If you have back pain you are certainly not alone. Estimate the
66% of adult Americans have recurring back pain. The question is;
do you have to live with it or can you manage a way to live without
it? The fact is that most types of back pain are manageable or treatable
with some simple principles. Like a computer program, there are
many menu options that you can choose for individual tastes and
needs. The question is, are you in the right program? The first
step is a simple list of questions to decide what the underlying
cause of back pain is.
List of Questions
Do you have:
1. Back pain that stays in your lower back?
2. Back pain that goes to your buttocks or posterior thighs?
3. Back pain that goes to your leg and to your foot?
4. Back pain that only comes with activities, bending, or lifting?
5. Back pain that comes only when walking?
6. Leg or foot pain and little or no back pain?
7. Cramping in the buttocks or legs that only comes with walking,
relieved by sitting or bending forward and helped by leaning forward
on a shopping cart?
8. Leg cramps the come with walking, only relived by stopping
for a few minutes but reoccurs at the same distance of walking
9. Back Pain with Leg Pain and/or Leg Numbness and/or Leg Weakness?
10. Leg Pain with or without Back Pain, Numbness, or Weakness?
This is an indication that a nerve is being effected. Usually the
effected nerve is in the lower part of your back and goes to a special
part of your leg. Doctors refer to this as radiculopathy or sciatica.
Basically, the nerve is pinched by a disc protruding into the spine
or the ingrowth of bone from the joints (bone spurs). For either
reason, the nerve is pinched or squeezed and is not getting enough
blood flow. If it is a disc that is doing the squeezing, you may
be in luck, since discs are 85% water. After they protrude, they
can shrink in size and therefore stop squeezing the nerve. You know
that people get shorter as they get older; that's because the discs
are 85% when you are eighteen years old, but by the time we near
our sixties, the discs should be down to 60% water. This is good.
When we are eighteen years old we are strong, energetic, and flexible.
But as we get older we want a more self-supporting spine so we don't
have to spend as much energy to support our spine and keep it stable.
We naturally become less flexible as we get older, but this has
minimal effect on our function since we still have flexible hips
and knees to stay active. This natural loss of water in our discs
has somewhat inappropriately been called Degenerative Disc Disease
(DDD). It is not a disease, but a natural condition or process of
aging, and, as any doctor will tell you, is not necessarily associated
with back pain or leg pain. The problem is your need to listen to
the messages your body is sending to you. If your back doesn't want
to bend but you keep bending it or try to keep it flexible, it will
hurt. If you learn to relieve the stress in your back by having
strong abdominal and back muscles and flexible hips, quads, and
hamstrings (lumbar stabilization exercises), you can get rid of
If pain is caused by a disc pinching the nerve, the disc can be:
- herniated/extruded/ sequestered
How you perceive spine problems
Low back pain can be divided into two main types:
- Mechanical Type pain
- Compressive Type pain
Mechanical type back pain results from inflammation caused by irritation
or injury to the disk, the facet joints, the ligaments, or the muscles
of the back. A common cause of mechanical pain is disk degeneration.
A typical muscle strain, or lumbar strain, can also be the cause
of mechanical type symptoms. Mechanical type back pain usually starts
near the lower spine. Mechanical type pain may also spread to include
the buttock and thigh areas. It rarely extends below the knee.
Compressive or neurogenic (meaning nerve related) type pain occurs
when the nerve roots that leave the spine are irritated or pinched.
A common cause of compressive pain is a herniated disk. The nerves
that leave the lower lumbar spine join to form the sciatic nerve.
This nerve provides sensation and controls the muscles of the lower
leg. Pressure or irritation on the nerve roots of the lumbar spine
that come together to form the sciatic nerve can interfere with
the normal function of the sciatic nerve. One of the earliest signs
of pressure on a nerve root is numbness in the area supplied by
the nerve. There is commonly pain in the same area, usually extending
below the knee to the foot. In cases where there is pressure o a
nerve root as it comes out of the spine, it is not unusual for the
back itself to be painless. This can be confusing at times since
there is no back pain - but the problem is located in the lumbar
spine! Finally, the muscles that the nerve controls may become weak
and the reflexes disappear. This is because the pressure on the
nerve roots interferes with the signals from the brain to the muscles.
There is no signal going from the brain to the muscle to tell it
can also cause compressive type pain. In some people, degeneration
of the spine can result in a narrowing of the spinal canal - the
bony tube where the spinal nerves are located. This causes all of
the nerves within the spinal canal to become inflamed, and fail
to work properly. One problem that occurs when the tube is too small
is that the nerves cannot get enough blood supply to work properly.
The nerves may be OK when you are at rest, but if you become active,
the nerves need more blood flow to get more oxygen. Because the
tube is too tight, the blood supply cannot increase. One of the
symptoms this may cause is numbness, which can involve both of the
legs. The numbness may become worse with activities, such as walking.
The pain can involve both of the lower extremities. The pain becomes
worse with activities such as walking, and gets better after short
periods of rest. Weakness of the muscles of both legs may also occur,
and again, this may get worse when activity increases.
Further information can be found at:
I have a Slipped or Prolapsed Disc
Bulging Disc | Herniated Disc | Most Effective Treatments