We loved reading a recent piece on LiveScience.com regarding how common back pain is among the general population and who it affects the most. Did you know that 9 out of 10 people suffer nonspecific lower back pain? It’s not that they don’t know where their back pain is located, but they don’t know the cause. Back pain most likely affects people aged 30 to 50. Many people will hurt themselves and feel pain in their muscles, ligaments, or discs of the lower back. They may do this by twisting, straining, or otherwise hurting their back, which could occur while lifting or doing a movement they don’t normally do. In many cases, back pain begins because most adults spend long periods of time in a seated position.

 

Where Does Lower Back Pain Occur?

A typical complaint of lower back pain could vary from a strained muscle to a disc that bulges. The latter occurs in the space between the vertebrae in your spine. When we discuss lower back pain, we refer to twinges, throbbing, shooting pains, or aches felt between the ribs and the legs. While the pain might have started on the job, it could result from any motion or too much sitting. For example, if you ride a desk most of the day and don’t exercise and stretch regularly, you could “hurt” your lower back from lifting a box weighing 40 pounds the wrong way. You might lift from the waist and forget to bend at the knees. Sudden lifting with the wrong technique could potentially use many muscles in the lower back that you don’t normally use.

 

How Common is Lower Back Pain?

We were surprised to learn that 4 out of 5 adults typically encounter at least one instance of lower back pain in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. If you’ve ever been to the chiropractor, you know the focus is putting your spine back into alignment. Any normal movement can affect your discs. We say this because the spine must support most of the weight on your frame. The muscles that were strained because your back was misaligned could quickly pull the spine out of line again. Regular physical therapy can help people suffering from lower back pain and with specific disc injuries, which commonly affect the lower back.

Some Conditions That Benefit From Physical Therapy

There are specific diseases and disorders of the spine that could quickly cause pain from your spinal discs. A disc is an intervertebral fibrocartilage that is located between two vertebrae (or bones) of the spine. People with disc problems can experience frequent pain, intermittent pain, shooting pain, throbbing, stiffness, limited motion, and discomfort that requires changing positions (i.e. moving from sitting to standing). Lifting and repetitive motions and tasks such as getting out of a chair or bed may be more difficult with a disc problem.

 

Here are some common disc ailments that we see in the physical therapy practice:

Bulging Disc or Protruding Disc (often synonymous with Bulging Disc)

The intervertebral disc bulges and may compress an adjacent nerve root or the spinal cord.

Herniated Disc or Ruptured Disc (often synonymous with Herniated Disc)

This disc might have begun as a bulging disc, but then a tear or rupture occurs. A significant intervertebral herniation may affect the nerves located near it.

Sequestered Disc

This occurs when the inner material of the disc leaks out through a tear in the disc wall and then becomes separated from it.

Degenerative Disc

Due to aging and the natural wear-and-tear on the spine, the disc breaks down. There is not a specific disease that causes disc degeneration.

Other Sources of Back Pain

Sciatica involves recurring pain that travels from the spinal cord to the legs. The spinal nerves may or may not be pinched, and pain can be intermittent or constant. What’s more, the pain could range from minor to severe. You may find it hard to find a position that reduces the pain.

Stenosis occurs when the open spaces in your spine narrow, which can pressure the nerves and cause pain.

Spinal fractures occur due to an injury or a breakdown in the bones. Some of our patients cannot point to a specific event that resulted in their spinal fracture.

 

What to Do When Back Pain Occurs

The symptoms of different back ailments, including intervertebral disc ruptures, tears, bulges, and sequestrations, can produce similar symptoms. While the most common diagnostic technique used to identify a back problem is MRI, this technique isn’t often necessary. An alternative to an MRI is to let the highly trained doctors at CPTR diagnose and treat the disc problem. We offer a Free Discovery Visit (which bears a $150 value). Please call us today at 570-208-2787 or email cawleyptfrank@gmail.com for more information.