How Does Lower Back Pain Work? Part I

Lower back pain is so common that 8 out of 10 us will experience it at some point in our lives.  Any person who has experienced lower back pain can testify to how debilitating lower back pain is and how much it can negatively impact on your daily life, making common gestures like picking up a tissue off the floor, nearly impossible (read my post on how to strengthen your abs when you have lower back pain).  Not only that, suffering from lower back pain is likely to make driving extremely difficult, if not even more painful (click here to read more about driving posture to reduce lower back pain).  Sitting for long periods at the office or even trying to continue with your normal sport or recreational activities are also negatively impacted when lower back pain comes to call.  All in all, one of the least desirable ailments (read my post on how picking up your children badly can cause lower back pain).

How then does lower back pain work?  Understanding something is the first step in learning to deal with it better and hopefully to help find a way to reduce it’s impact in our lives.

Broadly speaking, your lower back pain will either be mechanical in nature or inflammatory (read about inflammatory lower back pain), or a combination of these.

lower back pain
Image by LadyofHats Mariana Ruiz Villarreal under Public Domain

When your lower back pain is mechanical in nature, this means that it relates to your biomechanics and to your musculoskeletal function.  In other words, it’s how your bones, joints, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and discs are affected by your movements, postures and your rest, to either cause you lower back pain or relieve your lower back pain.

As some of you would know, often when you have lower back pain, some postures and movements are hell and others keep you sane and able to function.  

It’s important to take note when this is the case.  Some people suffering from lower back pain tend to take no notice of what aggravates or eases their lower back pain and they are missing out on very important information in helping to understand and treat their problem correctly and swiftly.

When your lower back pain is due to a mechanical cause, any movement such as sitting/rising/walking/bending/arching backwards/straightening your knee etc. will either increase, decrease or maintain the intensity of your lower back pain.  This is because the mechanical forces created by these movements will have increased, decreased or remained constant on parts of your body tissues such as your spinal discs, facet joints, muscles or nerves.

In addition, you need to understand that different structures in the body are affected by different movements and postures and the forces that they apply.  They are also affected by the type of damage that has occurred and how this causes the affected body tissue to respond to different mechanical forces.

Spinal discs for example are generally aggravated by bending and twisting and can be eased by arching backwards (in certain circumstances, in other circumstances the opposite is true – hence it’s important to see your OMT specialised Physio for assistance since they are especially trained to know these differences and much much more).  On the other hand, generally speaking, your facet joints are aggravated by arching backwards but eased by bending and twisting.  Thus, it’s really important to take note of which movements ease, aggravate or maintain your lower back pain.  This information will help your OMT Physio get to the root of your problem faster.

Next time I will discuss chemical causes of lower back pain.  Any comments?  Please feel free to post them, I would love to hear from you.


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