Low Back Pain – Some Common Causes

A lot of patient’s consult us with generalised lower back pain of varying intensity and duration.

As primary health care officials are primary job is to determine the cause of your lower back pain. Hopefully in this article I will shed some light on the multi-faceted issue of lower back pain and various things we consider when formulating a diagnosis.

Common patterns of back pain:

Back pain is most commonly seen in one of 3 generic stages:

1. The acute stage- at this point back pain has only just started (the last 2-14 days) and is at its most severe. Patient’s often cannot get comfortable in any position, have severely restricted movement and struggle to straighten. They often report ‘walking like they have just gotten off a horse’ or like they are a stooped old man/woman. Patients may also feel they are bent to one side or that there pelvis is not underneath there body. Often in this stage getting from sitting to standing is one of the hardest tasks.

2. The sub-acute stage- at this point patients are often out of their intense agonising pain (2-8 weeks) and are suffering from a constant dull ache with occasional episodes of intense stabbing or shooting pains. The pain is often located in the centre of the lower back and across both sides, sometime into the buttocks. The pain can also commonly be located on one side of the back, often over the small bony dimple on either side.

3. The chronic stage- patients have had the pain for ‘as long as they can remember’ potential up to 20 or 30 years. The pain is often and constant dull stiffness that limited there movement in general when perform tasks such as putting on their socks, rolling over in bed or turning to look around in the car.
All of these stages respond well to chiropractic care. It is important to remember that you can start in any of the stages; they do not have to occur in order.

Common tissues involved in lower back pain:
The cause of lower back pain can be very simple or very complicated and this is why a thorough consultation is vital for a specific, tailored diagnosis.
Below however I have included some information on the tissues which may be involved in your complaint for any given reason.

Facet joints:
Facet joints are the small joints in between each of the vertebrae in the back. These joints allow your spine to move and bend in all directions. When these joints become inflamed and the movement is restricted the often produce pain is predictable patterns as shown in the diagram below.


referral pattern

Sacroiliac joints:
Sacroiliac joints are also known as your pelvic joints. You have one on the left and one on the right and they form part of the pelvic girdle. The can be felt by feeling the bony dimple either side of your spine, just above your buttocks.
Like facet joints, when inflamed and restricted, sacroiliac joints caused pain In an often predictable and reproducible manner.


Spinal Discs:
Spinal discs can become inflamed or can ‘bulge’ which produces pain. This is commonly known as a ‘slipped disc.’ A bulge in a disc however does not automatically mean you should have pain, a lot of people can have a bulging disc for most of their life and never experience any pain as a consequence.


Spinal Muscles:
Muscles can become aggravated for a host of reasons, most commonly due to underlying dysfunction of the above structures. Muscles like the other tissues can produce common pain patterns as illustrated below.

trigger pt

If any of the above patterns of pain or information fits how you feel contact us today to see you we can help you.

By Drew Smy (Chiropractor)

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