What is Lower Back Pain?

Low back pain (LBP) is often described as sudden, sharp, persistent, or dull pain felt below the waist. LBP is very common and affects the majority of people at some point during their life. Eighty percent (80%)of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. In fact, it is estimated that low back pain affects more than half of the adult population each year and more than ten percent (10%) of all people experience frequent bouts of low back pain.

Low back pain is most commonly caused by muscle strain associated with heavy physical work, lifting or forceful movement, bending or twisting, awkward positions, or standing in one position too long. Any of these movements can exacerbate a prior or existing back disorder.

Other conditions that can cause low back pain include spinal stenosis, arthritis (osteoarthritis), spinal infection (osteomyelitis), spinal tumors (benign and malignant), spondylolisthesis, and vertebral fractures (e.g. burst fracture).

Low back pain is either acute or chronic. Acute LBP may begin suddenly with intense pain usually lasting less than 3 months. Chronic pain is persistent long-term pain, sometimes lasting throughout life. Even chronic pain may present episodes of acute pain.

Other symptoms include localized pain in a specific area of the low back, general aching, and/or pain that radiates into the low back, buttocks, and leg(s). Sometimes pain is accompanied by neurologic symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness.

Neurologic symptoms requiring immediate medical attention include bowel or bladder dysfunction, groin or leg weakness or numbness, severe symptoms that do not subside after a few days, or pain prohibiting everyday activities.

Symptoms


Back pain is its own symptom. However, there are various ways to feel back pain, and your symptoms depend on what is causing your pain and where it is affecting your spine.

Your back pain may be acute or chronic. Acute pain lasts four to six weeks, but chronic pain is persistent, long-term pain—sometimes lasting throughout life. At times, people with chronic pain can have episodes of acute pain.

Back pain may be sudden and sharp—or it may be dull. Pain may occur with movement, and it may even occur with coughing and sneezing. You may also have numbness in your arms or legs. (Leg symptoms are often referred to as sciatica caused by a pinched nerve.)

It's important to treat your back pain properly. Seek medical attention if your back pain persists—and seek immediate attention if you have back pain with any of the following emergency signs:
  • Pain is getting significantly worse
  • Pain affects every day activities
  • Severe symptoms
  • Groin or leg weakness or numbness
  • Arm or hand weakness, tingling, or numbness
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
Treating Low Back Pain With Chiropractic

Chiropractic treatment for low back pain is usually pretty straightforward. Most commonly, it's simply a matter of adjusting the lower lumbar vertebrae and pelvis to re-establish normal motion and position of your bones and joints.

Chiropractic for the low back has been repeatedly shown to be the most effective treatment for low back pain. In fact, major studies have shown that chiropractic care is more effective, cheaper and has better long-term outcomes than any other treatment. This makes sense because chiropractic care is the only method of treatment that serves to re-establish normal vertebral motion and position in the spine. All other treatments, such as muscle relaxants, pain killers and bed rest, only serve to decrease the symptoms of the problem and do not correct the problem itself.

Facts and Tips about Back Pain
  • At some point in their lives, 80% of Americans will experience back pain.
  • You can injure your back by coughing or sneezing.
  • If you have a sprained or strained back-—not a serious injury—use ice to help reduce swelling, muscle spasms, and pain for the first 24 to 48 hours after you injure your back.
  • If you have a sprained or strained back-not a serious injury-use ice first. After 48 hours, switch to heat to warm and relax sore tissues.
  • Good posture is one of the best ways to avoid straining your spine.
  • Exercising on a regular basis helps you maintain a healthy spine.
  • Each year, back pain costs Americans about $100 billion in medical bills, disability, and lost productivity.