My Low Back Hurts! Now What?

Quad Cities Chiropractor

Davenport Chiropractors


Causes Of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of those things that everybody seems to have at some point in their lifetime. There are many causes for low back pain. There are repetitive actions that can cause muscular imbalances, which can lead to bony mis-alignment, which can lead to degenerative changes in the spine. This is a long process over the course of years, but it illustrates the point that little things can lead to major problems. There are the traumatic injuries like a fall or a car accident that are obviously going to cause low back pain. There is the classic problem of lifting things that are too heavy and injuring yourself. Posture can also be a source for low back pain symptoms. There are so many possibilities that we will not be able to discuss them all, so we will hit the highlights and discuss some treatment options.

1. Lifting Heavy Objects Without Proper Stabilization

Let’s get the most obvious problem out of the way: Lifting heavy things without proper lifting technique or stabilization. I like to think of your low back as your complete midsection. The front and back work together to perform all movements. As one tightens the other has to stretch. There are many layers to your midsection and lower back. If one of those layers is not working in conjunction with the others, this is when injury occurs.

The odd thing is that we do damage when we lift heavy things without stabilization, but this is usually not the event that puts us on the ground writhing in pain. When we lift heavy objects, we often brace our midsections somewhat, and this causes our muscles to coordinate. When they get out of sync is  when we go to pick up something light and don’t properly brace. This is often when we put excessive pressure on one muscle to do all of the work. This overloads the muscle and the body will cause pain and spasms to prevent you from overloading that muscle again.  For Help With This Issue, See Section B Below.

2. Muscular Imbalances That Happen Over Time

I would have to say that in my experience, this has to be the most common condition that I see. It usually starts with something hardly noticeable. You do something that causes you to avoid a certain movement. This causes you to walk a little differently, or sit a little differently, or sleep differently. Over time you begin to overuse a certain muscle or muscles. You won’t notice it at first, but as the muscle becomes more overworked, you may begin to experience pain, fatigue, and even cramping. These imbalances can also lead to other muscles becoming weaker from not being used. This is also a problem if you need that muscle at a critical time, like falling. Poor posture is also a big reason for improper motor patterns.

When muscles are tight over a long period of time, they tend to get bigger. As they get bigger, they exert more force on the bones that they attach to. This can cause the bones where they attach to become restricted in movement. This can perpetuate the problem even further. These muscles also exert more force at their attachment sites. This can cause the muscle to begin pulling away from bone and cause the body to put down more bone to keep the muscle from completely pulling away. This is commonly referred to as arthritis. For Help With This Issue, See Section A Below.

3. Traumatic Injuries

Traumatic injuries happen from time to time. Car accidents, work accidents, and falls just to name a few, can lead to lower back injuries and pain. Most people will tend to get checked out by a medical doctor after an accident. The main courses of action for a medical doctor are x-rays, muscle relaxers, and pain killers. Because we have already talked about how muscular imbalances can lead to bigger problems, you may see why this is not the most effective treatment for this.

Typically there are muscle spasms, improper motor patterns due to pain, and actual damage to the muscle. As we talked about in the previous section, this can lead to long term problems if not resolved. I have written an entire post on Traumatic Injuries and Chiropractic Care. Problems that arise from traumatic injuries tend to be more complicated to deal with. So no matter what, you should get checked out by a healthcare professional.  For Help With This Issue, See Section A Below.

Treatments For Low Back Pain

The treatments for lower back pain are varied. They range from seeing a Chiropractor, a medical doctor, physical therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, or even a surgeon. I have written about the differences in Medical Professionals In The Quad Cities before and won’t go over that all here. I will focus primarily on the treatments that I have found to be the most effective in my practice.

A. Chiropractic Care In Davenport

Davenport is the birthplace of Chiropractic, so there is absolutely no better place to receive Chiropractic care. Chiropractors are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat lower back conditions. We evaluate which muscles are tight, which muscles are weak, and any motor patterns that are not working the way that they should. We can treat muscular issues with soft tissue therapy like trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and massage. After treating the muscular issues, we can identify if there are any bony mis-alignments. We can also correct the bony mis-alignments all in one visit.

After we get the muscles calmed down and the bones where they are supposed to be, we focus on stretches and exercises for you to do at home. This way we can treat the effects of the underlying issue at the office and you can work on the underlying cause of the issue with stretches and exercises at home. Not only do we fix the root cause of the problem, this also helps to get rid of the pain. There may be some of those long term bony changes happening already. We cannot change this, but often correcting the underlying cause can prevent these problems from getting worse.

B. Core Stability In Davenport

Prevention is the biggest tool we have in preventing lower back pain. Most of the issues that we have discussed, except traumatic injuries, can be easily prevented by doing some simple exercises. Core stability refers to the ability to stabilize your midsection and lower back when performing movements. By stabilizing your core before moving, you are giving your body a solid base to perform that movement. By activating this large group of muscles, you are less likely to activate muscles in the wrong order. When you have a strong core and use it every day, you begin to activate it without thinking about it. This is built in defense for lower back pain.

(Always consult a health care professional before starting this or any other exercise program.)

The big three exercises are the plank, the side plank, and the bird dog. Planking stabilizes you in a front to back motion. It stabilizes you and prevents bending forward too much, or sticking out your belly too far. Side planks stabilize you in a side to side motion. It stabilizes you and prevents you from bending to far one way or the other. Start by doing each of these exercises one time a day for 10 repetitions of 5 second holds. If this is too much, hold for 2 or 3 seconds until you can go for longer. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to hold each of these positions for 60 seconds. These are our strong positions. Now we need to be able to use this strength during movement.

Bird dog exercises consist of moving your opposite arm and leg out while having your stomach braced. This is coordinating proper muscle activation. Start on your hands and knees and alternate kicking your opposite arm and leg out at the same time. Do 10 reps for each side one time a day. This will give you a great start on the road to better movement.

If you are looking for a great Chiropractor in the Quad Cities, give me a call at 563-388-6364. Get Adjusted and Be Well!

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