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CAUSES OF LOW BACK PAIN
Low back pain is a condition that I come across very often in my practice, and while it presents as an annoying inconvenience for some people, low back pain can be completely debilitating, rendering the sufferer incapable of standing, walking or performing many weight bearing activity.
Sitting on certain surfaces may be unbearable and every day activities such as getting in and out of bed or a car can become an ordeal.
To understand low back pain, a quick simplified anatomy lesson helps. More so than neck and shoulder pain, there are many structures that give off pain signals in the low back. Understanding which structure is causing the pain, will guide your health care practitioner on the best treatment for your low back pain.
An inhome mobile RMT is equiped in treating some low back pain, especially if the issue is soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, fascia etc) related.
In your low back are thick irregularly shaped bones stacked on top of each other called Lumbar Vertebrae.
As you can imagine, bones stacked on top of each other with no cushioning would grind and grate and eventually erode on themselves with constant movement. As such, between each lumbar vetebrae are intervertrebral discs which serve as cushioning.
Bone produces a great sensation of pain when injured (think of excrusiating pain when you bump your sheen against the edge of a table), as such, if these intertebral discs become damaged or wear out, the bony vetbrae in your low back may start to grind on each other, causing a lot of pain.
Creating extra support and preventing excess movement in the lumbar or low back region are ligaments (which connect bone to bone). They both allow the spine to move as one while also preventing the bones from moving out of place; which is key, since running around those massive lumbar vetebra are very fine delicate nerves. Ligaments, when over stretched or torn do produce pain, which is the bodies most efficient way of letting us know there is an injury.
Nerves are the bodies messangers, carrying signals from the brain to our muscles or skin and causing muscle movement or sensation. For example, if you want to bend down and tie your shoes, your brain thinks about the intension and your nerves carry those signals to your stomach, back, arm and leg muscles and controls them to actually carry our the action.
For this reason, it’s safe to say nerves are very very important. Severing or injurying them can lead to partial or total paralysis, as such, when they are threatened by compression or chemical attack, they carry a very strong and effective pain signal as a way of getting us to stop doing whatever it is we are doing.
Last but not least of structures that make up the low back are your low back Muscles. Simply put, they carry out the actions of our brain through movement as well as provide us with suppport in maintaining our posture (among other things).
Low back muscles may become injured in a number of ways, the most common being muscle strain from a sudden action. If you are receiving an in home massage, your mobile Registered Massage Therapist will perform an assesment which may include asking you perform simple actions that engage your low back muscles as a way of determining if your pain is related to those muscles.
Low back pain is unique to the lumbar region of the spine / back and if you were to imagine your back sectioned into thirds, it would be the lowest third region.
Low back pain can manifest in different places and ways for different people depending on the root cause of the pain. As such understanding the client’s symptoms during assessment is imperative before a Registered Massage Therapist can formulate a safe and effective treatment plan.
Some of the questions I ask during interview include:
- Location of pain? The pain may sometimes be felt in the middle part where the bony vertebrae reside or at either or both sides of the low back.
- Description of the pain? Some people will describe a sharp pain, which they can pinpoint while some will describe a dull radiating ache with no clear site of origin. For some, the sensation is not pain at all, but rather, an unsettling numb feeling on the skin of the low back.
- What are the things that exasperates and what relieves the low back pain? Safe to say riding a bicycle on a bumpy road with ditches and ramps will exasperate your low back pain, however during assessment of the condition, a skilled RMT will have you perform some simple motions. Such as leaning forward , backwards and side to side. There’s a lot that can be learned about the root cause of the client’s pain from these simple movements. Some people may report feeling pain when leaning forward and leaning to the right but not when leaning backwards or leaning to the left. Sometimes it can be as specific as pain in the first 10degrees of leaning forward only but not the rest of the way.
Whether you are getting an in home massage with a Registered Massage Therapist, or at a clinic, a thorough assessment is key in order for your therapist to make a clinical impression as to the cause of the condition.
The key to effectively treating low back pain is to properly understand its origin and cause. The cause may be from an injury or trauma from an accident such as a fall. Other times, low back pain can be caused from overuse from a vocation or hubby. For instance while it’s not difficult to image that a mover who bends over to pick up furniture all day may eventually have low back pain, an office worker who sits at a desk job for extended hours through out the day may suffer the same fate.
Poor posture and biomechanics when sitting or lifting objects will cause low back pain.
Some sport activities are also notorious for causing low back pain, such as, golfing or playing the position of a batter in baseball.
Poor matress support may cause low back pain and sometimes the cause may be weak abdominal muscles not properly supporting the turso.
Often however, clients do not know exactly when or why their low back pain started, as such, before providing massage therapy at a cient’s home or at the clinic, your mobile massage therapist could perform a thorough assessment which helps in creating a clinical impression not only on the initial cause of your condition, but also in identifying ongoing daily activities that make it exasperates it.
Massage therapy is often a great treatment for low back pain. Sometimes it is the sole form of therapy required as treatment and sometimes it serves as a compliment to another therapy (eg Physiotherapy / Chiro)
Commom culprits of low back pain often include tightness is muscles in the low back such as QL muscles (muscles on your sides) and sometimes in muscles that aren’t, such as tight piriformis muscles (muscles in your butt) or hamstrings muscles (muscles in the back of your thigh).
Massage therapy is incredibly benefical in treating hypertonicity in these mucles and a skilled RMT will be able to create and provide you with a safe and effective treatment plan.
In cases where bone degeneration is the cause, digital imaging such as XRAYs or MRI is the most accurate way of determining the severity of the condition. At this point your mobile massage therapist should refer you to your doctor for further testing.
Massage therapy may still be used to relieve pain from compensatory changes in this case, although it obviously will not resolve bone degeneration.
At Spa-In Mobile Spa, we the mobile Registered Massage therapists provide in home massages and can assist you in determining the cause of your low back pain as well as formulate and provide safe and effective treatments for the condition. Your massage at home may also include some stretching or strengthening activities as part of your therapy.