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How Does Lower Back Pain Work? Part II

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.  Lower back pain is very very common.  People who are at risk are office workers and drivers (in other words people who sit for long periods of time) as well as people such as nurses, manual workers in a factory/farm/warehouse setting (since they perform a lot of lifting and bending).  In other words, most of us are at risk of developing lower back pain because of sitting for too long in a bad posture or because of lifting and bending poorly day in and day out in our jobs.  That is why at least 80% of the world’s population will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their life.

To broadly understand your lower back pain, you need to think of it as mechanical in nature (read my post on mechanical lower back pain), or inflammatory, or a combination of these.

When your lower back pain is mainly as a result of chemicals in your body, this means that hormones and chemicals are circulating in the area of your pain, triggering a pain response from the brain.  This can be due to trauma, arthritis, infections, physical pressure on a nerve or other tissue, or chronic pain syndrome (a very complex disorder involving the nervous and chemical systems of the body).  Physically increasing the blood’s circulation through movement often aggravates lower back pain of an inflammatory nature.  Too much rest (swelling and pressure build up when you rest too much if there is inflammation present) will also aggravate lower back pain in these circumstances.

Inflammation
Image by CDC/Dr. Karp, Emory University under Public Domain

Sometimes, lower back pain as a result of a mechanical problem can also result in an inflammatory response in the spine.  When this occurs, this can really slow down your response to treatment, since the inflammation will need to settle, which normally takes anything between 3-7 days.  If you keep aggravating your lower back pain (which many people do), you are liable to keep your inflammatory process active and delay healing further.

At other times, lower back pain of an inflammatory nature can leave scar tissue behind as a result of the inflammation, which in turn can cause mechanical problems for some body tissues such as a nerve impingement that again can result in lower back pain.

Another factor to bear in mind is that when your lower back pain is due to inflammation, anything than causes a change in your circulation will aggravate your lower back pain.  This generally means that too much movement can increase your lower back pain because increased movement results in an increase in your circulation, which in turn increases the amount of chemicals causing your lower back pain to be present in the area of your injury.  Too much rest also will cause an increase in your lower back pain, since when your circulation slows down, fluid moves out of your blood vessels and into the tissue surrounding it.  This causes a pressure build up in your injured tissue which in turn increases your lower back pain.  The key when you have lower back pain of an inflammatory nature is to do small amounts of movement often.  Not too much movement and not too little.  If you listen to your body, it will guide you to get the balance right.

Understanding what type of back problem you have is important to treat it properly.  Make sure you have the correct person with enough expertise and medical knowledge to help you.  OMT specialised physiotherapists are among the best people to help you resolve your back pain.

Do you have any questions or comments? Please take the time to post it, I would love to hear from you.

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