If you have ever experienced low back pain yourself, you know how debilitating it can be. The pain can be so intense that you might even believe it will never go away. Well there is good news:
- Most causes of low back pain are not due to serious conditions
- Experts are now saying that 80% of the population (U.S. statistics) will experience some back problems in their life.
Understand Lower Back Pain
If you have ever experienced lower back pain then you understand how alarming the pain can be. It’s very natural to assume that something serious has happened which can be a source for worry and apprehension.
I’ll cover some helpful information that can assist you in better understanding what causes lower back pain and the possible alternative methods to alleviating pain.
When pain intensifies our natural tendency is to begin worrying and feeling apprehensive that what we are experiencing is serious and ongoing. It’s at times like these we need to understand and separate fact from fiction giving us a better chance to find solutions and relief is on the way.
Back pain facts:
- The spine was built to be resilient and it is actually one of the strongest parts of the human body. Surprising but true, it is actually very difficult to seriously damage our spine
- Not all causes of lower back pain are due to serious disease or an injury
- Even though pain or backaches can last for a long time that does not necessarily mean they are serious. The pain will stop in due time and you can and should still have function and mobility even with the pain
- In a large majority of the cases the pain will actually get better within a few days or weeks
- In 50% of the cases for those who experience back pain once, will have another reoccurrence a few years later. This does not indicate that it is a serious condition. After the pain has subsided they can continue all their normal day-to-day activities
- Our backs are meant for movement and mobility, and a lot of it. So the more you move, exercise and resume normal activity the better you will feel
Low Back Pain Myths
- Back strains or sprains are not torn ligaments or muscles and are not an indicator of serious back damage. Your back’s ligaments are very strong and they have very powerful and big muscles that surround and protect them
- It is actually a rare occurrence where the low back pain is caused by a slipped disc or nerve that’s trapped
- An MRI or other x-ray does not always detect a spinal injury.
- The term ‘degeneration’ in reference to lower back pain is a normal and natural occurrence that happens with age, similar to acquiring a few wrinkles or getting gray hair. It shouldn’t frighten or scare you.
Low Back Pain Severe Signs
Although we’ve identified there are a higher percentage of not so serious back pain sufferers, there are some serious conditions as well. If you experience any of the following symptoms as well then it’s time to make a visit to your doctor.
- Low back pain that persists beyond a few weeks
- Problems urinating
- Numbness around your groin area or legs
- Impaired ability to walk
Low Back Pain Causes
Keep in mind that although the back is very strong and not easily damaged, and was meant for a lot of mobility, it is still a complex structure of individual components such as bones, joints, muscles and ligaments. Having said that, let’s look at some of the conditions behind what causes lower back pain:
- Sprained ligament
- Strained muscles, or improperly balanced muscles
- Ruptured disks
- Joints are irritated
- Poor posture
- Psychological stresses
- Injury (automobile accident, work-related accident, sports injury)
Three Main Spine Segments and Low Back Pain
The spine is comprised of three main segments and each of the three acts as a well-tuned instrument or machine. Every part works together in synchronicity to give you the support, the weight bearing and the movement that you enjoy. If one of the spinal segments is damaged or deteriorates it can cause instability and lead to pain in that segment.
Top Segment: Cervical
The top seven vertebrae beginning just below the skull are known as the cervical spine. This segment has a backward curve, C-shaped. This section has greater mobility than the other two, and you experience that by the many ways, angles and directions your neck moves.
Middle Segment: Thoracic
This section consists of the largest amount of vertebrae, 12 in total, and these form a connection with your ribs known as the thorax which is the ribcage area. This section has much less movement than in the other 2 sections due to the thin intervertebral discs and less space for the nerves. The spine here is also C-shaped but the opening of the C is towards the front.
Lowest Segment: Lumbar
This segment has the smallest amount of vertebrae, only 5 altogether, but they are the largest vertebrae along the spinal column. Because of the vertebrae’s larger size there is more space for the nerves to move about. The sacrum, which is the base of the spine, is a fusion of several bones together, and it maintains a backwards C-shape. The entire length of the spine resembles the letter “S” in shape.
The lumbar segment is where most people experience their lower back pain, as this is the location that your spine bears the majority of the weight and movement. Unfortunately this is the segment that people damage the most by lifting heavier items, twisting to move heavy items, or carrying heavy objects, they place too much pressure incorrectly on this segment.