Low back pain is one of the main reasons why patients visit their doctor. For adults over 40, it ranks third as a cause for doctor visits, after heart disease and arthritis.
Eighty percent of people will have low back pain at some point in their lives. And nearly everyone who has lower back pain once will have it again.
Very few people who feel pain in their low back have a serious medical problem. Ninety percent of people who experience low back pain for the first time get better in two to six weeks. Only rarely do people with low back pain develop chronic back problems.
With these facts in mind, you can be assured that back pain is common, that it usually only causes problems for a short period of time, and that you can take steps to ease symptoms and prevent future problems.
The vast majority of back problems are a result of wear and tear on the parts of the spine over many years. This process is called degeneration. Over time, the normal process of aging can result in degenerative changes in all parts of the spine. Injuries to the spine, such as a fracture or injury to the disc, can make the changes happen even faster.
There is strong evidence that cigarette smoking also speeds up degeneration of the spine. Scientists have found links among family members, showing that genetics plays a role in how fast these changes occur.
The effects of spine degeneration or back injury can lead to specific spine conditions. These include:
Symptoms from low back problems vary. They depend on a person’s condition and which structures are affected. Some of the more common symptoms of low back problems are
The diagnosis of low back problems begins with a thorough history of your condition. Your doctor will ask you questions to find out when you first started having problems, what makes your symptoms worse or better, and how the symptoms affect your daily activity. Your answers will help guide the physical examination.
Your doctor will then physically examine the muscles and joints of your low back.
It is important that your doctor see how your back is aligned, how it moves, and exactly where it hurts. Your doctor may do some simple tests to check the function of the nerves. These tests are used to measure the strength in your lower limbs, check your reflexes, and determine whether you have numbness in your legs or feet.
The information from your medical history and physical examination will help your doctor decide which further tests to run. The tests give different types of information.
Hands-on treatments such as massage and specialized forms of soft-tissue mobilization may be used. They can help you begin moving with less pain and greater ease
Spinal manipulation, which has shown short-term benefits in people with acute low back pain. Commonly thought of as an adjustment, spinal manipulation helps reset the sensitivity of the spinal nerves and muscles, easing pain and improving mobility. It involves a high-impulse stretch of the spinal joints and is often characterized by the sound of popping as the stretch is done.
Ultrasound, heat, ice and electrical stimulation
Acupuncture – encourage healing and reduction in pain.
Clinical Pilates to re-educate and strengthen muscles. There is a great deal of scientific proof that exercise and increased overall fitness reduce the risk of developing back pain and can improve the symptoms of back pain once it begins. However, as a result of pain and inactivity, your muscles may become weak and deconditioned, and your back won’t function optimally. Active rehabilitation to prevent the harmful effects of deconditioning. With this active approach, you’ll be shown how to lift and move safely. And you’ll be shown how to strengthen your back muscles