Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common problems that people go to a doctor seeking help and relief for. Your low back and pelvis handle a high amount of force through the joints from sitting and walking. This creates a need for stability along with mobility. Some of the most typical causes for injury occur from improper lifting of heavy objects, pregnancy, sitting at a desk job, and poor posture.
In anatomical terms, the low back consists of the lumbar vertebrae (five bones within your spinal column), sacrum ( tailbone area), and two iliums (hip bones). Your low back is built to be mobile. As with any joint in your body, the joints in the lumbar vertebrae are there to facilitate movement. This allows us to bend forward and touch our toes, or extend back and get a deep cobra pose stretch in yoga.
Unlike the upper back and neck, the low back does not allow a lot of rotation. This is a primary reason for people injurying their back from improper lifting. The most prevalent way of people experiencing LBP is from bending forward and twisting to the side to pick something up. This can put a lot of pressure on the lumbar disc space and create sharp shooting pains down the legs, referring to sciatica, or lock up the back entirely.
Pregnancy-related LBP often occurs at the end of the second trimester or during the third trimester due to rapid changes in hormones, weight gain, and gait. Relaxin, the hormone that literally causes your muscles and ligaments to relax, increases in the second trimester until the baby comes earthside. With muscle relaxation and gaining more weight, this shifts the center of gravity forward and tilts the pelvis, leading to lots of strain put on the joints of the low back. This new shift in the center of gravity also encourages leaning back while walking, also known as the waddle gait. The body swings the leg forward with each step in order to stay balanced and not fall, as well as to protect the pelvis and baby.
Many of us have been instructed since little kids to sit up straight and have good posture but it’s harder to follow that piece of advice throughout our whole life. Working at a desk for hours on end or prolonged sitting in general harms the low back in a few ways. It shortens the muscle group known as the hip flexors, which affects the natural gait and puts more stress on the muscles stabilizing the low back. Also from leaning forward while sitting, it increases the pressure within the lumbar disc spaces that could lead to feeling symptoms of sciatica.
One of the great benefits of utilizing chiropractic care for pain management is that it provides relief from acute pain while allowing your body to heal. Chiropractic is great for the treatment of LBP due to its ability to create motion in specific joints through use of the adjustment. Getting adjusted helps joints that are restricted, also the muscles associated with those joints, relieves irritation on the nerves that exit out of the spine, and encourages proper biomechanics. This is why wellness care and seeing the chiropractor, even when your body is not in pain, is so important and vital!