There are a great many causes of low back pain. However, oen of the most common conditions we see is low back pain due to joint dysfunction. This is a condition chiropractors may refer to as subluxation.
When verterbra in the low back function incorrectly, moving the wrong way, not moving enough, or moving too much, low back pain is the result. This joint dysfunction can be very disabling or just a pain in the back. Even when the pain is slight, however, it should not be ignored. Low grade low back pain due to joint dysfunction today may lead to incapacitating pain tomorrow. One of the theories of degenerative disc and joint disease, commonly referred to as osteoarthritis, is that these structured degerate due to lack of movement. By improving the movement of these spinal verterbrae you not only eliminate or reduce the pain but also aid in the prevention of future disabling degenerative processes.
Other causes of low back pain include irritation of the joints in the spine (a facet syndrome), irritation of the sacroiliac joints (at the base of your low back by the bumps on either side of the sacrum), sprain, strains, and disc bulges and herniations.
We often see patients with low back pain that radiates into the legs. They may have been told they have sciatica or a disc herniation. However, this often proves not to be the case. Sciatica is broadly defined as pain in the leg following the distribution of the sciatic nerve. This is a very vague diagnosis as many condition of variable severity produce this type of pain pattern. The most common cause actually does not produce pain of a neurological source. It is a sacroiliac sprain.
The sacroiliac joint is the large joint on either side of your sacrum - that triangularly shaped bone at the bottom of the spine. The joint is formed by the sacrum (sacro) and the ilium (iliac) bones. It is supported and held together primarily by dense broad ligaments. These ligaments are the joint's primary support structures. Since most of the muscles which cross the joint are long muscles they provide little in the way of joint support. When this joint is injured it is common for it to refer pain into the buttocks, upper legs, and even the calves. Generally the pain spares the knee area and is a deep dull pain. Rarely is it sharp. This type of pain helps to differentiate it from that of a disc herniation which is generally sharp. However, it must still be differentiated from the pain of a disc bulge. As both the ligaments and the outter layers of the intervertebral discs arise from the same type of embryonic tissue, they produce similar types of pain. A doctor who understands these different pain patterns can usually discern one from the other. The other major cause of low back pain is disc bulging, herniation, or degeneration.
Disc herniation in the low back can be both very painful and very debilitating. This pain usually radiates down the buttocks or into the leg and is very sharp and painful. Coughing, sneezing, and straining usually make this pain worse and increases thebuttock and leg pain. If you experience any of these condtions come in immediately and we will determine if you can wait, try a conservative treatment approach, or need to see a neurosurgeon immediately.
If you experience leg pain, numbness in the groin and inner thighs (called saddle anesthesia), incontinence of bowel or bladder function, you should immediately report to the nearest emergency room. This may be a condition called a cauda equina syndrome and unless treated surgically very soon may be permanent. Again, while not common, this condition is a surgical emergency.
While not all low back conditions will respond completely to chiropractic care, many do very well with our conservative care and do not need more aggressive therapies. If you have back pain and are looking for help in Conway, North Conway, or the Mount Washington Valley, , let us evaluate your complaint and see if chiropractic care may be of benefit to you.