Patients guide to low back pain

Low back pain is one of the most common disorders in North America.  About 80% of people suffer from low back pain at least once in their lifetime.

There are a number of things that increase your risk of developing low back pain.  These include smoking, obesity, older age, female gender, physically strenuous work, sedentary work, stressful job, job dissatisfaction anxiety and depression.  This is not to say that these factors cause low back pain, however they are linked to it.

Low back pain can have many causes.  However, most people suffer from non-specific low back pain, which means that there is not a specific disease or abnormality in the spine clearly causing the pain.  Many people attribute their back pain to a degenerating disc or arthritis, although problems in the muscles, ligaments or joints may be equally responsible.  Many of these problems cannot be seen on imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRIs or CT scans, however it may be important to undergo these examiantions to rule out more significant pathology.

Rarely, back pain is caused by a potentially serious spinal condition, such as infection, fracture, tumor or cauda equina syndrome.  It is a health practitioner’s role to identify these conditions and manage it appropriately.

There are many forms of treatment for low back pain.  People who suffer from non-specific low back pain or mechanical low back pain can undergo many forms of formal or informal treatment.  These include heat or ice therapy, exercise, physical therapy, manipulation, mobilizations, acupuncture, massage, yoga and interferential current.

The risk for low back pain can be reduced from occurring or returning.  The most important factor is exercise and staying active. Regular exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness can be combined with specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of the hips, torso and core without putting additional strain on the back.  It is also important to avoid repetitive bending or twisting and high-impact activities that increases the stress in the spine.

People with low back pain should learn the right way to bend and lift.  As an example, lifting should always be done with the knees bent and the abdominal muscles tightened to avoid straining the weaker muscles in the lower back.

People who sit or stand for long periods of time should change positions often and use a chair with appropriate support for the back.  An office chair should be readjusted several times through the day to avoid sitting in the same position.  Taking brief but frequent breaks to walk around will also prevent pain due to prolonged sitting or standing.  People who stand in place for long periods can try placing a block of wood on the floor, stepping up and down every few minutes.

Your healthcare provider is the best source of information for questions and concerns related to your health related problems.  Chiropractors are specialists in treating back pain and are trained in identifying all back related problems, including serious conditions.  The providers at MOBO PHYSIO are more than happy to meet with you to review your case.

Dr. Justin Arseneau, DC