In order to properly treat back pain, you first have to understand what is causing it. There are several conditions that can cause back pain. We have listed some of the more common causes below. We advise against trying to make your own diagnosis. As chiropractors, we deal with back pain complaints on a daily basis and know what to look for and what questions to ask you to determine the cause of your pain.
- Muscle strains and muscle spasms tend to be the most common thought of low back pain causes but what most people don’t realize is that spasms typically have an underlying cause themselves. Muscles will typically spasm in order to stabilize an area in the spine that is in an unstable state, usually caused by a subluxation. Patients may or may not remember the initial event that triggered their muscle spasm, which can be incredibly painful. Many times we find that correcting the subluxation relieves the muscle spasm.
- Herniated discs are ruptured intervertebral discs and are another common cause of back pain. The terms ruptured, herniated, slipped and bulging disc don’t really have precise definitions to distinguish one from another and are often used somewhat interchangeably to describe protruding disc material. This is usually caused by significant trauma or as a result of degenerative processes, typically caused by dysfunction in normal spinal mechanics, i.e. subluxations.
- Damage to the intervertabral disc can cause discogenic back pain, but without disc herniation. This can sometimes be a pre-cursor to a herniated disc and caused by the same processes. Thankfully, chiropractic care has been found to help reduce this type of pain by reducing the stress place on the disc through specific chiropractic adjustments.
- Nerve irritation is probably one of the most common causes of back pain we see. When you have a subluxation, it can narrow the foramen, or hole, that the nerve passes through from the spine. This can compress the nerve as well as pull, stretch and rub the nerve causing irritation. This can also occur with herniated discs as well. In instances like the sciatic nerve, which originates in the low back, you may feel the pain all the down your leg. Spinal stenosis is also a form of nerve pain in which the spinal canal becomes constricted from herniated discs or other conditions.
- Arthritis is most commonly thought of as affecting joints in the knees, hands or fingers. However, arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the joints of the spine. Some are specific while others are just general arthritis caused, again, by dysfunction in the normal spinal mechanics that create wear and tear on the joint. Some attribute arthritis to old age, however, if this were the case we would expect to see it throughout the spine and not just specific areas.
- Spondylolisthesis is a cause of back pain when an adjacent vertebra becomes unstable and begins to “slip.” This can be seen on an x-ray as the vertebra moves anterior, or forward, compared to the one below it. The most common cause of spondylolisthesis are degenerative changes causing loss of the normal stabilizing structures of the spinal column. Stopping these degenerative processes by restoring proper motion to the area is key.
As stated earlier, back pain is hard to self-diagnose. The causes listed above are just a few of more common possibilities. If you suffer from acute or chronic back pain, give your chiropractor in Tulsa, Dr. Schluter, a call at (918) 664-3571. We are happy to sit down and discuss you problems with you and help you understand them better. Find out how we can help you today!