Low Back Pain

Back Pain Is Painful and Humbling

Low back pain is a very common condition that affects many people every year.  Some people have one episode every few years, and they have 1-2 episodes of low back pain every year.  Some people have daily chronic low back pain that limits their home, work, and recreational activities.

We see people with low back pain every day.  Most times they describe dull and sharp pain in their low back with sitting, standing, getting up from a chair, or lifting.  They feel very uncomfortable sitting at their desk working, and the pain is distracting.  They are amazed at how much their pain reduces their work productivity and alters their life.

The average case of back pain causes people to avoid their normal recreational and social habits for a week.  Time with their spouse and children completely changes because of their pain and mood.  They are fatigued and crabby for a week.

They soon get better and forget how much their back pain changed their life.  Unfortunately many of these same people end up with more and more episodes per year of back pain.

Low back pain is often caused by our posture, habits, and past injuries.  Many people like to blame their pain on one instance in life.  It is true that they probably did damage the area but it didn’t mean they will have chronic back pain because of that injury.

Many back injuries continue to cause problems because the back muscles, tendons, or ligaments did not heal correctly, and we ended up compensating to protect the area.  Sometimes our body does not shut the compensation mechanisms off and return to normal mechanics, which ends up leading to greater risks of future back injuries.

I have seen many people with chronic low back pain that ended up returning to a “normal” pain free life.  Usually these people had to hit rock bottom and change their “bad habits” and form “good back habits.”

The old postures and habits were continuing to increase the likelihood of low back pain, and by substituting those habits with good ones their pain decreased.  Many people do not realize how much their daily habits strain their back.  By working on improving their habits they begin to notice daily improvement in fatigue and muscle spasms.

The body has different compensation mechanisms after experiencing a back injury, which are designed to protecting the injured joints from additional injuries.  However, those compensation mechanisms need to be shut off and changed back to standard operating procedures.

People with chronic low back pain usually have weakness in several distinct muscle groups, and their muscles do not work together properly.  For any movement, there is a complex series of muscle contractions that should occur in an exact order.  Compensation spasms tend to disrupt the order of contraction, which increases the chances that the back won’t be able to protect itself in the future. We will be able to perform many activities but there will be greater stress on certain muscles and joints.

This is very common phenomenon.  Whenever someone says, “I always get pain when I do this” or “can perform this activity for 20 minutes but 40 always causes me pain,”  I know this person has a muscle pattern dysfunction that can be improved with treatment.

Treatment will focus and helping the injured area recovery.  It will also be focused at improving the muscle patterns that overwhelm the area.  Research has shown that people can improve their muscle patterns, and the improvement leads to less back pain.

I have never had a patient show progress on their muscle strength, coordination, and muscle pattern recruitment and not have less low back pain.  Most people end up being surprised by how much improvement they obtain.  On more than one occasion a patient said they expected to get better, but did not believe they could ever feel this good.

If you are experiencing low back pain remember that you can improve and feel better.  Low back pain doesn’t have to be a permanent disability or limitation.  You will be able to get back to your home and recreational activities, and feel better doing them.

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