Common Reasons for Back Pain
Many spinal experts actually consider the facet joints to be the most common source of spinal pain and discomfort.
Each vertebra possesses 2 sets of facet joints – one set for articulating to the vertebrae above and one set for the articulation to the vertebrae below. In association with the spinal discs, the facet joints allow for movement between the individual vertebrae of the spine.
The facet joints are under a constant load from the weight of the body and are involved in guiding general motion and preventing extreme motions in the trunk. Repetitive or excessive trunk motions, especially in rotation or extension, can irritate and injury facet joints or their encasing fibers. Also, abnormal spinal biomechanics – similar to a wheel out of alignment – and bad postural habits can significantly increase spinal stresses and thus greatly accelerate the wear and tear on the facet joints, thus causing increased pain in your neck and back.
MUSCLES & LIGAMENTS
Spinal muscles and ligaments attach to the vertebrae, ribs, and pelvis to permit and manage various trunk motions including – forward and backward bending, side to side bending, and rotation or twisting. When a spinal motion occurs in excess or a muscle is worked beyond its capacity whether suddenly or gradually over time, injury occurs.
Sprains and strains of the muscles or ligaments upset the normal balance of the spine. Spinal structural alignment and biomechanics can be significantly altered. These alterations make the spinal components (discs, facets, vertebrae, nerves, etc.) increasingly prone to injury and degenerative processes.
Doctors of chiropractic rehabilitate spinal muscles and ligaments to prevent spinal imbalances, assisting in back pain relief.
Proper posture simply refers to maintaining the body in a position which protects against excessive stresses which cause injury, while requiring a minimal amount of muscular effort to maintain a comfortable position which; will not irritate your spinal tissues.
Posture plays a significant role in the development of chronic conditions such as chronic back and neck pain. Poor posture is responsible for overstretching ligaments and other supportive spinal structures as well as exhausting spinal musculature, all of which quickly leads to the development of chronic spinal pain.
Learning and practicing proper postural habits will help reduce the likelihood of acquiring back and neck injuries, reduce spinal degeneration, and help keep your spine and body happy and healthy.
THE SACROILIAC JOINT
The sacroiliac joint is another spinal component which undergoes very large spinal stresses. Either the ligaments supporting the joints or the actual joint surfaces can be a source of low back pain and even refer pain into the lower extremities.
There are 2 sacroiliac joints formed by the articulation between the sacrum and 2 ilium bones of the pelvis. Like the other spinal structures, the sacroiliac joints can be injured through acute trauma, repetitive movements, and poor posture, to name a few.
Symptoms include lower back pain with the pain occasionally extending down the back of the leg. Additionally, hip pain, knee pain as well as foot and ankle pain may be present due to increased stress in those joints as a result of an alteration of pelvic biomechanics.
Sacroiliac problems are extremely common in pregnancy. During this time, the pelvis experiences many physical stresses due to weight and hormonal factors. Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy is essential in minimizing pelvic and spinal stresses. A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found 7 out of 10 women obtained sacroiliac pain relief from chiropractic spinal manipulation.
A simple but surprisingly effective way to identify pelvic misalignments is to check for uneven leg lengths. Lay on a flat surface then have friend or family member compare the bottom of both heels for symmetrical length. If there is any discrepancy between leg lengths you may have a pelvic or lower back misalignment.
Chiropractic adjustments are frequently applied to the ilium and sacrum to successfully normalize and restore sacroiliac joint position and biomechanics.
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
The nervous system is the master controller of all cells, tissues and organs. Nerves control the heart, lungs, immune system, endocrine system, as well as our thoughts and other cognitive processes. Effectively, the nervous system is in charge of directing and overlooking all bodily functions – keeping us alive and healthy, fighting off diseases and infections, and healing us after we have sustained injury.
Many people are surprised to learn that the spine plays a key role in protecting the nervous system. In fact, the main function of the spinal column (in addition to providing movement for the torso) is to encase and protect the spinal cord and nerve roots. Without this protection it’s unlikely that we would survive a relatively small slip and fall injury.
As the spinal cord descends from the brain, spinal nerve roots peel away from the spinal cord at each vertebral level and exit through openings made by adjacent vertebrae. These small protective pathways are called intervertebral foramen or IVFs and permit safe exit of the delicate nerve roots to the rest of the body. Because of the location of the IVF, herniated or bulging spinal discs, subluxated vertebrae, arthritic bony growths, and inflammatory biochemicals from nearby injured tissues commonly irritate or impinge upon the spinal nerve roots.
When there is irritation and interference to a nerve, messages or impulses traveling along that nerve can get scrambled. Some signals become only slightly altered while others may completely fail to reach their destination. As this process continues, those cells, tissues and organs which depend on the affected nerves for communication become less effective in performing their many important tasks and become less able to maintain their optimal health. Ultimately, the affected tissues can deteriorate, degenerate and become nonfunctional and diseased.
Chiropractors are the only doctors trained to detect and treat vertebral misalignments and fixations as well as many other common spinal abnormalities which cause nerve irritation and interference. Correcting nerve irritation and interference allows the body to function the way it was meant to.
The spine is a complex structure containing a number of associated muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves which commonly become irritated and injured. Extended sitting, repetitive motions, bad postural habits, mental stress, lack of exercise and inadequate nutritional intake are just some of the everyday stresses which accumulate to produce devastating effects on the spinal components.
Doctors of chiropractic are the health care leaders in providing safe, fast and effective relief for most spinal problems.