Lower back pain is far from an uncommon condition. At some point in their lives, up to 80% of adults will experience low back pain in one form or another. Low back pain does not discriminate – men and women are equally affected. The pain can range from occasional sharp sensations to a constant dull ache. Even with this variety, there are some common conditions that can be attributed to low back pain:
- Disc degeneration – Discs can wear thin and lose their normal ability to withstand stress.
- Sprains and strains – Ligaments, tendons, and muscles can become injured.
- Herniated discs – The soft, inner material of the disc can be forced outward, causing pain and putting pressure on the nerves.
- Sciatica – Low back pain can radiate down through the hip, buttock, and back of the leg along the course of the sciatic nerve.
- Spondylolisthesis – Vertebrae can slip or shift out of place causing pain and pinching nerves that branch off from the spinal cord.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Low Back Pain?
Understanding some of the risk factors for developing low back pain can help you avoid more chronic episodes. Some risk factors, such as fitness level and weight, are within our control. Others, such as age and genetics, are not. Doing what we can to stay active and flexible can help avoid ongoing bouts with lower back pain.
If your back pain just won’t quit, then identifying the underlying cause of it can help you find the relief you’re looking for. While many people know that chiropractors can help with back pain, what may not be as well-known is that low back pain doesn’t always originate in the low back. Oftentimes, low back pain is a result of a series of compensations that occur because of a misalignment that happens elsewhere in the spine.
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The Upper Cervical Spine and Your Low Back
The vertebra that sits at the very top of the neck, called the atlas, is the most movable one of the spine. Because the atlas is so freely movable, it can also be prone to misaligning due to injury or wear and tear. When this happens, without thinking about it, the body starts to compensate. The shoulders and hips become uneven, and muscle tension increases on one side more than the other. This can cause muscle spasm, pain, and abnormal pressure on the discs and nerves in the lower back.