- Avoid prolonged sitting
- Get regular sleep
- Participate in regular aerobic exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight with a balanced diet
- When lifting, keep loads close to your torso
- Don’t smoke
- See your chiropractor to identify risks that may be unique to you
Causes of Low Back Pain
Although the causes of low back pain are varied, the causes of low back pain can put into 3 major categories. To “triage” low back pain into one of these categories is the first step taken by a chiropractor.
- Non-musculoskeletal low back pain. This accounts for <1% of all patients with low back pain presenting to all health care professionals, but has the most serious potential health risks. Viscera (or simply the organs in our body) can produce pain that we feel in our back. For example, the aorta (the largest vessel that comes from the heart) can dilate (or expand abnormally) and put pressure on the spine causing pain. This is also called an aneurysm and can be potentially life threatening. Other examples of non-musculoskeletal low back pain may include infection, tumor, cancer, and visceral referred pain.
- Neurogenic pain comprises about 10% of patients with low back pain. This type of pain is caused from irritation of nerves that supply the low back and lower extremities (legs).
- Musculoskeletal low back pain. 90% of all cases of low back pain are considered to be musculoskeletal (pain that comes from irritated joints, muscles, ligaments, discs, tendons, and bone). Pain may be just in the low back or may radiate into the buttocks, legs and/or feet.
Just as any other physician, a chiropractor is trained to diagnose your low back pain. In addition to taking a detailed history, chiropractors may use various orthopedic tests , neurologic tests, imaging (x-ray, MRI, etc.), blood work, etc. to diagnose a patient’s condition into one of the above categories.
Musculoskeletal low back pain (90% of all low back pain) is the primary area in which chiropractors specialize. Research shows that chiropractic care is the most effective treatment when treating musculoskeletal low back pain.
Neurogenic low back pain (~10% of all low back pain) is also commonly managed by chiropractors and oftentimes includes co-management with other specialists (ie. neurologists, physiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, primary care, etc.).
With non-musculoskeletal pain (<1% of all low back pain), a referral to the appropriate specialist or primary care physician is made.
Chiropractors commonly work together with other medical specialists to help treat painful conditions. It is a misconception that you have to choose either a chiropractor or a medical specialist to help with your condition. Rather, by working together and maintaining open communication between the chiropractor, the specialist and the patient make for the best results.
Given the range of conditions outlined above, it is easy to see why pain that lasts for more than a few days should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional. Remember, only a qualified health care professional can diagnose your condition.