Back pain is one of the most common reasons people see a doctor. Approximately 80% of the population will experience low back pain during their lifetime.Most cases of low back pain lack objective clinical signs or show any pathological changes. Less than 10% of low back pain is due to herniated discs.
There are numerous diagnosis that are used to classify back pain. Sciatica, spinal stenosis, DJD or degenerative disc disease, herniated disc and facet syndrome. The common denominator for all of these conditions is ultimately lack of motion in the joints themselves. This lack of motion is primarily caused from scar tissue development either around the joint itself or in the surrounding muscular system. Scar tissue is a direct result of trauma and micro-trauma, (a series of smaller often unnoticed injuries), that build up over time. A less appreciated but major player in the formation of scar tissue is the repetitive injury cycle. Doing any thing over and over can eventually lead to scar tissue formation. An example is carpal tunnel syndrome. A common condition from typing on a computer key board. Carpal Tunnel is a build up of scar tissue that gets so bad it entraps the median nerve in the wrist and arm causing terrible pain and numbness.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, sitting is probably the single biggest contributor of back pain. Why? Because sitting is the poster child for the repetitive injury cycle! When you sit for longer than 20 minutes, the muscles mainly in the front of the body are shortened and contracted. After 20 minutes, the muscle wants to stay shortened having the same characteristics as being full of adhesions and scar tissue. This changes the dynamics of normal motion in the joint complex, creating excessive wear and tear in the lumbar spine.
The incidence of low back pain is higher in developed countries. We as a nation sit more in chairs as opposed to squatting, like many in the third world tend to do. As further evidence, watch how a toddler plays. They can squat with their butts to the ground and stay there all day. Most adults can't get anywhere near that range of motion any more. We all used to, but it's a classic demonstration of how we train very basic movement patterns out of us.
The solution is to break the cycle of sitting any longer than 20 mins. I like the "Foundation Training" program for counteracting the effects of a lifetime of sitting. However, once you're in pain you have to get those joints moving again. If not the change in movement dynamics will prematurely degenerate the spine or any other joint not moving normally. The most scientifically proven method for mobilizing a stuck joint is the chiropractic adjustment. The adjustment can be made manually by hand or with the use of several high tech instruments on the market. Alot of misinformation still exists regarding what an "adjustment" is. It is not that a bone is out of alignment and compromising your life's energy.
Motion is life!
When a joint does not rotate along what is technically called the X,Y,Z axis, several things occur, all bad. The condition is called "joint deafferentation". Meaning that when a joint does move, it fires a type of nerve called a mechanoreceptor. These nerves tell the brain everything's cool and the muscles stay relaxed. When a joint does not move properly the muscles "brace" or tighten up around that joint... another reason for chronically tight muscles. Mechanoreceptors also act as a type of switch in the spinal cord which block pain signals from reaching the brain. Again, without proper movement the mechanoreceptors are not stimulated and pain signals travel up the cord to various areas of the brain. (This is termed in science as the Gate Theory of Pain). This is how chiropractic manipulation works to decrease pain. Additionally, a stuck joint causes excessive wear in the spine and this causes degeneration or if you will, a prematurely ageing spine. We know this because when a person undergoes spinal fusion, within about a year you can literally see the joint above and the segment below the fusion also start to fuse, or degenerate.
In my office I also incorporate additional soft tissue modalities such as ART, Active Release Technique, Graston, Rapid Release Instruments and Spinal Decompression, (Cox Technique) to accelerate results. When combined with traditional chiropractic we often see amazing results even in difficult cases that were told they needed surgery. If you or someone you know is dealing with back pain there is a highly successful non-surgical and drug- free solution.