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Lower Back Pain 

  

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Lower back pain is the most common complaint that brings someone to our clinic. At some stage in life most of us will experience lower back pain. The lower back consists of 5 lumbar vertebrae that have discs in between that act like cushions and bind the vertebra together. In addition there are numerous strong ligaments and muscles supporting the area. 

Muscular and Ligament Injuries

The most common cause of back pain is usually from your muscles and ligaments. Muscles and ligaments in the lower back are very big and strong, but if they get injured it can be very painful, especially if some of the larger muscles go into spasm (a state of strong muscle contraction). Poor posture, prolonged sitting, driving, lifting, bending, twisting, repetitive movements can all contribute towards unpleasent symptoms. It is quite common for symptoms to begin mildly and progress over time. You may experience pain with movement and feel siff and restricted.

Herniated Disc

Disc herniation (or rupture) can be the source of intense pain and sometimes may require surgery for repair. If the herniation impinges on the nerve root as in the picture below, then you will probably experience severe pain down your leg as well as symptoms in your lower back. If the disc herniation does not impinge on the nerve then you will probably only have symptoms in your lower back, such as pain and restricted movement. Quite often there is a history of heavy lifting with a bending forward or twisting movement that causes the herniation. People that spend a lot of time sitting can have a higher risk of herniation as there is more pressure on the disc. Gentle techniques to loosen up the tissues and structures surrounding the herniation can help to relieve the pressure caused by the herniation. If the herniation is severe then your osteopath will refer you to a specialist.

Nerve Impingement

As you can see from the picture above there are many nerves that travel through your lower back and pelvic areas. These nerves are susceptible to compression from various structures as they travel towards your legs. Impingement can result from disc herniation, arthritic bony spurs, muscle spasm or inflammation. When a nerve in this area is compressed it can be very painful and radiate to your buttocks, legs and feet. Other symptoms from nerve impingement include numbness, pins and needles, and weakness in the muscles. Most cases of inpingement can be treated effectively by your osteopath, but in some situations surgery may be required.

  

Osteoarthritis

This is where the cartilage that covers the bones like a cushion breaks down and the bones start to rub on each other causing the joints to deteriorate. It can make the affected joints stiff and painful and it is typically worse in the mornings. There will usually be associated muscle tightness around the joints that are affected. Gentle mobilisation of the joints and an increase in blood flow to the area can often help to improve the symptoms.

  

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