An image that highlights lower back pain.

What causes lower back pain?

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), lower back pain affects roughly 80% of the population at some point within their lifetime.  It is important to understand that lower back pain can arise from many different systems in the body.  Most commonly, pain in the low back is attributed to the surrounding muscles, joint complexes, nerves, and discs.  Click Here to read about 4 causes of low back pain.

Called "mechanical" low back pain, pain arising from the musculoskeletal system is easily treated with conservative care such as chiropractic and physical therapy.  However, other sources may require further attention.  Problems originating within the internal organs may manifest as discomfort in the low back.  Called "referred pain", structures such as the kidneys and colon commonly refer pain to the lower back..  These symptoms can closely mimic that of mechanical low back pain.  It is crucial to always get the proper diagnosis and treatment in order to prevent further issue.

Low back pain can also be caused by external factors such as diet and exercise.  Diets that are low in fiber and water intake are at higher risk for constipation.  Ask anybody who has not had a bowel movement in several days how their back feels!  Lack of adequate exercise and activity are also contributing factors.  So if you happen to have lower back pain and notice that you have not had a solid number 2 in a few days, chances are that there is a correlation!

What could be contributing to mechanical low back pain?

Statistics on low back pain in sports.
When trying to figure out why someone may have low back pain, the chiropractor must first rule out any red flags.  A thorough subjective history is conducted in order to get an understanding of the person's family history, social habits, previous injuries, etc.  Examination of the abdominal system, lungs, and kidneys are performed when there is suspicion of their involvement.  When the chiropractor comes to the conclusion that the pain is mechanical in nature, a thorough assessment is done.  An orthopedic evaluation will consist of various tests to provoke pain in the low back.  Orthopedic tests are necessary to rule in or out potential structures.  For example, it is helpful to know that the patient's discomfort is the result of facet joint irritation and muscle strain rather than disc herniation and nerve irritation.
  • Facet Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Disc Derangement
  • Disc Bulge/Herniation
  • Lumbar Muscle Strain
  • Stenosis
  • Arthritis

How do you assess lower back pain?

Commonly, low back pain is a product of dysfunction elsewhere.  For example, a golfer that has poor mobility in his hips may generate his power during the swing with increased lumbar movement leading to issues in the low back.  In addition, damage within the hip itself can refer pain to the low back area.  By getting the patient to move, the chiropractor can visualize the dysfunctions that may be related.  One common test used at Elite Chiropractic and Performance is the overhead squat test.  It allows the chiropractor to evaluate the function of the ankles, knees, hips, low back, upper back, and shoulders simultaneously.  One common finding in individuals with lower back pain is the inability to properly hinge through their hips during the squat.  As a result, there is increased load through the lumbar spine that also correlates with menial bending tasks such as cleaning.  A proper movement assessment is vital to establish an effective rehab and fitness plan, but also to limit complications of re-injury.  Click here to learn about our functional approach to treatment.

Low Back Pain Prevention Exercise

How To Deadlift Without Back Pain

How Do You Get Rid Of Lower Back Pain?

At Elite Chiropractic and Performance, the first task is to perform the above (subjective history and evaluation).  During the initial evaluation, special focus will be pain to the upper back, hips, and lower extremities in addition to the low back.  An individualized treatment plan is formulated to address the various findings.  We have many tools in the tool box and take pride in our ability to apply the right tool(s) for the job.  Chiropractic adjustments, or joint manipulation, are used to improve the mobility within the joints themselves.  Soft tissue treatment can be used to lessen the tension and/or spasm within the surrounding musculature.  Muscles such as the hip flexors, hamstrings, and erector spinae are commonly associated with pain in the low back.  The main goal for hands on treatment, as well as therapeutic modalities, is to decrease low back pain so that the patient can move pain free.  It is the next step that is arguably the most important.  Strengthening and improving the overall function of the core and diaphragm as well as enhancing hip strength and mobility is vital to preventing future pain and injury.  At Elite Chiropractic and Performance, we incorporate functional rehab and corrective exercise to further optimize the system.  Individualized strength and fitness plans can also be implemented in order to assure long term results.