A common and complex area of pain. Many people worry that it is something more serious like a disc herniation. It is very important to not make assumptions about back pain being caused by a disc injury. Although some discs in the spine can generate pain it is more likely the pain is coming from another structure. Many times, the discs of a patient’s spine look terrible on MRI and you wonder how they could even be walking! But those are the patients that teach us to look further.
Common sources of back pain:
SI joint (Sacro-iliac joint) is where the tailbone meets the pelvis. Dysfunction at this joint can mimic sciatica type pain that travels down the leg. Swelling can occur in this joint when you are performing a repetitive motion or a prolonged motion that opens it too much such as bending forward or a deep squat position. Swelling in the SI joint can be extremely painful and debilitating. It is typically on one side or the other and cannot be alleviated with any position. We, at Back in Action, have developed specific methods to relieve the pressure of swelling in the SI joint.
Facet Joints are where the surfaces of two adjacent vertebrae meet. The joints are fluid lined and surrounded by a capsule. If we find ourselves with facet joints locking it presents as localized pain that is usually worsened with extension or rotation (bending backward or twisting). A chiropractic adjustment or manipulation can be the fastest and best remedy for this type of common back pain.
Sciatica is a pinched nerve deep in the muscles of the buttock. Its pain is very specific with a “hot poker” type feeling deep in the buttock and pain that radiates down the back of the thigh to the knee. The sciatic nerve is comprised of the last five nerves in the spine that bundle up into one large nerve as it passes from the tailbone to the back of the thigh where it splits again. A popular muscle called the Piriformis which rotates the hip can be the culprit for pinching down on this big nerve. Its what people refer to as a “pain in the butt!”
Disc Herniations in the lower back are not as common as you think as to the main cause of pain. Typically, a disc herniation occurs over time as the pressures build like an over filled water balloon. Eventually the walls will weaken, and the pressures burst causing localized back pain and nerve pain that travels down the leg in specific patterns depending on the level of disc involved. Disc herniations are NOT always surgical! There are methods of therapy and exercise that can correct the imbalances that caused the herniation and allow it to heal and reabsorb into the body. It takes hard work and commitment by the patient and the specialist treating them in order to succeed in disc herniation repair.
Did you know that a very large and powerful muscle called the Psoas or Hip Flexor has attachments to the discs in the lower back from the front side?? Hip flexors get tight from sitting all day and can be a silent cause of lower back pain and disc pain. A very important muscle to keep happy!