Low back pain affects 80% of the population in their life and one-third of the population yearly. One of the most common causes of low back pain comes from a slightly misaligned or restricted joint in the spine. We refer to this condition too as “lumbar segmental joint restriction” or more simply a “subluxation.” The term “subluxation” literally means “less than a dislocation.”
The lower back is made up of 5 bones stacked on top of each other with a soft “disc” between each segment to allow for flexibility. Normally, each joint in the spine should move freely and independently.
To help visualize this, imagine a normal spine functioning like a big spring moving freely in every direction. A spine with a joint restriction is like having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move but a portion of it is no longer functioning.
Joint restriction can develop in many ways. Sometimes they are brought on by an accident or an injury. Other times, they develop from repetitive strains or poor posture. Several factors may increase the likelihood you may experience low back pain. These include: being overweight, smoking, strenuous work, repetitive bending, twisting and lifting, prolonged exposure to entire body vibration- I.e. operating a motorized vehicle, stress, anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction with your job, and even your attitude!
Restricted joints give rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of discomfort. Joint restriction causes swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since the spine functions as a unit, rather than as isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of your spine often causes “compensatory” problems in another. Think of this as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one rower quits, they place the others under additional stress and can become overworked.
Joint restrictions most commonly cause local tenderness and discomfort, and often limited range of motion. Movement may increase discomfort. Pain from a restricted joint often trickles down to the hips or thighs. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if symptoms include any radiation of pain below the knee, weakness, groin numbness, or changes in bowel or bladder function.
Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in arthritis – much like the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes premature wearing of your tire.
Low back pain is common and treatable. Chiropractic care has been shown to be the safest and most effective treatment for joint restrictions. Our office offers several tools to help ease your pain including chiropractic care, acupuncture, and dry needling, and often customized stretches and exercises supporting your recovery from low back pain.
Credit: Information on this page provided by ChiroUp.