What is back pain?
Back pain has become an epidemic in the USA. All age groups suffer from some type of back pain. The symptoms vary substantially, as does the cause of the pain. In older populations, many times the pain experienced has a degree of osteoarthritis present. In younger populations, the pain experienced is typically related to movement disorders, muscular imbalances, and postural weaknesses. Interestingly enough, if the irritation experienced by the younger populations carries for a long period of time, they will begin to experience the same symptoms as the older populations.
How has back pain become so common?
We currently live in a unique time where the current 40-60 year olds were raised in a much more physically active time. Digital media did not exist when they were younger, and as such, physical activity was more common. In the current times however, handheld devices are accessed hundreds of times throughout the day, most employees sit for the majority of their 9-5 day, and mental exhaustion leads to lethargy after work, which aids in more sitting after work and a general lack of physical activity throughout the day.
Why does inactivity lead to back pain?
You’re sitting wrong. Postural problems are currently very common in kids, teenagers and adults in their early 20s. Typically, these types of conditions wouldn’t be medically documented until the patient was working in a sedentary career job for several years.
Poor muscular function causes the spine to restrict movement. This restricted movement causes the muscles of the spine to remain taut for far longer than they need to, thus causing damage to them over time. The body is meant to bend, lean and flex. Without proper ranges of motion and core strength, the spine cannot maintain its flexibility and as such, the owner of said spine will have greatly diminished mobility. Substantial reductions in mobility not only lead to higher incidence of traumatic injury, but also a reduced quality of life. (See: You are sitting wrong, for example.).
Beyond the increased likelihood of injury, the repetitive strain of holding the body in a poor, improper structure causes the body to use muscles in the wrong patterns. The human body was built to move in very particular ways, and once those patterns break down, movement is still possible, but it leads joint damage much faster than normal.
What else can cause back pain?
Nutrition also plays an important role in the amount of pain experienced by an individual. Without a proper well rounded diet, chemicals that produce inflammation can increase and cause substantial discomfort in areas that are already being damaged. This leads to an increased rate of damage, and/or a slower rate of healing.
How can a chiropractor help?
Back pain is our bread and butter. Chiropractors are specialized in restoring motion to the joints of the spine, as well as aiding in restoration of functional movement. This starts with manual manipulations or “adjustments” done to the restricted joints of the spine, then particular muscular stretches to either stretch sore muscles, or strengthen weakened muscles (depending on the source of the back pain).
Getting a proper diagnosis is imperative, since disorders of the spine can be very complicated and feel similar, but have very different sources, each with unique treatments required.