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Low Back Pain

Low back pain can be annoying and debilitating.  So understanding your back and the causes for the pain is the first step to proceeding down the road to recovery.

Unless you have had serious trauma where bones break or grind together, and discs rupture, then soft tissue restrictions and inflammation are usually the primary causes of pain.  Even if you have had serious trauma, after the acute phase of your recovery has passed, soft tissue restrictions will play a large roll in your overall recovery.  The following are some of the items to take into consideration when determining where to work to correct low back pain: 

  • Body alignment - Is the body lined up to efficiently oppose gravity?  Is the pelvis in the right position to properly support the upper body?

  • Condition of the Tissue - Are the tissues that support the lumbar spine restricted, injured, or inflamed?  Is there pull into the tissue of the lumbar spine from above or below the region?  Is the tissue getting overworked by its current use?

  • How many structures are involved - It could be one little nagging area, or a whole group of tissues causing you pain.

The lumbar spine sits between the spine of the ribcage and the pelvis.  Those two adjacent areas have a lot of bony support (the rib cage stiffens up the thoracic spine, and the pelvis is a fairly rigid structure when compared to the lumbar spine).  So when there is extra stress either above or below, the forces usually end up being directed into the low back/lumbar region since more movement (and thus compensation) is available there.  This is one reason why low back pain is a common complaint.

The lumbar spine is supported not only on the back side by muscles and soft tissue, but on every side... front, sides, and back.  These various tissues act as a support doughnut around the lumbar spine.  You can think of it as a tire's inner tube, with the lumbar spine in the center opening.  As we move, various parts of the doughnut act to support or provide strength for our activities.  When the lumbar support tissues become injured, it is less flexible and less able to do work.  Sometimes in circumstances like this, the tissue will "lock down" to prevent movement and further injury.

There are also situations where the low back is being pulled on from either above or below.  To complicate things further, the pain may be caused by the framework of the body (the skeleton) being out of alignment.  Many cases of low back pain are actually caused by a torsion (a rotation of one side) of the pelvis.  Often people experiencing pelvic torsion are diagnosed with a "long leg."  In reality, the femur (thigh bone) connects in front of the rotational center of the pelvis, while the spine is located behind the rotational center.  When the pelvis rotates forward, the legs and feet travel (down) while the spine travels up, each moving "further away" from each other.  If this rotation only occurs on one side of the pelvis (i.e. pelvic torsion), then that leg appears to grow longer, while the low back on that side compresses (causing low back pain).

So as you can see, there are many different possible sources of back pain.  You individual circumstance needs to be evaluated to determine the contributing factors involved.

I approach the problem of back pain by viewing how the body aligns itself, and by examining the low back area itself.  This allows me to see what larger body issues might be affecting the issue of your low back pain, as well as any issues that reside locally in the low back causing direct pain.  Using this comprehensive tactic, we are able to address all the areas contributing to the low back pain and eliminate them.

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