Low back pain is a common health problem affecting at some time more than 80% of the population – making it second in prevalence only to the common cold. Although most of us are aware that the common cold is due to a viral infection, back pain is often a mystery to most of its sufferers.
To understand back pain it is important to have a detailed knowledge of the anatomy of the spine, which consists of ‘vertebrae’ that are joined to each other by several bony articulation (joints) and the ‘inter vertebral discs’ (tough sponge-like shock absorbers). There are more than seventy joints in the spinal column alone. Adding to that, there are also tens of important muscles and ligaments that support the entire structure. The bottom end, the sacrum or sacral bone, further attaches to the pelvic bones which transmit all ground forces up through the feet and lower limbs.
Any of these structures is well equipped with pain receptors, very small fire alarms, and when something is not right within ‘the structure’ pain signals will be transmitted to the ‘wire house’, the brain.
Low back pain is thought to have many origins:
- discogenic: originating within the intervertabral discs, this is usually due to prolonged sitting which often result in lesions that allow disc material to be displaced
- Sciatic nerve impingement: this is a stressful entrapment of the sciatic nerve, and it is usually caused by, the nerve being irritated by a herniated disc, trauma to the area and, least common, pathology.
- spondylosis: more commonly called wear & tear of the spine.
- sacroiliac joint: dysfunction of these important joints are very common. They are considered the weight bearing joints that link lower and upper body. Pain in these joints may refer symptoms in the buttock and thigh and, occasionally, below the knee.
Often, any of these imbalances can affect structures further up the spine and people can develop neck and shoulder pain as well as headaches as a result of the body to naturally equalize imbalances.
Chiropractic care is effective in helping sufferers from any of these conditions.