Low Back Pain; A Universal Problem
Osteoarthritis is commonly considered a "wear-and-tear" process and is associated with degenerative changes in the disc, which results in an altered relationship (derangement) between adjacent vertebrae. This derangement causes an increased strain, as well as a loss of motion of the gliding joints of the spine. These gliding joints (facets) are found in pairs, along the entire spine, and their function is to allow for movement and flexibility of the spine. When these facet joints are subjected to repeated trauma from excessive strenuous athletic activities, heredity, weak abdominal muscles, and the inevitable aging process, low back and/or leg pain is commonly experienced.
Degenerative changes in the disc or an altered function in the facet joints, for whatever reason, contributes significantly to the "wear-and-tear" process, placing a strain upon this important area of the spine. The osteoarthritis spine becomes less flexible, and therefore becomes more vulnerable to injury. A simple unexpected or forced movement, physically heavy work, improper posture, frequent bending or lifting, all these can produce strain and injury to these facet joints.
As the Intervertebral disc narrows, it loses height, mobility, and often forms bony spurs which may irritate the spinal nerve roots as the disc space narrows.
Specific chiropractic adjustment of the spine improve spinal mobility and unlock the facet joints helping to relieve the accompanying muscular, ligamentous, and tendon contractions, as well as the mechanical or reflex irritation of the nerve root. It is important to follow the specific instructions of your doctor regarding your work activity, leisure activity, exercise program, weight control, occupational factors, and frequency of visits in order to achieve the optimum relief from your back pain and to prevent recurrence.
Instructions for Home Care for a Low Back Injury
When convalescing from a back sprain or strain or acute disc injury, the following are recommended:
- Do not apply heat unless instructed by your chiropractor.
- Do not take hot tub baths with acute low back problems until instructed to do so.
- Do not sleep on soft bed. Sleep in a firm bed, king-sized bed, or sleep alone. To arise, turn to unaffected side, draw up knees, place feet on floor, push yourself to sitting position sideways, stand straight up keeping back straight.
- Do not sleep on your abdomen unless instructed to do so by your chiropractor. Sleep on your side with one or both knees slightly bent. If on your back, place pillow under knees.
- Do not sit on soft or deep chairs or sofas.
- Do not walk up or down stairs more than absolutely necessary. Do not walk on rough terrain.
- Do not lift heavy objects. When lifting bring objects close to you, using your legs in lifting, not your back.
- Do not stoop forward with knees straight. Squat down, using your knees and strong leg muscles, not your back.
- Do not stand for long periods of time. If necessary such as for ironing, keep one foot on low stool. This will relieve backache.
- Do not drive during the acute/pain state unless absolutely necessary. Try to have a friend or family member drive you to the office until you ask your doctor about driving yourself.
Should symptoms recur, consult your chiropractor promptly.
SUDDEN BACK INJURY
Many severe attacks of back pain develop from something as insignificant as bending over a bathroom sink, reaching to pick up some small item, sneezing, or reaching into low cabinets. Usually, there has been a series of small accidents leading up to this cause for the back injury. Heavy lifting, falls or severe strain are early precipitating factors in many back injuries. Usually they have occurred at some previous time and have been forgotten.
Faulty spinal dynamics are often a cause of severe back pain. Faulty spinal alignment, over a period of time, will cause gradual weakening of disc fibers and other ligaments. In this weakened condition, sometimes all it takes to cause severe back injury is the leverage of a simple movement, such as reaching into the cupboard.
When such an incident occurs:
1. Lie down immediately in any position that is comfortable.
2. Have someone place 6-10 ice cubes in a plastic bag and apply this pack directly to the area of pain. Cover with a towel. Keep the pack in place for 20-30 minutes. This will hurt at first, but after several minutes the area will be desensitized and you will feel better. Do not remove the pack until 20-30 minutes have elapsed. Reapply ice as instructed by your doctor.
3. Call your doctor of chiropractic, and make arrangements to go to the office as soon as possible. In some cases, it may be suggested that you remain at home in bed for a period of time.
4. Do not sit in a recliner of any kind, as this will aggravate the condition.
5. Maintain a positive outlook. Under chiropractic care, back injury conditions usually respond favorably. However, it takes time, so be patient. Let your doctor of chiropractic determine what is best for your condition.