“I was digging a hole in my garden and hit a rock with the shovel. After clearing the dirt from around the rock, I bent over and reached into the hole. I couldn’t get a good grip on the rock and had to twist my body to get my arm under it. As I started to move the rock, I felt something ‘give out’ in my low back and felt immediate low back pain, but it wasn’t terrible. Like a fool, I gave it another try but this time, the pain in my back was really sharp when I twisted to reach under it. Then, it felt like a knife stabbing me when I tried to stand up. Since then, I can’t stand up straight and pain is shooting down my left leg.”
The intervertebral disk is like a shock-absorber located between each vertebra in our spine extending from the tail bone to the upper neck. When healthy, your disks truly do function as shock absorbers. There are two parts to the disk – the inner part (called the nucleus) which is the liquid-like center and the outer part (the annulus), which is tough, laminated and rubber-like whose job is to hold the nucleus in the center of the disk. The annulus has concentric rings which look similar to the rings of an oak tree trunk and the strength of these laminated rings is due to the fibers crisscrossing, creating a self-sealing, secure border for the nucleus center. In spite of this great anatomical structure, our disks degenerate and can crack or tear allowing the more liquid-like nucleus to leak out of the annulus creating the classic “slipped disk” (technically referred to as a herniated or ruptured disk). When the herniated disk presses into the nerve that goes down the leg, pain is felt along its course and can radiate all the way to the foot. There are five vertebrae and disks with a pair of nerves that go into each leg and depending which disk ruptures, pain will follow a different course down the leg, which is why we ask you if you feel the pain more in the back or in the front of the leg. When the disk tears prior to both disk herniation and leg pain, low back pain occurs because the nerve fibers that are normally only located in the outer third of the disk grow into the central portion of the disk, making it generate more pain.
So now for the important question, “…what can I do for it?” When you visit our office, we will ask you about how you injured your back. Often, the cause of a herniated disk can be the accumulation of multiple events over time. It certainly can happen after one major event, like our example of lifting a rock out of a hole, but that is usually the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” and not the sole cause. Many researchers have reported it is rare for a healthy disk to herniate. Rather, disk degeneration with tears already present sets up the situation where a bend plus a twist, “…finishes the job.” The orthopedic and neurological examination will usually clearly identify the level of herniation. Chiropractic treatment often includes traction types of techniques, some form of spinal manipulation or mobilization, extension exercises, physical therapy modalities like electric stimulation, low level laser, or ultrasound, and ice therapy. Core / trunk strengthening and posture management are also commonly applied and, proper bending/lifting/pulling/pushing techniques are taught. We realize that you have a choice in where you choose for your healthcare services. If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.
Content Courtesy of Chiro-Trust.org. All Rights Reserved.
It’s been said that if you haven’t had back pain, just wait, because (statistically) some day you will! The following list is a list of “causes” that can be easily “fixed” to reduce your risk for a back pain episode.
1. MATTRESS: Which type of mattress is best? The “short answer”: there is no single mattress (style or type) for all people, primarily due to body type, size, gender, and what “feels good.” TRY laying on a variety of mattresses (for several minutes on your back and sides) and check out the difference between coiled, inner springs, foam (of different densities), air, waterbeds, etc. The thickness of a mattress can vary from 7 to 18 inches (~17-45 cm) deep. Avoid mattresses that feel like you’re sleeping in a hammock! A “good” mattress should maintain your natural spinal curves when lying on your sides or back (avoid stomach sleeping in most cases). Try placing a pillow between the knees and “hug” a pillow when side sleeping, as it can act like a “kick stand” and prevent you from rolling onto your stomach. If your budget is tight, you can “cheat” by placing a piece of plywood between the mattress and box spring as a short-term fix.
2. SHOES: Look at the bottom of your favorite pair of shoes and check out the “wear pattern.” If you have worn out soles or heels, you are way overdue for a new pair or a “re-sole” by your local shoe cobbler! If you work on your feet, then it’s even more important for both managing and preventing LBP!
3. DIET: A poor diet leads to obesity, which is a MAJOR cause of LBP. Consider the Paleo or Mediterranean Diet and STAY AWAY from fast food! Identify the two or three “food abuses” you have embraced and eliminate them – things with empty calories like soda, ice cream, chips… you get the picture! Keeping your BMI (Body Mass Index) between 20 and 25 is the goal! Positive “side-effects” include increased longevity, better overall health, and an improved quality of life!
4. EXERCISE: The most effective self-help approach to LBP management is exercise. Studies show those who exercise regularly hurt less, see doctors less, have a higher quality of life, and just feel better! This dovetails with diet in keeping your weight in check as well. Think of hamstring stretches and core strengthening as important LBP managers – USE PROPER TECHNIQUE AND FORM; YOUR DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC CAN GUIDE YOU IN THIS PROCESS!
5. POSTURE: Another important “self-help” trick of the trade is to avoid sitting slumped over with an extreme forward head carriage positions. Remember that every inch your head pokes forwards places an additional ten pounds (~4.5 kg) of load on your upper back muscles to keep your head upright, and sitting slumped increases the load on your entire back!
We have only scratched the surface of some COMMON causes and/or contributors of back pain. Stay tuned next month as we continue this important conversation!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.
Content Courtesy of Chiro-Trust.org. All Rights Reserved.
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