Lower back pain: The Ultimate Guide

What is the ‘lower back’?

The lower back is the area of the spine known as the Lumbar vertebrae. This also includes the surrounding muscles, top of the hips and the lower ribs.

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain is the most common reason to miss work and the second most common reason to see a medical doctor, affecting 80% of people in their lives. In many cases this worsens and results in injury to the disc (known as a slipped disc), where patients experience symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the leg and foot.

what are lower back pain symptoms?

Lower back pain symptoms are any symptoms located in this lumbar area, such as pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, cramps or muscle tension. The nerves from the lower back supply information to the low back, bladder, sex organs and to the legs.

Therefore lower back pain symptoms can also includes problems in these areas, including sciatica and difficulty controlling urine.

lower back pain causes 

The damage may start from various reasons, most commonly:

Injuries – This could be from sports, falls, accidents or car crashes. All forms put the body under trauma and cause physical damage.

Repetitive stress – bending, sitting for long periods or standing for long times can result in symptoms of slipped disc; exercises in the gym may also cause symptoms.

All of these factors are obvious causes but sometimes it can feel random. you’re sitting still, you sneeze and suddenly, OUCH!

In these cases, this is where there has been an accumulation of problems building up over time. This may be even more low impact than some of the repetitive stressors listed above. Instead of standing for hours it may start after just 10 minutes. Or instead of hundreds of times bending to pick up heavy items, it may be that one cup of coffee.

“I get lower back pain when sitting, lower back pain when standing up and lower back pain when bending!” 

While different, all of these scenarios can cause or trigger low back pain. This is because they will negatively affect the normal mechanics of the lower back.

Sitting: when sitting the hips are flexed, stretching the joints and muscles in an unnatural way. Humans are flexible, with the ability to move in lots of ways. Sitting is very restrictive, something we are not physically designed to do! This will strain the lumbar nerves, causing pain.

Standing: when standing, if there is a misalignment in the lumbar spine, this will produce uneven tension on the nerves in the spine, causing pain. This can be made worse if there are muscular imbalances or weaknesses in the core muscles.

Bending: bending excessively will directly affect the lower back joints and nerves. They will act as a hinge, with all the pressure being put here instead of evenly through the hips and core. Ensure to lift properly and bend at the knees and hips. Lifting while bending is more likely to cause an injury

TOP TIP: lifting while bending, with rotation, is far more likely to produce damage to the nerves in the spine.

lower back pain right side or lower back pain left side?

Lower back pain on the side is caused by the misalignment of the lumbar spine, resulting in the nerves having unequal pressure. On one side the nerves will be compressed, and on the other side stretched.

The muscles will then react to try to correct this faulty posture, resulting in spasms.

Therefore the problem is not the muscles. The muscles tighten to attempt to fix the alignment problems which interferes with the nerves.

Massage is not advisable, as this would relax the muscles which are helping the body prevent this from worsening. It is best to address the poor alignment. This is often due to the alignment in the upper neck.

What about lower back pain exercise? 

As mentioned above, the alignment problem in the lumbar spine is the cause for the lower back symptoms. Therefore lower back pain exercises will not fix the problem. Potentiality, some exercises may strengthen the misalignment, worsening your condition.

The lower back exercises (see videos below) are particularly useful for prevention or once there has been some level of functional improvement to stabilise the joints.  These can offer some temporary relief, but it is advisable to see a medical professional, such as a Chiropractor, to consult with before attempting these movements. These should also be used to compliment your other treatments, such as with a Chiropractor.

Watch these videos to learn how to do the Cat Camel and McKenzie exercises.

what about lower back pain stretches? 

As mentioned above, the alignment problem in the lumbar spine is the cause for the lower back symptoms. Therefore lower back pain stretches will not fix the problem. Potentiality, some stretches will relax the muscles which are stabilising the misalignment, worsening your condition.

The lower back stretches (see videos below) are particularly useful for prevention or once there has been some level of functional improvement to stabilise the joints.  These can offer some temporary relief, but it is advisable to see a medical professional, such as a Chiropractor, to consult with before attempting these movements. These should also be used to compliment your other treatments, such as with a Chiropractor.

Watch these videos to learn how to do stretches for your lower body.

What is the traditional lower back pain treatment? 

Traditionally for lower back pain treatment, the prescribed treatment was medication (such as muscle relaxants and pain killers) and rest. In worse cases, Doctors may suggest surgery on the disc or surrounding bones. This is a last-case scenario and should only be done after exhausting all other lower back treatment approaches or in cases of emergency.

Surgery for lower back pain treatment (and any other surgery on the spine) typically works up to 50% of the time, with the majority of patients requiring additional surgeries, approximately every 10 years. This is because the surgery for slipped disc doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem, unless due to a direct injury (e.g. broken bone following a car crash). It is very common for patients to have a new slipped disc at another spinal level after surgery for slipped disc.

Some patients have found relief from other lower back pain treatments, such as massage, TCM or acupuncture, but often it is short lived. Back pain and disc problems can be devastating, making it hard to move or walk; making work, time with family and socialising near impossible. 

lower back pain relief 

The American College of Physicians updated their protocols for care in 2017 for lower back pain relief, agreeing that for chronic back pain it is better to have a collaborative approach, including Chiropractic care, exercises for slipped disc and lifestyle changes. This produces long term results and a return to normal life (learn Why We Get Back Pain, here).

Upper Cervical Chiropractic focuses on the cause of the problem, beyond where symptoms are being experienced. Upper cervical has especially good success with lower back pain relief where general Chiropractic has failed. When coupled with exercises for slipped disc, patients experience relief and a solution that lasts.

At Vitality Chiropractic we specialise in specific Upper Cervical care. Our doctors undergo post-graduate training in focused techniquesnerve tests and bio-mechanical x-rays. This gives patients a solution for slipped disc by addressing the cause, rather than the area of symptoms. This gives patients long lasting lower back pain relief.

Since 2013, Upper Cervical Chiropractor, Dr. Shaan Rai helped patients achieve greater health, relocating to Singapore in 2016 and founding Vitality Chiropractic Centres. He has an impressive track record in providing relief and solutions for people who experience nerve system problems, such as headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo or neurological conditions.

Take your life back.

For a Complimentary, no-obligation call with the Doctor or to book a Consultation, call +65 8438 9550 or email help@vitalitychiropracticcentres.com to find out if we can help you at our Chiropractic Clinic in Singapore.

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