Have Low Back Pain?
Updated: May 24
Back pain is never fun, and unfortunately, it's very common. Stats show that 8 out of 10 people experience back pain at some point of their lifetime, if even it is a short bout...That's most of us! You can check out the article source on that here.
Generalized back pain is typically caused by muscle weakness. When we think of back pain, it tends to be an umbrella term so today let's break it down into the most common causes. Keep in mind, without a proper evaluation by a professional, back pain can be complicated and is usually better to get a little support and structured advice. In this blog, we are not providing medical advice, we just want to break down the different diagnoses for educational purposes and offer some simple and easy exercises to hopefully help reduce pain.
The back/spine/core structure is complicated and spans the entire trunk. For today, we are going to focus on the lower back. There are 2 main diagnoses that are very common when it comes to the lower back pain:
#1 is often across the small of the back and will feel more diffuse in nature after an episode of spasm or greater intensity.
#2 is often classified as SI Joint pain (sacroiliac joint)
The reason we want to differentiate these two diagnosis is because they can present in similar ways but the treatments are very different.
They both can present with sciatica or nerve pain that moves into the hip or down the leg.
There is generally pain in low back area with both of these diagnoses that sitting will often make worse or increase the aching or mechanical type of pain (sort of when you feel stuck, like you can't stand up straight).
Often prolonged periods of standing or long walks may cause an increase fatigue and then pain.
But here is the juice, what actually sets them apart from one another:
Generalized low back pain, which may include muscle weakness or pain caused by a disc or a facet joint:
and the presentation can be very different!
Generally the back will hurt across the entire lower back or start in the center back(as seen in the first photo) and spread out wider and down into the hips throughout the day.
Will feel better or worse with position changes such as with forward bending or with extending backward.
The pain can often feel very mechanical like something is just getting in the way.
The muscles along the spine will tend to tighten and be more rope like.
Stretching will generally feel good but the relief only lasts a short period of time.
This pain will live more specific to the top area where the sacrum meets the ilium with the biggest indicator being that it generally will only reside on one side of the lower back.
Forward bending is often the most painful but generally only through the first few degrees of the bend and once the hands pass the knees, then the pain will ease for further reaching.
Can be caused by trauma or a jolt to the body. - Even a seemingly innocent jolt such as stepping in a pot hole while running.
Pregnancy can make you more susceptible to this type of pain due to the fluctuations in hormones and ligamentous laxity.
Lower extremity weakness or tightness can tug this in a way to cause the pain or cause enough of an imbalance to create the joint pain.
You may feel uneven like one leg is longer than the other or that the seams of your pants don't line up the same on both legs.
Hips just feel "funky" or "off" during sitting. standing or during movements.
For both of these conditions, core and hip and pelvic strengthening alongside mobility can be very helpful! The more stability that comes from both your core and your hips will provide more stability overall for your back and pelvis- providing relief for the the pain. For specific exercises for core and glute strengthening check out this video!
Low back pain is a much more generalized term used in the medical field to refer to a number of different conditions that cause pain in the back whereas for our SIJD there is a specific cause- and that is a lack of form closure.
Form closure is where the forces generated from your muscles, ligaments and other supporting structures to help keep the sacrum **picture of anatomy somewhere in here** in place. So if there is pain due to a lack of a form closure, we can have pain, especially if we're doing movements that have one leg in front of the other or using one leg over the other. Often, the tension from the muscles aren't enough to hold the sacrum in place while you perform movements. To help to prevent it from getting out in the future we'd suggest doing a form closure program and incorporating it into your general strengthening program. SIJ can be chronic- so important to continue to keep hip stability at least 1-3x/week.
If you want to help your SIJ watch this where Dr. Shyla shows you how to do a SIJ reset!
Overall, if we add some core strengthening and some basic hip strengthening exercises into your routine it should help to reduce your pain. If you are looking for more specific help with your pain or have questions come set up a visit with us!!
Written by: Melody May, LPTA and edited by Dr. Shyla Mesch, DPT.