Back Pain Treatment
How the human back is put together
The spine is made up of 32 bones; the neck, mid, and lower back are made up of 24 movable bones, or vertebrae, whilst the sacrum and coccyx is a combination of 8 fused bones. In between the bones there are discs, which provide flexibility and mobility to the spine. The lower back, known as the lumbar spine, is made up of the bottom 5 moveable vertebra (L1 to L5). Ideally the low-back should have a 35 degree curve between L1 and L5. Interlinking the components of the back there are spinal ligaments, tendons and muscles to enable the range of movement.
What causes back Pain?
When the natural curve of the spine is in the correct position it enables the low back to remain stable, distributing the weight amongst all of the joints equally. When there is a change in the low back curve the back becomes unstable thus exacerbating stresses into certain areas, which become more vulnerable to becoming misaligned, inflamed and irritated causing pain and discomfort.
Misalignments happen often as a result of everyday life stresses. Very often it is the simple things such as poor posture, lifting poorly and sitting incorrectly that cause the spine to become misaligned. Other contributing factors can be obesity, emotional stress or a physical trauma to the body.
Back pain may be for short periods of time or can become continuous. The terms acute and chronic are often used to describe back pain:
- Acute back pain: Lasting 6 weeks or less
- Sub-acute back pain: Lasting 6 weeks to 3 months
- Chronic back pain: Lasting 3 months or longer
Your Chiropractor will take an in-depth case history which will include questions on the exact location of your pain, types of pain, exacerbating and relieving factors, referral pattern of pain, probable causes, family history and your past medical history. A full physical examination will be made involving; postural observation, spinal palpation, soft tissue assessment, orthopaedic and neurological tests. X-rays may be taken if deemed necessary. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed then your Chiropractor will discuss specific treatment options with you. This will most likely include a few stages involving spinal adjustments to realign your vertebrae which will reduce the cause of the joint restrictions and inflammation, this will allow your body to regain normal joint movement and freedom, thus alleviating the cause of your low back pain. Soft tissue work to the tight/weak associated musculature will reduce tension and minimize the chance of spinal misalignment re-occurrence and further reduce your pain. Your Chiropractor will also recommend work adaptations and/or rest and the use of ice packs to reduce inflammation. Once healing is underway heat and ice pack alternations, rehabilitation exercises involving home stretching and strengthening exercises will be prescribed to improve strength, endurance and stability.
It is important to be patient with your care as it can take weeks and sometimes months of treatment to improve and correct. Continuity of care and attending your appointments is very important as the treatments work on retraining and strengthening the muscles and ligaments that support the joints. Put simply, each visit builds on the one before.