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The truth about lower back pain

You are certainly not alone if you struggle with lower back pain in Jersey. 

It is estimated that up to 60% of the adult population will experience some form of lower back pain in their life. And it has become one of the leading causes of absenteeism at work. 

Because so many people struggle with lower back pain, it is often described as ‘normal’. Still, when it comes to pain, it is a warning sign from your body that something is not right. 

It is important to understand why it is there in the first place and get to the root cause, which is what we aim for at Human Health.

As chiropractors in Jersey, we help many people within our island’s community with lower back pain. 

It is always lovely to see people regain mobility and return to their everyday activities. 

So, in this article, we share more about lower back pain, including what it is, the structures of your back, the symptoms that can be experienced, treatment options and things you can do at home to help.

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain stems from the lower part of your back, which can include the bottom of your rib cage to the top of your pelvis. It can make those everyday activities that once seemed easy feel like a real challenge, like bending down to put on socks or washing up the pots.

 Many structures support your lower back, including bones (forming your spine), joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves, which can all contribute to the pain experienced.

We understand it can get a little confusing when reading about different body areas, so here is a little overview of how your lower back is formed.

Your spine forms the foundation of your back and whole body and is made up of 24 bones called vertebra, which stack on top of each other, creating the spinal column. 

You have 5 vertebra in your lower back, which is also known as the lumbar spine, and a disc sits between each bone. 

The discs hold the bones together, aid mobility, and help to absorb pressure, and each bone has joints which connect with the bone above and below. 

The muscles, ligaments, and tendons we mentioned previously surround and attach to your spine, assisting with stability and movement.

Your spinal column not only keeps you upright and helps you move but also protects your spinal cord, which is positioned within it. 

Nerves exit at different levels of your spine to connect and control every part of your body. Your spinal cord and your brain form your nervous system, which controls everything you do. 

So, if you wiggle your big toe right now, the movement is all thanks to this communication highway. Allowing messages from your brain to reach the muscles of your toe. This creates movement and messages from your toe to go back to your brain. 

Your body really is incredible, and as you may be able to appreciate, it is wonderfully complex.

What is the main reason for lower back pain?

There are many reasons why back pain starts, but most commonly, it is due to a mechanical issue. 

For example, there can be a muscle or ligament strain, the joints that connect each vertebra can get irritated, or injury can occur to the disc. These often start due to poor conditioning, repetitive twisting and bending, or a sudden movement such as a trip or fall. 

Degenerative changes to the spine can also be a factor which would develop over time.

The type of pain experienced will depend on the cause and whether it is local to the area, which is often the case for strains or joint issues. 

The pain can also be a referred pain, which can occur with disc injuries or degenerative changes due to the impact on the nerves.

How do I know if my back pain is kidney related?

Lower back pain can sometimes cause concern that there may be a kidney issue, and this is something we are mindful of at Human Health. 

The pain’s location often differs for kidney issues due to the kidneys being located higher up under the rib cage on both sides of the spine. 

When there are kidney problems, the pain experienced often feels deeper. It can be described as a constant dull ache or severe sharp pain which can spread to the groin area. 

There can also be associated symptoms such as a fever, chills, nausea or frequent or painful urination which wouldn’t typically be seen with lower back pain. 

If you are concerned that your back pain may be kidney related, we always recommend seeking help.

Is walking good for lower back pain?

Regular movement, such as walking, is key to helping manage lower back pain. 

We understand it can be challenging to get moving when you are in discomfort. Still, we encourage you to give it a go because it can help reduce the pain and speed up your recovery. 

If you are struggling, we recommend starting small with a 5 to 10-minute walk if you can and then building up over time.

Is it better to sit or lay down with lower back pain?

Everyone’s experience of lower back pain is unique. What is possible for one may not be suitable for another, so always listen to your body when managing your pain. 

If you can lie down, however, we recommend that over and above sitting. 

Laying down will help to reduce the load on your lower back and allow your spine to be in a neutral position. 

Be sure to stand up and move around frequently. Setting a timer on your phone can be a good reminder of this. 

We know it can be hard work to go from lying down to standing, but we assure you the movement will help your healing.

How should I sleep with lower back pain?

It can be challenging to get to sleep when you are in pain. The following adaptations can help reduce the pressure through your spine and pelvis if you are struggling. 

If you can, lay on your side with a slight bend in your knees and a small firm pillow between your legs. This will keep your pelvis and lower back in balance. 

Alternatively, laying on your back with a pillow under your knees can help reduce the tension in your lower back and allow you to get some much-needed rest.

Should I see a chiropractor or get a massage for lower back pain?

It is important to establish why the lower back pain is there in the first place to determine what care is most appropriate going forward. 

At Human Health, we carry out a detailed consultation checking all aspects of your spine and musculoskeletal system to get to the root cause. At times there may be an organ, dietary or emotional component, so each consultation is personalised specifically to your needs. 

This will help us guide you on whether chiropractic care will be the best place to start or whether alternative care, such as massage, may be more suitable.

How often should you see a chiropractor for lower back pain?

This is a question we are often asked; unfortunately, the answer differs from one person to another. 

The cause of the back pain and individual circumstances will impact the frequency of visits and expected healing time. We would discuss this in detail following a consultation and create a tailored plan.

Can spinal manipulation help low back pain?

After reaching this point of the article, are you wondering if chiropractic care can actually help?! 

Well, here’s some good news, it can. 

Focused chiropractic adjustments (also known as spinal manipulation) have been shown to be effective for lower back pain. 

We have extensive experience with it at Human Health and see great results.

At home lower back pain exercises

As well as getting help through chiropractic care, there are stretches and exercises you can do at home to help provide some relief from back pain. As always, please listen to your body. 

The aim is not to work through pain or worsen it, so we recommend getting in touch with ourselves or your other healthcare providers before continuing.

Lower back pain stretches

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a gentle stretch you can do to help reduce tension throughout your spine. 

With your hands and knees on the ground, sink back through your hips to rest them on your heels. 

Walk your hands out in front of you and let your stomach rest on your thighs. 

You should feel a nice stretch over the back of your body. 

If you slowly change the position of your hands, moving more to the left or the right, it will adapt to the focus of your stretch. 

Hold the Pose for 20 to 30 seconds, or slowly sit up and then sink back down if needed.

Knee to Chest Stretch

Knee to Chest Stretch helps to reduce tension in your legs, which can help to reduce tension in your lower back. 

Start by laying on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. 

Keep one leg bent, or you can extend it fully to the ground. 

Draw the opposite knee to your chest and wrap your hands around your shin or thigh. 

Hold this for up to 30 seconds, and then release. Alternate your legs and repeat.

What are the 3 simple exercises for back pain?

It sounds simple and is something we discussed earlier in the article. Still, walking is one of the best ways to not only prevent back pain but help relieve some of the discomfort and aid healing if you are currently struggling.

Being mindful of activating your core muscles when doing movements will help to protect your spine and reduce symptoms whilst you are in pain. It is a brilliant way to be proactive going forward to prevent further injury.

To help create some gentle movement and strength through your lower back, the ‘Bird Dog’ exercise is useful. 

‘Bird Dog’ exercise

Whilst on all fours on the floor, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips, lift your right arm forward and left leg straight behind you, being mindful to keep your head in line with your spine. 

Pause, and then return to the starting position. 

Repeat with your left arm forward and right leg back and alternate. 

Keep your core muscles engaged and back flat throughout while carrying out the controlled movement.

Conclusion

We hope this information offers valuable insight into lower back pain and helps to provide an understanding into the structures involved in your lower back and the integral role your spine plays.

Despite lower back pain being very common, it is not something that should be normalised. 

If it is something you are struggling with, then a good place to start is identifying why it began in the first place and getting to the root cause of the issue. 

Not only to get out of pain but also to help prevent problems from returning.

If we can be of any support on your lower back pain journey in Jersey, please get in touch. We would be love to help.

Tacy Wright

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