If you are experiencing the misery of back pain, you are not alone. Back pain affects around 80% of people at some stage during their lifetime, this equates to around 52 million people in the UK alone and has been increasing over the past five years*.
Pain may begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time due to age-related changes of the spine or lifestyle factors. Men and women are equally affected by low back pain, it can range widely from a mild constant ache to severe incapacitating pain but in all cases it has a profound and debilitating impact on daily life.
About Your Back
The spine is one of the most important parts of your body, keeping yourself upright whilst allowing movement and flexibility.
The main function of the spine is protecting the spinal chord which acts as a column of nerves connecting your brain and body.
The Spine is made up of 24 separate bones called vertebrae stacked on top of one another. Your lower back is made up of the lowest five vertebrae which are attached to the sacrum and coccyx. Between the vertebrae are discs that act as shock absorbers and allow your spine to bend. Your spinal cord threads through the vertebrae.
The normal spine has an “S”-like curve when looking at it from the side, this allows for an even distribution of weight. The “S” curve helps a healthy spine withstand all kinds of stress, even though the lower portion of your spine holds most of the body’s weight, each segment relies upon the strength of the others to function properly.
Types of Lower Back Pain
When there is no underlying medical condition or pathology the most common type of back pain is Mechanical lower back pain.
This means that the pain has come from the spinal joints, discs, vertebrae, nerves or surrounding soft tissues (muscles, ligaments or tendons).
Mechanical lower back pain; includes muscle or ligament strain sprains, herniated discs, compressed nerve roots, degenerative discs or joint disease.
Mechanical lower back pain accounts for over 90% of all reported cases of back pain within the UK and is the type of lower back pain commonly and effectively treated by manual therapies including Chiropractic. Before any treatment is commenced a thorough examination is required to determine which structures are involved.
Common Symptoms of Mechanical Low Back Pain
Symptoms of Mechanical Low Back Pain vary from person to person, it may have started suddenly and be associated with a specific incident or it may have come on gradually over time and is then often related to lifestyle factors or aging. Pain varies in severity from mild to acute and you may have some good days and some bad days.
- Pain that is dull or achy, focused to the lower back
- Pain that increases with movement or a change of posture
- Stinging, burning pain that travels from the lower back to the back of the thighs and lower legs.
- Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing
- Muscle spasms and stiffness in the lower back, often worse in the mornings.
- Some people with back pain also have pain down one leg, or into the buttock or groin, commonly known as sciatica.
Consult your GP if in addition to your back pain you feel unwell or have a history of Cancer or Osteoporosis.
You should seek medical attention right away if you:
- have numbness or tingling around your bottom or genitals
- have sudden difficulty passing urine
- lose control of your bowels
- are unsteady when you walk, your legs feel weak or your foot is dropping or dragging
These may be signs that the nerves at the bottom of your spine are being pressed on. This is called cauda equina syndrome and needs urgent treatment.
Common Causes of Mechanical Low Back Pain
Sitting still for long periods of time has now become a more common cause of back pain, although lifting and carrying remain the number one catalysts.
In 2013 Housework and DIY were blamed for 29% of cases while sport and exercise were associated with 26% of reported cases.*
What is Happening in Your body when Low Back Pain Strikes
Once any underlying medical condition is ruled out and the cause of your back pain is known to be mechanical in nature it is then important to determine which mechanical structures are involved.
In all cases and regardless of what structures are involved there will be inflammation. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to heal the area. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury, and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling, stiffness and reduced mobility. This protective process also stimulates nerves in the area causing pain.
Things you can do to Help yourself
If you have recently injured your low back, here are a few things you can do to help yourself.
Chill it – During the first 24 to 48 hours, use ice wrapped in a towel or cloth. Apply for 10 minutes once every hour. Ice helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Warning: Never apply a cold source directly onto skin, always wrap it in something.
Keep moving – Your spine is designed to move, keep yourself as mobile as possible within a comfortable range. Gentle back exercises and stretches can help in relieving and preventing further symptoms- our Chiropractors at Life Chiropractic will be able to recommend the right exercise programme for you.
Pain killers – Often provide a temporary pain relief, always consult your GP. We appreciate that at times pain-killers can be helpful, however, it is always best to get an accurate diagnosis and not take them for long periods of time.
How we can help you
The Chiropractic Approach to Low Back Pain –
Chiropractic is a totally natural option for the treatment of Low Back Pain. Our Chiropractors have all undergone a minimum of four years full time education resulting in a Master Degree, qualifying them to carry out a thorough history and examination in order to diagnose and treat your Low Back Pain without needing a GP referral.
The Initial Consultation £36.00
The key to the great results we achieve with the thousands of patients we treat across our four clinics is getting the diagnosis right, therefore, we have dedicated the first two consultations to this.
On your first consultation one of our qualified Chiropractors will take your full medical history and will take you through a physical examination to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. During the physical examination your Chiropractor will carry out orthopaedic tests, assess your flexibility, range of motion and posture in order to pinpoint the cause of your pain. If required we will use advanced Digital X-Ray* technology as part of the diagnostic process.
On your second consultation (the Report of Findings), once the cause of your symptoms has been established, we will provide you with a clear explanation of what we have discovered along with the best and most beneficial way forward. If Chiropractic is an appropriate treatment option for your symptoms you will be told approximately how many treatments are required. Once any questions you may have are answered you can then start your treatment and look forward to feeling much better.
Chiropractic Treatments £37.00
Chiropractic Treatments consist mainly of Spinal Adjustments, a specific form of Spinal Manipulation. During a Chiropractic Adjustment the Chiropractor uses their hands to move the affected joint, restoring motion and reducing pain, without the need for medication or invasive procedures. Chiropractors also use soft tissue techniques to treat the muscles surrounding the joint and are trained to recommend rehabilitative exercises as well as giving lifestyle and dietary advice in order to tackle every aspect of the problem.