Approximately 80% of people will experience back pain at least once in their lifetime. If you’re reading this, then chances are you are one of the 80%, or you know someone that has back pain. These days back pain seems almost unavoidable, and as a Chiropractor, treating low back pain is a daily occurrence. Low back pain can occur for a various number of different reasons but it goes without question that when it does occur it can cause a lot of discomfort and/or debilitation. Although low back pain can come in a variety of different forms and affect people in many different ways, there are common trends that I see in the clinic among patients. Back pain sufferers have certain lifestyle choices, daily habits, and movement patterns that they have in common which attribute to their back pain struggles.
Before you go diving face first into treatment options for low back pain, you may want to know some of the common causes so that you can equip yourself with a better understanding of what treatment options are available and what is the best solution for you. The majority of low back pain is of unknown etiology, meaning most patients do not suffer a serious injury or know of a recognizable trigger which caused their back pain. Most patients struggle to understand the ‘why’ behind their pain.
Most often than not, our lifestyle choices, the repetitive movements we put our bodies through, and the high loads we place on our spines over time is what leads to the insidious onset of back pain. Movements such as repetitive bending and lifting with improper technique is a big trigger of back pain. Bending and lifting increases the pressure on our spine by a whopping 200% (1), and when done repetitively and with incorrect technique, overtime it no longer becomes sustainable and it causes back pain. It just takes that one extra moment where you bend over to pick up your child for it to suddenly result in back pain and cause you symptoms.
The second commonality is a lack of movement and poor posture, particularly when seated. There is no doubt that we live in a society excessively dependent on technology, making prolonged sitting more common than ever before. You know the impact that prolonged sitting with no breaks has on your back, particularly if you have a desk job, and how it makes you feel. You have been told one thousand times before. You’ve heard multiple therapists, your friends, your family, just about everyone, except maybe your boss, beat this to the pulp. I, or anyone, cannot stress the importance of movement and what I like to call ‘postural breaks’ enough. Unsupported sitting increases the pressure on the spinal discs by 50% (1).
If your work involves sitting for eight hours per day, five days per week, you have accumulated forty hours of increased pressure on your spine. This is then followed by your car ride home (sitting), eating dinner (sitting), and watching TV (more sitting). Although there are many circumstances where sitting is unavoidable, there are certain techniques you can incorporate into your lifestyle to help alleviate some of this increased pressure from your spine, and keep your body moving and thriving. If a height adjustable standing desk is not an option for you, then make sure you are sitting on a chair with good lumbar support and think about your posture while you sit. Interrupt your sitting every 20-30 minutes by taking 30 seconds-1 minute to stretch your legs, reach your arms over head, stand up, or if you have the ability, then go for a short walk. When at home, try and minimize your sitting at home by going for a walk, change positions when watching TV, or do something else that doesn’t involve more sitting. You want to move, move, move to keep your spine moving and functioning well.
Dr Melanie Xabregas is an experienced and passionate chiropractor with a special interest in helping children experience optimal performance and longevity in dance and gymnastics. She brings a gentle, caring and friendly approach to her examination and treatment.
Available for consultations Tuesday & Friday between 2pm - 6pm