If you live with lower back pain, you’re in good company. An estimated 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point during their life. The low back, or lumbar spine, is probably the hardest working part of the back for the simple fact that it bears the most weight. It is made up of five vertebrae that are connected by joints, ligaments, and muscles that all work together to give both flexibility and stability to your back. There are also many nerves present in your lumbar spine, including the sciatic nerve that is made up of nerve roots that branch off of the spinal cord in the lower back.
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Low Back Pain Risk Factors
Some risk factors are dictated by things beyond our control, and others we have the ability to take action and work towards minimizing. Some factors that contribute to the risk of developing low back pain that are within our realm of control include:
People who are more sedentary are at a much higher risk of developing back pain when compared to those who are more physically fit. Increasing core strength gives some much-needed support to the lower back. Weight-bearing exercise and strength training help to strengthen bones and maintain the health of the intervertebral discs that give your lower back some cushion. A lack of regular exercise leaves your back susceptible to injury and wear-and-tear. Starting with short walks and building up to 30 minutes of movement a day is a good goal.
Quick weight gain over a short period of time, obesity, and being overweight can contribute to back pain by increasing the stress on the lower back.
Every job comes along with its potential risks for causing back pain and problems. Physically demanding jobs that require bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. can be hard on the back if you’re not using proper techniques to protect yourself from injury. Office jobs can be hard on your low back for other reasons. A poorly set up workstation combined with long hours of sitting can contribute to a loss of muscle tone, pain, and discomfort.
Everyone, from children to adults, is guilty of stuffing too many items in the bag that they carry around on a daily basis. Children can have overloaded backpacks, and adults might lug around too much stuff in their purse, bag, or briefcase. This can become particularly problematic when the bag is carried over one shoulder or on one side of the body.
Other risk factors are more difficult to feel like we have any control over. Even with these, there are things that can be done to minimize them:
If you’re not in the habit of taking very good care of your spine, as you age you may begin to experience pain and problems. Loss of bone density and strength can also occur without proper exercise and nutrition.
Some back pain-causing conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis are hereditary. However, in most cases, just because a parent or sibling had a “bad back” doesn’t automatically mean you’re doomed to the same fate. Proper self-care can help to minimize the influence your genetics has over your propensity to develop degenerative conditions.
Pregnancy-related back pain
Many women will experience low back pain during their pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester as the fetus continues to grow. During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity changes putting more strain on the spine and soft tissues of the back.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to and worsen the perception of pain. Stress can cause increased muscle tension, which can easily cause back pain. Avoiding all stress is impossible but taking steps to learn how to handle stress in a healthy way – learning how to meditate, going for a walk, or winding down with a relaxing bath at the end of the day – can help you to cope better and reduce the possibility of developing (or exacerbating) back pain.
Solving the Back Pain Equation with Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Whether you’re experiencing middle or lower back pain, you might be surprised to learn that having your neck checked for misalignment by an upper cervical chiropractor might be the solution you’ve been looking for. Many back pain sufferers have probably gone to a chiropractor a time or two only to have their condition return days, weeks, or months later. Upper cervical chiropractic takes a different path to address back pain by identifying the root cause of many common problems. By taking a top-down approach, we can avoid chasing around compensations and get to the bottom of what’s going on.
If you’re wondering how taking care of the neck can help with lower back pain, allow us to explain. The uppermost bone in the neck, called the atlas, has the important job of supporting the weight of the head. It is also the most freely movable segment in the entire spine, making it particularly vulnerable to misaligning as a result of injury or wear and tear. When the atlas misaligns, it forces your head out of its neutral position and the rest of the spine is subsequently forced into a stressed position to compensate. Looking in the mirror, you might see that your head is a bit off-tilt, your shoulders aren’t level, and one hip is higher than the other. These imbalances can cause stress on the joints of your spine, muscle spasm, ligament strain, irritated nerves, and other issues that contribute to back pain.
By correcting the problem at the source, we are able to eliminate the negative effects of compensation that can be causing your discomfort. At Balanced Living Chiropractic we work with each of our patients to identify the underlying cause of their back pain and with gentle, precise adjustments, work towards restoring normal alignment to the upper cervical spine so that your body can heal naturally.
To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation, call 248-831-0729 or just click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.