nature.  It is important to make sure the condition does not develop into a more debilitating form of low back pain due to the structures constantly irritating the joints, muscles, and nerves.  Scar tissue formation is usually present and a combination of chiropractic and instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation is quite effective.  Most patients can greatly decrease their pain and improve their function, although outcomes are usually slower in nature.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

This is a type of nerve root impingement accompanied by bilateral ‘saddle’ paraesthesia with urinary incontinence that is very serious and is a medical emergency. If you are experiencing these symptoms seek medical help immediately.

Low Back Pain Treatments

We offer quick and effective treatment for low back pain in the Des Moines Area and we pride ourselves on the accurate diagnosis of your condition to ensure we do not waste time on your road to recovery.  In most cases, low back pain responds very well to the thorough and conservative care we offer in our office.  When a case presents that is beyond the treatments we offer, we quickly refer our patients to trusted area medical professionals to explore more invasive options.