Back Pain

Back pain is estimated to affect between 60%-80% of the population at some point of their lives (Macfarlane et al 1999). A good starting point in improving back pain is to know what the problem is and what triggers it. Here, at Lightwater Health & Chiropractic, we specialise in treating back pain, trapped nerves, muscle spasms and back stiffness. The majority of our patients are treated for back pain and by using conservative therapies we can help give relief to these patients.

Below are some of the most common causes for back pain.

Back Sprain/Strain

This is the most common type of back pain. It normally presents as a sudden onset and patients will often describe a sudden sharp pain in their back when they were lifting or bending incorrectly, trauma or a fall. Nevertheless the symptoms can present gradually overtime usually from repetitive movements. The pain usually comes from injury to the ligaments, joints and muscles in the back. This can happen anywhere along the spine but is most common on the base of the spine, resulting in lower back pain, stiffness and discomfort radiating into the buttocks or legs. Correct treatment involving manipulation, mobilisation and massage can improve symptoms with the majority of patients making a full recovery between 1-5 weeks, depending on each individual case.

Herniated Disc / Slipped Disc

This is normally the main cause for chronic lower back pain and pain into the legs. Between two vertebrae is an intervertebral disc. These are made up of several fibrous rings incasing a fluid filled sac and provide movement and shock absorption to the spine. A large amount of stress gets put onto our spines everyday making it relatively easy to injure an intravertebral disc. There are normally two ways to injure a disc, either from a sudden force or by repetitive movements. These weaken the fibrous rings and allow the jelly like liquid to leak out, which can press on the spinal cord or a nerve exiting the spine. This is one mechanism that can cause "sciatica".

Symptoms normally present in two areas, firstly in the lower back at the site of the injury and secondly down the leg if nerve pressure is involved. The type of pain can vary but is usually a sharp pain in the lower back and pain, pins and needles or numbness into the leg. Sleep is normally disturbed and sitting is extremely uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, disc problems can take a long time to heal as this injury is quite severe. In approximately 10% of cases surgery is recommended as the disc is too injured to repair itself. The majority of patients should see a reduction in pain within 2-4 weeks but full recovery not happening until 2-3 months. Rehabilitation and lifestyle changes are recommended to everyone with a disc injury as reoccurrence is not uncommon. Sometimes an MRI scan will be requested to see the extent of the injury.