The 3 Most Common Causes of Back Pain
Today many people around the world suffer from acute to chronic back pain. WebMD states that it is the leading cause of disability in people younger than 45 years old in the USA. In Canada, back pain is the one of the most common chronic conditions in Canada, where 4 out of 5 adults will this problem in their lives. The are many causes as listed on WedMd and Statistics Canada, but for the purposes of this blog, I will group these causes into the three most common ones that we have seen and are commonly treating at Bodiworks Institute.
1. Poor Posture
Here at Bodiworks Institute we see and treat back pain that is caused mainly by poor posture via structural abnormalities and/or inherited conditions such as scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis.
Scoliosis is what we mainly treat where the spine is abnormally curved laterally. Kyphosis is where the spine is excessively curved outwards leading to a hunched back posture. While Lordosis is where the spine is excessively curved inwards leading to a swayed back posture.
These three positions place the spine in an abnormal alignment that can lead to spinal stenosis which is the narrowing of the spinal canal where the spinal cord travels through; bone loss through possible bone or other structures rubbing on bone, age, inflammation (also called osteomyelitis) and poor diet; and degenerative disc disease (discs shrinks) via continued compression from being in one position too long.
I use osteopathic manual techniques (OMT) to help re-align the spine. For example, in treating Scoliosis I first release the muscles around the spine that keep the spine in the lateral curve. This curve causes a lot of pain, and if left too long, makes it difficult for the patient to move and complete daily tasks.
Next, I work directly on the spine, gently moving the vertebra to get it back to its proper position. OMT helps get the body back into its proper alignment so that the body can function properly, as we believe that retuning the structure to its proper placement leads to a return to its proper function. This process takes time as the body was in a holding pattern of the lateral curve for many years.
Finally, the Kinesiologists and I, use the appropriate exercises to help maintain these correct postures. We help each patient according to their specific needs, by strengthening the weak muscles that can help pull back the spine into its proper position. Conversely, we help reverse this lateral curve by stretching the tight muscles which hold this curve and prevent it from going back to its proper position. These tight muscles work against these weak muscles.
2. Poor Body Ergonomics
Another cause of back pain is poor body ergonomics, or in other words poor and wrong body movement. Poor ergonomics include:
- repetitive movements,
- poor and wrong lifting and moving,
- and quick and awkward movements.
Repetitive and wrong movements go hand in hand, such as a factory worker standing and rotating to the left to work a machine, or a warehouse worker quickly loading a skid or truck for delivery without bending his or her knees, or a employee typing out reports for many hours a day without taking a break.
These poor mechanics can lead to acute and chronic pain; nerve impingements, leading to possible numbness and weakness in the arms or legs; and muscle imbalances aka mechanical deficiencies. Mechanical deficiencies such as spondylolisthesis (where the vertebrae move out of place), bulging discs (lesser form of herniated discs), and herniated discs aka slipped discs, can be the end result of improper ergonomics leading to back pain.
Also, vertebral bone loss can occur with improper movement leading to it wearing down, and degenerative disc disease too from continued mis-use.
At the Bodiworks Institute we treat and teach our patients using techniques (ergonomics) such as proper sitting, standing, and lifting. This application occurs after we have identified the improper movements specific to each patient, and correct them when we treat and train them. I personally use these techniques with my patients, after using OMT to get the body in the right position, which helps keep the body moving properly. OMT ensures that my patient’s body stays balanced as it moves during work and play.
In fact, we test prospective workers on how they move to see if they can handle the rigors of working in places like warehouses and factories.
The third cause of back pain is from work and sports Injuries and car accidents. These injuries can lead to herniated discs through improper lifting techniques, fractured vertebrae from falls, car accidents or impacts from sports injuries, and stains and strains along with muscle spasms that can pull the spine off line or compress the disc spaces between the vertebrae. Interestingly, arthritis (joint disease, causing stiffness, swelling and inflammation), ankylosing spondylitis (inflammatory disease that affects the joints between the vertebrae) and osteoarthritis (cartilage and bones break down) can also develop via these trauma events.
Here is where I use OMT mainly, as an adjunctive treatment with physiotherapy and massage therapy. We also advocate using preventative measures such as using the proper techniques listed in the last section and by encouraging exercise, healthy eating, de-stressing techniques and counselling to all of our patients. These measures show that sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, being overweight, high levels of stress and poor mental health can also contribute to back pain.
I use OMT to help decrease the pain and inflammation that my patients suffer with, which is the most common and persistent symptom of back problems, along with muscles tightness and spasms. I also use OMT to decrease the muscle tightness experienced by my patients and to increase their back’s muscle strength to support their spinal health. Finally, I use OMT to improve and restore the body’s healthy motion especially the spine of my patients, that were caused by these traumatic events.
In the end, back pain is so prevalent in the world that we at the Bodiworks Institute we treat and restore the back health of our patients so that they will be able to return to their normal activities of daily living, or at least improve their lives to keep their independent lifestyle.