The top causes of low back pain are sitting for too long, lifting heavy objects and auto accidents. Chiropractors can treat both acute and chronic back pain without surgery using chiropractic treatments and therapies.
Can you start by describing the general symptoms of low back pain including the type of pain and the duration and frequency of the pain?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah. Essentially, there’s two types of pain that we tend to treat. You’ve got acute pain, which means the pain is brand new, and it usually lasts anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. And then you have more of a chronic issue, so obviously pain has been there for a number of weeks, months, even years.
Now when you’re talking specifically about acute pain, it also usually indicates a real severe type of pain, 7+ out of 10 on the analog scale. The pain can be quite severe. It can be a sharp, stabbing pain related to someone throwing their back out per say. The chronic pain is usually the body’s figured out a way to adapting to the pain and it’s usually a little more mild in general. Anywhere it can be from a 3 to a 6 out of 10 and then you talking more of a dull, achy, stiff pain.
Obviously, being in pain is not fun regardless. The types of pain are quite important when we are talking about essentially diagnosing and treating.
What are the common causes of low back pain?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. The two biggest causes essentially that we tend to treat in our office are a trauma such as picking up something from the floor, a heavy object, being in a work environment that’s quite laborious, doing manual work or obviously being in a significant trauma such as a car accident. But the biggest issue we see that we treat in our office, is repetitive stress and the sedentary life style that essentially we’re all accustomed to living. Sedentary usually means sitting. The average American sits over nine hours a day and unfortunately the sitting and the repetitive stress over time just breaks the joint and the tissue and eventually the nerve down which can obviously lead to all sorts of issues, specifically low back pain.
Can low back pain be a sign of something more serious happening?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Pain’s just a great way of the body showing us or telling us there’s something wrong and the body is super economical so it will figure out a way to deal with the pain so we can function essentially. The longer we leave an issue i.e. pain, particularly low back pain, the more compensating that we do; obviously, the more compensation we have, it usually means more issues. For example, if you just sprained a muscle, ligament, tendon in your low back, you just ignored it, the body will figure out a way of compensating around it. This usually means that the joint and the tissue and the nerve are going to get excessive loads, they’re going to work far too hard and kind of that negative cycle at the time breaks it down. If you leave it long enough, you can be running into disc issues, degeneration issues, issues that start referring around into extremities. There are also issues such as footdrop that are far more difficult to treat essentially.
How can untreated low back pain negatively affect other areas of the body?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Yeah, exactly. It kind of follows on from what we were just discussing. If you don’t address the problem, it leads to compensation. For example, talk about the low back. Let’s say you’re in the gym, you’re performing a movement in the gym and you “pull” your low back. You go home, you leave it for a couple days, you take some NSAIDs, you feel better or you take some muscle relaxants, for example. Well, after an injury such as a lifting injury, the body’s designed to shut the spine and the joint down, it doesn’t want it to move. So, if we’re taking NSAIDs for the inflammation or we’re taking muscle relaxants to loosen the muscle up, you’re doing the opposite of what the innate response is.
As we then go to function, essentially the body has to really compensate and that compensation essentially just works out the muscle far too hard. Then the joint will be limited in its range of motion. When we have limited range of motion, you put the excess stress and tension onto the disc. When we have excess stress and tension onto the disc, then the disc starts to degenerate, can herniate and obviously that’s when we start looking at some serious issues. It’s kind of that negative circle. If you have limited function in the joint or the tissue, we have compromised range of motion, we have increased load on the joint and the tissue and that kind of negative circle eventually just breaks it down. The more compensation we have, the more we break down.
While experiencing low back pain, at what point should someone seek help and treatment?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Immediately essentially if you’re experiencing pain. Again, it’s a great way of the body telling us that something’s wrong. If you experience low back pain, even in an instant, anything that’s been there for a day or two, just go get it checked out, make sure there’s nothing serious happening. Obviously the earlier you’re on top of it, the shorter your course of treatment, less time, energy and effort you’re going to expend on getting it corrected. Also, you’re going to address it so it doesn’t lead to further issues like we’ve just discussed down the road.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.