The Causes of Lower Back Pain

What is Lower Back Pain?

About 80% of all adults experience lower-back pain at least a few times in their lifetime. Few other medical problems can boast such a widespread affliction rate across the population. In fact, besides from the common cold, lower-back pain accounts for more missed work days amongst people under the age of 45, than any other condition.

Beyond the numbers and statistics, lower-back pain is a debilitating affliction that can put your life to a screeching halt. Much of the time, those experiencing lower-back pain aren’t even sure what the root of the problem is. Lower-back pain can be the result of a variety or combination of issues.

We wrote this blog to help you better understand what kind of lower-back pain you may be experiencing. These are common lower-back problems that we see everyday at Advantage Healthcare of Charleston. If you think you are experiencing any of these issues, please call us (843-553-2211) to schedule a free consultation. Unchecked lower-back pain can easily develop into long lasting, chronic pain, which is often a sign of deep underlying damage to your nerves, muscles, or spine.

Injuries

To start, let’s look at one the most common causes of lower-back pain: injuries. These can take the form of strains, sprains, and trauma. Strains and sprains are usually a result of overworking or making an improper movement with your lower back. Trauma is a result of an external factor, such as a car accident or a sharp fall, causing injury. Sprains occur from a sudden, forceful movement damaging your ligaments. Ligaments connect and support your bones and joints in the lower back. Sprains affect us from overuse or poor conditioning in the muscles. While usually these occur over a period of overworking one’s muscles, when you are already out of shape, it does not take much for a sprain to cause a muscle tear.

Herniated Discs

The next common lower back injury is a herniated disc. These typically affect people in their 30’s and 40’s. They are often referred to as a “slipped,” “torn,” or “ruptured” disc. These occur when the soft center of a spinal disc squeezes through a crack in the hard exterior. While at times it can come with almost no symptoms, if it agitates a nerve, it can cause an excruciating, cutting pain that can extend down an arm or leg.

Obesity and Posture

This final group of lower-back pain causes can be corrected on our own with just a little bit of self-discipline. Obesity is one of the leading causes of health problems in America today, so it is no surprise that it is also one of the most common causes of lower back pain. Exercise and a proper diet are both proven to not only reduce obesity, but also make lower-back pain easier to avoid and recover from. Other causes include improper posture when standing or sitting for long periods of time. Standing and sitting are second nature. People rarely take a moment to pay attention to how they are carrying themselves. But just a little bit of consciousness when it comes to posture and weight can greatly relieve the lower back.

How we can help you get over Lower-Back Pain

Chiropractic care partnered with physical therapy and medical treatment has proven to be an effective method for recovery from most lower-back conditions. At Advantage Healthcare we have a Medical Doctor, a Doctor of Chiropractic, and a Nurse Practitioner on staff. This enables us to provide specialized care that’s tailored to fit your needs. From trigger point therapy (TPT) to chiropractic adjustments to therapeutic lumbar support braces, we provide our patients with the most modern and proven techniques of curing lower-back pain. All of these treatments come with the support of physical therapy and education on personal health.

Now that you understand the different forms of lower back injuries, you might have an idea of what kind of pain you’ve been dealing with. There are many other causes, such as arthritis, spinal misalignment, and nerve damage, however these require a medical professional to diagnose. If you have been experiencing any lower-back pain, then please give us a call and set up your free consultation today.

Whiplash

Whiplash is most often diagnosed in victims of car accidents but can occur as a result of any sudden force.  Some people have reported whiplash as a result of roller coasters and other thrill rides, playing contact sports, and even slip and falls. Unfortunately, most people do not realize they have whiplash when it first occurs as symptoms can take up to 72 hours to manifest.

The severity of whiplash varies and may involve discs, ligaments, joints, muscles and nerves.

Common indicators of whiplash include:

  • Neck and/or shoulder pain
  • Neck Stiffness
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Ringing of the ears

AHC uses a variety of methods to treat whiplash:

The mistake most patients make is not seeking treatment soon enough.  We recommend a comprehensive exam for anyone who thinks they could be experiencing whiplash.

Scoliosis

ScoliosisScoliosis, or curvature of the spine, is a common problem that can cause people to experience aches and pains, uneven hips and/or shoulders, difficulty breathing and a variety of other problems.  The severity of scoliosis can range from mild to severe. It generally occurs in children during a growth spurt, but can also be caused by birth defects, tumors, infections or injuries to the spine and diseases such as Cerebral Palsy. Some experts suggest a possible hereditary link.

AHC has a variety of ways to treat scoliosis, including:

Treatment is recommended even when scoliosis is mild to minimize the need for surgery in the future.

Severe cases need monitoring and treatment since scoliosis can cause heart and lung damage.

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Image: Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that can originate from anywhere in the nervous system and affects the hands and/or feet. Peripheral neuropathy is often associated with weakness, numbness, burning, tingling or pain. Patients sometimes refer to it feeling like ‘pins-and-needles’.

Neuropathy symptoms depend on the type of nerves being affected.

  1. Sensory nerves: sense sensations such as pain, vibration, temperature and touch
  2. Motor nerves: control the movement of muscles
  3. Autonomic nerves: control functions within the body such as heart rate, bladder, digestion and blood pressure.

While the exact cause of peripheral neuropathy is unknown, there are some known factors, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Medications
  • Infections
  • Inherited disorders
  • Trauma
  • Pressure on nerves

Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Burning and tingling
  • Pain in hands, feet, back, face or thighs
  • Pain more severe at night
  • Cramping
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of muscle
  • Lack of coordination
  • Pins-and-Needle sensation
  • Reduced sensation of touch
  • Poor balance
  • Slow reflexes
  • Oversensitivity

AHC works with clients to determine the type then develops a customized treatment plan.

Treatment options include:

Obesity

Obesity related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer – some of the leading causes of preventable death. More than 1/3 (36.5%) of adults have obesity. (cdc.gov)  Weight related health problems can be remedied when the body returns to a healthy BMI, which for most people is 18.5 – 24.9.

When a patient seeks assistance with weight loss and management, AHC measures BMI then discusses treatment options.  We work with patients on diet and exercise programs while addressing any pain they may be experiencing.

All of our weight loss programs include an initial exam, diet plan, exercise plan, counseling, and weekly weigh-ins.  A summary of our weight loss programs include:

  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) – rids the body of stored fat while increasing metabolism.
  • Phentermine – an FDA approved appetite suppressant designed to boost energy and curb appetite.
  • Supplement with Vitamin B12 – proven to be successful in weight loss when combined with a diet and exercise plan.

 

Numbness & Tingling

Numbness and tingling anywhere in the body is unsettling.  Many people don’t seek treatment because they feel there is either nothing that can be done, or, they will be faced with surgery.  AHC takes a non-surgical approach to numbness and tingling and we have seen excellent results.

We first evaluate a patient’s symptoms to learn the root cause, then develop a treatment plan designed to provide maximum relief.  This may include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Ultrasound
  • Dietary and exercise plan
  • Physical therapy

Pinched Nerve

A compressed, or pinched, nerve can occur anywhere in the joints, limbs or hips.  The symptoms can range from sharp, stabbing and radiating to complete numbness.  Pinched nerves are often confused with other health problems, which is why getting an evaluation is so important.  Symptoms of a pinched nerve include:

  • Shooting pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Weakness
  • Loss of coordination and/or reflexes

We first identify the pinched nerve then treat it with chiropractic care, massage and physical therapy.

Neck Pain

Pain in the neck and shoulders not only disrupts everyday activities, but it can be a sign of a more serious problem.  We take all pain seriously, especially neck and shoulder pain.

Common cause of neck pain include:

  • Injury
  • Infections
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disorders
  • Disease
  • Tumors
  • Sleeping in wrong position
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive Motion
  • Holding head in unusual position
  • Whiplash
  • Nerve root impingement
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Instability or looseness in neck and shoulders
  • Arm or collarbone fractures

It is important to get any type of neck or shoulder pain evaluated as soon as possible.  Common symptoms of neck pain include:

  • Stiffness or loss of flexibility
  • Sharp pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • General soreness
  • Trouble gripping or lifting objects
  • Radiating pain that can include the shoulders and arms

Neck pain treatment options include:

Muscle Spasms

A muscle spasm occurs when the muscle tenses up and does not relax. This can result in inflammation, tremors, twitches or throbbing, which is generally uncomfortable and painful.  Muscle spasms are generally caused injury or illness, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Injuries
  • Slip and Falls
  • Dehydration
  • Poor posture
  • Improper neck support
  • Sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time
  • Heat
  • Artery blockages
  • Diabetes
  • Renal diseases

One of the best ways to help prevent muscle spasms is to stretch before engaging in any physical activity including exercise and sports. Once we discover the cause, we can treat muscle spasms using a combination of chiropractic care, massage, trigger point injections and physical therapy.

Knee Pain

Knee pain and stiffness is a common condition. The knee is subject to direct force each time you take a step and even when standing in place. The knee acts as a hinge for the leg but is much more complex as it twists and rotates as well. The knee relies on bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to work together for it to properly function.

A major cause of knee pain is when the fluid filled sack in the knee joint, called the Bursa, loses fluid and eventually causes bone to bone contact resulting in pain. Osteoarthritis is another cause of knee pain.  People with osteoarthritis are encouraged to utilize non-impact methods of exercise such as cycling or swimming.

Knee pain symptoms can vary. Often times the pain can subside on its own within a few days or weeks. Sometimes the pain can become constant or radiate into other body parts, such as the upper back or feet.

Knee Pain Video

Patients with knee pain may experience:

  • Swelling and Stiffness
  • Redness and warmth to the touch
  • Weakness or Instability
  • Popping or crunching noises
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain with standing, walking or running

Knee pain can be caused by injuries, arthritis, problems with ligaments, tendons or fluid-filled sacs (bursa) that surround the knee joint. Knee pain can also be linked to problems with the cartilage, ligaments and bones that form the joint itself.  Excessive weight, lack of muscle flexibility or strength, sports and previous injuries can also contribute to this painful condition.

Knee pain treatment may include:

Hormone Imbalance

Hormone imbalances can negatively affect various systems in the body.  There are several types of hormones that can become imbalanced including: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, thyroid and insulin

Symptoms of low hormones vary with each person and can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Low libido
  • Sugar and/or salt cravings
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Weight gain
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Hot flashes

Once we determine what hormones are out of balance, we develop a hormone replacement treatment plan designed to ease symptoms.  We use bio-identical hormones rather than synthetic hormones to help ensure your replacement hormones are of the same molecular make-up.