What does low back pain feel like?
The low back, also known as the lumbar spine, has five spinal segments. When any of these segments are misaligned, there can be pain and discomfort. Low back pain can feel like a dull ache and/or tension of the muscles surrounding the low back. It can also feel like a sharp pain with tingling and/or numbness traveling down the legs. There may also be some pain at the hips or buttocks. Moreover, it may be hard to twist or bend the low back completely to one side, especially the side with pain.
Why do we get low back pain?
There are many possible causes for a misalignment of the low back:
compression of the low back segments due to lengthy periods of sitting,
mishaps such as a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury (for instance, using improper form while lifting heavy weights)
stomach sleeping, and
weak abdominal muscles from lack of exercise and movement.
If a misalignment in the lumbar spine is not addressed, it can cause long-term pain and stiffness in the low back and even travel into the hips and buttocks and down the legs. It can also cause degeneration in the lumbar spine.
How does Chiropractic help individuals recover from low back pain?
When the joints of the low back are out of alignment, they can irritate the ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and the discs between each segment. All of these parts are associated with the misaligned area. The misaligned area and all of its associated structures will become inflamed, causing pain, discomfort, and lack of motion. Your local San Diego chiropractor will examine the low back, and depending on results, determine if a specific chiropractic adjustment to the low back is necessary. If so, he or she will gently move the misaligned joint back into place. In addition, your chiropractor will analyze the balance of the muscles supporting your low back and suggest stretches/exercises to help balance those areas.
Your local San Diego chiropractor will also check the pelvis. Often, an injury or accident to the pelvis will cause tension and misalignment in the spinal segments of the low back as well. Once the pelvis is analyzed, your chiropractor will determine if a specific, gentle adjustment to the pelvis is necessary.
What stretches and strengthening exercises will help for low back pain?
It is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the low back to help balance and stabilize the area. Be sure to stretch both sides, but focus more on the affected side.
Please make sure your chiropractor analyzes your low back for misalignments before performing these stretches. If the low back vertebrae are misaligned when these stretches are performed, it can exacerbate your pain.
Level 1 Abdominals – strengthening the abdominals is one of the most effective ways to protect the low back. There are level 2 and 3 abdominal exercises which can be done as well after your local San Diego Chiropractor clears you to advance to the next level. Starting with an ab exercise that is too intense can irritate a low back that is already flared up.
Piriformis Stretch – stretching the piriformis muscle is another essential for low back recovery.