By: Dr. St Jean
I think you’ll agree with me when I say….when you have low back pain, you REALLY want to figure out what the problem is quick and get out of pain! In this article, I’m going to show you the 3 most common causes of low back pain. We are going to talk about sprain/strains, disc injuries and spinal stenosis.
If you are suffering from low back pain, there’s a high probability one of these 3 things is actually causing it! And..once you know what is causing your pain, then you can finally get rid of it.
See a doctor to get out of pain!
Remember, symptoms of low back pain vary, so it’s really important for you to get an exam. You don’t want to try and self-diagnose or self-treat. There’s so many different things that can cause low back pain and you just really want to get down to the bottom of it, so you can get out of pain.
What’s makes it even more complicated, is there are different presentations of low back pain. Maybe your pain is local or diffuse? Is it on your left or right side? Is it radiating down your buttocks, thighs or legs? Maybe it feels sharp, stabbing, burning or just dull and achy. Maybe there is numbness and tingling as well?
Why does this matter?
Simple. You can’t get out of pain if you don’t figure out what’s causing your low back pain. If you want to work with myself and get to the root cause of your low back pain, book your intro consult today at The Chicago Chiropractor in Lincoln Park, Chicago:
How Sprain/Strains Can Bully Your Back
A lot of times, patients walk into our office with sprains/strains, whether that’s standalone or with another condition. Sprain means injury to your ligaments. Strain means damage or injury to your muscles.
For treatment to be effective, you have to figure out which muscles and soft tissues in your low back are actually affected. Otherwise you’ll be blindly chasing for potential pain generators. Low back pain symptoms indicative of sprains/strain usually present in a specific manner.
You may notice localized pain, either on one side of your back or the other. You may feel a deep achey pain that’s more tight and tender to the touch. Usually there is no radiation of pain. Although in some cases, you might experience radiation and it may feel like random sharp twinges. For example, your walking and your pain is dull and achey, then all of a sudden you feel a jolt of sharp pain.
That’s not all…
Another symptom you may notice is almost every direction of movement aggravates the pain. Think about it, if your muscle or ligament is damaged, anytime you move that muscle in different planes of motion, you’re going to aggravate the injury. What’s next on the chopping block?
No More Disc Injury, No More Pain!
Disc problems are very common. Keep in mind, an injury to your disc could be a herniation, a bulge, or degeneration of the disc. If you picture your spine in your low back, you have your vertebrae (back bones) stacked on one another. In between each of those bones is a shock-absorbing cushion called an intervertebral disc. The disc is made up of two parts, the annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus (look to the right). The way your pain is presenting will depend on whether or not there is a small or large injury to your disc.
With small disc injury, you’re going to have more localized sharp stabbing-type pain. The pain often will only radiate down into the lower regions of the back towards the sacrum and in the buttock.
With the large disc injury, this will present a bit differently. You will most likely have pain shooting down the leg, going down the thigh and into the actual leg itself. Sometimes the pain will even migrate into the foot and toes. Numbness and tingling will often accompany the pain.
You’ll also notice there are very specific movements that are problematic for you if suffering from a disc injury. Typically patients report problems with transitioning from sitting to standing, bending over to pick something off the ground, or sitting for prolonged periods. You may notice pain when getting out of your car or up from your office chair.
Attack Stenosis, Avoid Surgery!
Last but not least – Spinal stenosis. Here’s the deal….
Spinal stenosis is essentially narrowing of your spinal canal. There’s a big canal in the middle of your spine where the spinal cord travels through. There is also foramen or “holes” if you will, on the side of your spine. When these “canals” become degenerative, narrowing of the available space naturally occurs.
You can have central canal stenosis, which is narrowing where the spinal cord is. You can also have foraminal canal stenosis, where you have narrowing on the side of the vertebrae where the nerves come out. The same nerves that innervate your arms and legs, your thorax and abdomen, etc. Stenosis is a big problem and tends to hit the older population. So if you are 50 and up, this is cause for concern.
With stenosis affecting the low back, you’ll obviously experience some back pain. A key feature of spinal stenosis is that you’ll notice you may actually feel a bit better when leaning forward. This is a great differentiating factor from disc patients. It’s called “shopping card syndrome” because patients will find leaning forward on their carts at the grocery store provides pain relief.
Localization and radiation of pain in stenosis entirely depends on the degree of narrowing occurring inside your spine. Once consistent complaint however tends to be pain with numbness and tingling after walking for prolonged periods of time.
The take home point – if you have low back pain, you need to schedule an exam whether that’s with myself or someone else. Figure out what’s causing your pain, identify the root cause, and get out of pain.
If you want to work with myself and get to the root cause of your low back pain, book your intro consult today at The Chicago Chiropractor in Lincoln Park, Chicago: