Low back pain is the second most common complaint to healthcare professionals, second only to upper-respiratory infections. 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time with more than 80% of people that will have low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain. Most cases of back pain are mechanical meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
Two Types of Low Back Pain
There are two types of low back pain mechanical and non-mechanical.
Mechanical low back pain is caused by injury or trauma. Non-mechanical low back pain is due to underlying pathology or disease.
Causes of mechanical low back pain include:
- Facet Syndrome
- Disc herniation
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Causes of non-mechanical low back pain include:
- Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Infection
- Vertebral Fracture
- Malignant Neoplasia
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Referred pain from:
o Vascular problem-AAA
What to expect at your appointment for a complaint of low back pain:
You should expect to provide a full medical history to your healthcare provider. An event or physical complaint that you think is entirely unrelated to your low back pain may provide essential information needed to make a correct diagnosis.
Your doctor will perform a full physical exam, including sensation and strength testing. Your doctor may order X-rays, CT or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If non-mechanical low back pain is suspected, blood work will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
When to seek emergency care for low back pain
Seek immediate professional help if your low back pain is associated with any of the following symptoms:
- Recent Significant Trauma
- Recent mild trauma over 50 years
- History of cancer
- Prolonged steroid use
- Progressive or severe neurological deficit
- IV drug use and/or fever
- Bladder and/or bowel problems
- Pain lasting longer than 6 weeks
- Unexplained weight loss
- Older than 70 years old
What a chiropractor can do for low back pain:
According to the ACA,
“After an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research—a federal government research organization—recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.”
Chiropractic care is very effective at providing relief from low back pain. Chiropractic treatment options include:
- Low back exercises and stretches
- Ergonomic training
- Electrical stimulation/TENS treatment
- Acupuncture (if certified in acupuncture)
- Supervised medical massage
Low back pain can have a multitude of causes and should always be checked by a qualified professional such as a chiropractor or medical doctor.