Archive for December, 2008

Low Back Pain

December 16, 2008

Did you know that one-half of all working individuals experience low back pain in a year?  Did you know that most low back pain is caused by muscle strain?  Low back pain is extremely common and in most cases is fairly easy to treat using Chiropractic Treatment and Soft Tissue Techniques (similar to massage).

Causes of Back Pain

Lumbar Muscle Strain
Muscle strains are the most common cause of low back pain. Lumbar or Low Back Muscle strain / muscle pull / muscle tear implies damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons.  Lumbar muscle pain heals more quickly than most low back conditions.  Typical healing time is 2-6 weeks.

Ruptured Disc
A ruptured intervertebral disc, also called a herniated disc, is another common cause of back pain. Herniated discs are caused by aging, degeneration of the disc (disc disease) or injury to the spine.  The disc is the cushion between the bones of our back.  A herniation can press on an exiting nerve or the spinal cord itself causing pain, numbness, radiation, and burning.  Typical healing time is 6-12 weeks or longer.  A ruptured disc may require surgery.

Discogenic Back Pain
Discogenic back pain is thought to be a common cause of low back pain. Discogenic back pain is caused by damage to the disc, but without a herniation. Typical healing time is 6-12 weeks.

Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis causes back pain in the aging population. Stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal and is typically caused by arthritis or other conditions.  Spinal stenosis is more difficult to treat using chiropractic care and commonly requires surgical intervention.

Lumbar Spine Arthritis
Arthritis most commonly affects joints other than the spine (IE. knees and fingers). There are several types of arthritis (degenerative, inflammatory, gout, etc.)  Chiropractors most commonly treat degenerative arthritis which can cause back pain with movement.  In some cases, chiropractic care can slow or even stop the degenerative process.

Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis causes back pain because one vertebra begins to “slip” forward.  The most common cause of spondylolisthesis is due to degenerative changes causing loss of the normal stabilizing structures of the spinal column. Chiropractors have to modify treatment with sponylo.  Treatment can be very helpful for these patients.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis or osteopenia is bone loss.  Osteoporosis causes weak bones and can lead to these fractures. Chiropractors avoid traditional manipulation and use more gentle techniques or soft tissue work only in this case.  It is important to work with your MD or dietitian to reverse osetopenia or osteoporosis before damage occurs.

Back Pain Facts & Statistics (Copied from the American Chiropractic Association)

http://www.amerchiro.org/level2_css.cfm?t1id=13&t2id=68

Although chiropractors care for more than just back pain, many patients visit chiropractors looking for relief from this pervasive condition.  In fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time.1

A few interesting facts about back pain:

  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.2
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.3
  • Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.4

References:

1. Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.

2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.

3. This total represents only the more readily identifiable costs for medical care, workers compensation payments and time lost from work. It does not include costs associated with lost personal income due to acquired physical limitation resulting from a back problem and lost employer productivity due to employee medical absence. In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD, Summer 1994.

4. In Vallfors B, previously cited.

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