When it comes to low back pain, there are many different categories. Please note that if you have low back pain, you may want to refer back to one of our previous blogs where we discussed the 4 most dangerous causes of low back pain. Those causes of low back pain should always be ruled out first. If you have had low back pain, the following article covers the more “chronic” causes of low back pain. These are not typically the causes of low back pain that you would see from auto accidents. Although we treat many auto accident cases in our office, we feel it is important to discuss these causes of low back pain because they are chronic and can often be mitigated with conservative therapies. Many of these conditions require lifestyle alterations. Making lifestyle changes will go a long way to mitigating the pain that a person suffers from these back pain causes. Failure to address these conditions properly can lead to debilitating pain and/or spinal surgery. These are very serious and must be evaluated by a medical professional, but they are less immediate and are not truly life-threatening.
#1 Lower Back Pain from Osteoarthritis
Let’s start with the most common of the chronic causes of low back pain. Chronic means recurring constantly or persisting for a long time. A person with chronic low back pain will experience multiple episodes over time. Osteoarthritis of the spine is often called degenerative joint disease. This is slightly different from degenerative disc disease because we are dealing more with the actual joint rather than the joint space or disc space. Medical practitioners often refer to osteoarthritis as spinal arthritis, degenerative joint disease or arthritis of the facet joints. Essentially, it has multiple names. Osteoarthritis is the most common condition that is chronic and that affects the joints. In fact it affects approximately 27 million Americans! This results in low back pain, primarily in the joints of the low back. And degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis often occur together because the disc and the facet joints are both part of the same joint complex. When a person starts to get degeneration of the discs, this will place extra stress on the facet joints leading to the formation of osteoarthritis in those facet joints. This is why you often see the two degenerative conditions together.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
When the cartilage begins to break down, the cartilage is no longer there to protect the joints and this allows the bones to begin to rub together. This causes friction which leads to inflammation, pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is often found in most people who are over the age of 70 but it isn’t just restricted to older adults. Younger adults may start to experience symptoms such as low back pain, tender joints and limited range of motion. Younger people are likely to develop degenerative joint disease after trauma such as an auto accident. I see this frequently in patients have been in auto accidents in the Clearwater and Tampa Bay area. That’s why I work very hard to restore car accident victims to their original state of health. I don’t want young people going through life with chronic debilitating pain due to the trauma that occurred during their automobile accident. After an injury or trauma, it is important that you receive therapy to restore mobility and joint integrity. Other people who are likely to experience degenerative joint disease are sports athletes who have had injuries like torn cartilage and dislocated joint and ligament injuries. If you have a very labor-intensive job that requires a lot of physical labor such as climbing up and down stairs or on ladders or being on your knees a lot, you are at a higher risk for developing degenerative joint disease/osteoarthritis.
Diagnosis for Osteoarthritis
If you have unresolved low back pain, it may be helpful to rule out osteoarthritis. The best way to do this is with and simple x-ray.
What are the most effective treatment options for managing the pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis is Chiropractic. Chiropractic treatment will help mitigate pain, reduce stress on the joints and help to prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. In addition, other proactive, noninvasive treatment therapies include stretching for back pain relief, massage therapy, heat and cold compress, yoga and low impact exercise. More aggressive treatment options include corticosteroid injections and surgery.
#2 Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is often confused with osteoarthritis. The difference is that rheumatoid arthritis is an auto immune disorder that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own bodies tissues. This does not occur from wear and tear, but it occurs from the painful swelling and erosion and subsequent joint deformity that occurs due to the autoimmune condition.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Demographics
The majority of people affected by rheumatoid arthritis are between the ages of 20 and 80. It really affects younger children. But the early signs include fatigue, joint pain, joint redness and warmth, joint stiffness, joint motion restriction and joint tenderness. Often times, a person will have other autoimmune symptoms as well.
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Bloodwork is often the gold standard. If a person has the above mentioned symptoms, and they have an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) test on bloodwork, this may indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body. Another test is called rheumatoid factor. Once this testing is been performed, then it is more easy to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
Acute treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis include prescription medications that reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. These are called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressive drugs. I take a functional approach, and I look to treat the cause of the rheumatoid arthritis. This usually frequently comes from a chronic underlying inflammatory process. And it often stems from the gut. Leaky gut is one term, another one is increased intestinal permeability. Addressing the underlying condition will often allow the body to heal itself and stop attacking its own tissues.
#3 Lower Back Pain from Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia Definition and Symptoms
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that involves widespread muscle pain and fatigue. One of the most frequent symptoms associated with fibromyalgia is an aching back
Because of fibromyalgia is unknown. There may be possible triggers such as post Trumatic stress disorder, auto accidents, and there may even be genetic factors involved and fibromyalgia. If you have any of the previous, you may be more susceptible to getting fibromyalgia.
Demographics of Fibromyalgia
Most people with fibromyalgia discover their condition BH between the ages of 20 and 50. It’s a disorder that affects all races and ethnic cities. And it’s more common if you smoke, obese, or if you have experienced trauma. Fibromyalgia is more likely to occur after a car accident injury. I’ve seen this clinically. As many as 2/3 of people with chronic low back pain have fibromyalgia. That is a staggering statistic!
There is no specific test for fibromyalgia. The old way for testing was to apply firm pressure to specific areas of your body. If you had at least 11 of the 18 spots that tested positive for tenderness, that would be an indication for fibromyalgia. Recently, there is a new set of diagnostic criteria that physicians follow. Includes the following three items. (1) widespread pain lasting at least three months. (2) presence of symptoms such as fatigue or having difficulty thinking and waking up tired. Space (3) no underlying condition that may be causing the symptoms. I understand that these seem to be very vague diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, so it is important to rule out other possible causes. Using bloodwork will often be helpful. This should include a complete blood count and erythrocytes set of intention rate test, thyroid function test and vitamin D tests. These are all very helpful for diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia.
If this is the case, you will need specific treatment therapy for your back. This may include chiropractic care, mental health treatment for anxiety and depression that may be associated with the fibromyalgia. You may also need physical therapy to help move through your day more effectively and implement stretches to ease the back pain and make fibromyalgia mailed it easier.
#4 Scoliosis Causing Lower Back Pain
Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves to the left or right, creating a C- or S-shaped curve and often occurs during a growth spurt, just before puberty.
The back pain that occurs is due to the muscular and balance. When you have this muscular and balance and the incorrect curvature of the spine, this puts unneeded stress on the body and aggravates low back.
Scoliosis generally occurs due to neuromuscular conditions. The severe conditions include cerebral palsy, poliomyelitis, and muscular dystrophy. But if a patient has neuromuscular issues, this can affect the development of the spine. Scoliosis only affects about 2% of the population, and it is most common in adolescent girls
According to the journal of chiropractic in osteopathy, scoliosis is the most common spinal deformity in school age children. According to the national scoliosis foundation, the number of scoliosis cases in the United States, alone, is estimated to be greater than 4 million. I miss is responsible for nearly half 1 million office visits per year and 133 hospital visits her in 33,000 hospital visits and 17,500 emergency room visits for children with scoliosis.
Diagnosis for Scoliosis
Scoliosis can be diagnosed by a physician. If you’re at home and you want to check yourself, there is a test called Adams orthopedic test. With Adams task, the patient will bend forward. This test is helpful for determining scoliosis. Positive Adams test occurs when one side of the rib cage is higher than the other. The convex side is the one with the red hump. If you suspect scoliosis and have low back pain, this should be confirmed by physician. X-rays will be taken and proper treatment will be given.
Treatment for adolescent scoliosis is different than treatment for adults. Adolescent scoliosis treatment falls into three categories. (1) observation) (2) bracing (3) surgery. Observation is for patients who have curves less than 25° and are still growing for patients who have curves that are less than 50° and have completed growth. Bracing is for patients with curves that measure between 25 and 40° during the growth phase. Surgical treatment is for those who have curves greater than 45° while they are still growing or greater than 50° when growth has stopped.
For people who have mild scoliosis, it is important to see if position. The position will encourage that you limit your activities to prevent injuring your spine and musculoskeletal system.
#5 Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition that occurs when the area around your spinal cord encroaches inward. The bone actually grows inward, putting pressure on the nerves that travel down the spine. Spinal stenosis of generally found in the cervical spine (neck) and in the low back. Surprisingly enough, some people with spinal stenosis may not have symptoms.
Spinal Stenosis Causes
Spinal Stenosis is caused by degeneration of the spine. It is a result of a slow deterioration of the spinal anatomy.
Spinal Stenosis Demographics
Spinal stenosis may be the result of many different things. It is generally found in people who have experienced significant trauma, as well as people who are in the elderly demographic. Over time, generally, the wear and tear on your spine causes this specific type of inflammation, or spinal arthritis. Over time, especially from trauma, the soft tissue between your bones begins to weaken. This results in bulging discs and ligament laxity which allows bone spurs and extra growths on the vertebrae. This extra bone growth causes the canal stenosis.
Diagnosis for Spinal Stenosis
In order to diagnose spinal stenosis, a physician would need an extensive view of the anatomy of your spine. In order to diagnose spinal stenosis, an MRI is required. An MRI will reveal the soft tissue anatomy, identify if the spinal canal is narrowing, where it narrowing and how bad it is narrowing. In addition, the MRI will also rule out other conditions that may also be contributing to your low back pain such as pinched nerves, and bulging or herniated discs
Spinal Stenosis Treatment
Once you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, it is best to consider conservative treatment first. This includes non-surgical options such as chiropractic treatment, stretching, exercise, physical therapy and weight loss. If you are a smoker, you should stop because it will restrict circulation to the discs and supportive spinal structures, allowing them to deteriorate. Think of a sponge. When it is wet and moist, it is fluent and able to bend and flex. When it is dry, it becomes brittle and prone to cracking and falling apart.
Getting a Low Back Pain Evaluation
If you are having low back pain that has been unresolved, it is important to see a medical professional.
At Rainey Chiropractic and Car Injury Clinic, we are trained at diagnosing and treating low back pain. Doctor Rainey is a second-generation chiropractor. He and his family carry a combined 70+ years of natural healing and pain relief.
When you come into your office, we will provide you with a thorough examination to find out if you have injuries that you may not be aware of. Don’t stay home thinking you will get better. Get a diagnosis, and get treatment so you can be on the road to recovery.
Click the link below to schedule a free consultation with our highly qualified office.