Common Causes of Low Back Pain in Cape Girardeau, MO
Bulged Lumbar Discs
The spinal disc is the shock absorber or the cushion in between individual vertebrae. I describe discs like a jelly doughnut. The fibers that are around the outside of the disc are like the doughnut and the nucleus, which is a gelatinous material, is like the jelly of the doughnut.
Over time, the discs can wear down and dehydrate. When that happens those fibers begin to tear, especially if you have an injury, pick something up incorrectly, or get into an accident. If those fibers tear enough the gelatinous nucleus takes the path of least resistance and moves toward the outside of the disc, creating a bulge. That bulge puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine and that creates pain in your low back that can also radiate down your leg.
Herniated Lumbar Discs
Like with bulged discs, the outside fibers can begin to tear and the nucleus can start to move towards the outside of the disc. If the fibers tear enough, the nucleus can actually break through the exterior of the disc and sit on a nerve ending. Herniated discs tend to create more leg pain, then low back pain, and they also create more intense pain. When the disc ruptures, that takes the pressure off the low back area, but it creates a lot of pain down into the leg because the nucleus is out of the disc and sitting on the nerve.
A natural way for the herniated disc to resolve itself is a process called fago se cytosis – your body sees the nucleus as a foreign object so it will inflame to try to help eat up that nucleus and reabsorb it. If that doesn’t work, it can create pain that is usually enough to cause people to start to look into surgery. We try to treat herniated discs naturally, but after a certain course of treatment surgery may be the only option.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease is an age related condition where the discs begin to break down. (Obesity, smoking, and work that is hard on the spine can also contribute to Degenerative Disc Disease.) Similar to a bulging or herniated disc, as discs become dehydrated and break down they start to lose their natural height. A fully hydrated disc has height to create proper openings for the nerves to emerge from the spine and travel throughout the body. When the disc starts to shrink, the foramen – the holes that the nerves come out of – start to get smaller, irritating the nerves. This is what creates that low back pain and potentially radiating pain.
Unfortunately, with Degenerative Disc Disease, whatever damage has been done typically can not be reversed, but it can be slowed. This is why it’s so important to get treatment as soon as possible whenever you’re dealing with low back pain.
Spinal Stenosis can create a lot of significant symptoms, mainly because pressure can be put on the spinal cord as well as the adjacent nerves. Usually with Spinal Stenosis people will find that standing or walking can aggravate their pain and that resting, sitting down, or even bending forward can help relieve some of that pressure. Not only can it cause pain, but it can also cause weakness, numbness, or organ dysfunction – like your bladder or your gown. Those are emergency situations and you need to contact a medical doctor immediately.
Muscle strains are the most common causes of low back pain. They tend to be dull and achy, and the pain is intensified with movement or putting yourself into certain positions. Normally the pain stays localized in the lower back versus radiating into your legs or other areas. Muscle strains can be caused by sudden activity, over time with repetitive motion, poor posture, or weak core muscles.
Muscle strains usually resolve in four to six weeks, but we want to address them early if possible because, a lot of times, they are a symptom of a more root problem. This is why, at Elevation Chiropractic, we always try to attack the root cause of the problem versus just addressing the symptoms.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum – the triangle bone at the base of your spine – meets the pelvis. This joint isn’t built to move a lot and problems can be created by hypermobility, moving too much, or hypomobility, moving too little. 15-30% of all low back pain cases are caused by SI joint dysfunction. The SI joint works to absorb the shock between the upper body and the pelvis and legs. Causes of SI joint dysfunction are leg length discrepancies, pregnancy, giving birth, or repeatedly stressing the joints.
Facet Joint Dysfunction
Facet joints are the joints at the back of the spine where the vertebrae meet. There’s cartilage inside of those joints that, over time, can start to break down and become inflamed. People that have facet joint dysfunction normally feel pain when they go into extension, meaning they lean back, or if they’re standing for long periods of time because that loads those joints.
Subluxation is the dysfunction that chiropractors are looking for and that they treat. Subluxation is dysfunction in the spine, or misalignment of the spine, which creates pressure on the nerves. The nerves are then what create the symptoms and the low back pain.
Specific chiropractic adjustments are the only solution to a subluxation. You can do all of the stretches and exercises that you want, but if a vertebra is stuck out of alignment or is not moving properly, until you get that motion back or correct the alignment, you’ll continue to have issues.