Lower back pain is what drove Dr. Grier into chiropractic care when he was a 20 year-old college baseball player. In fact, it is what drives most people to chiropractic care, since around 80% of people will suffer from low back pain during their lives and chiropractic care is a well known solution for low back pain.
It is well known that low back pain is the #1 cause of disability in the US workforce. It stops us from being optimal parents & workers and prevents us from enjoying what life has to offer, as every move we make is painful.
Low back pain is common because of the stresses of our modern living. As a culture we tend to sit way more than humans were designed to sit. We also live a very inflammatory lifestyle through the way we eat and the chemicals we get exposed to. That combination (sitting and inflammation) leave us primed for low back pain. This can develop slowly over time, starting mildly and then progressing, or it can arrive quickly when we ask alot of our overstressed body by doing yard work, shoveling snow, lifting (usually with poor form), or playing hard on the weekends.
Caring for low back pain quickly is crucial. This does not mean simply treating the pain, but rather healing the cause. After all, if we simply want the pain to go away we can use high powered pain medication for that–but it won’t help the healing process and the underlying problem will remain. Addressing the cause of low back pain quickly will help heal the damage that has been done which, when left alone, leads to permanent degeneration–the process often referred to as arthritis. The longer the problem (not just the pain) persists, the longer it will take to truly heal.
Low back pain can stem from a variety of causes, including muscle imbalances, ligament and other joint problems, and disc issues. The cause that is more common and less obvious is subluxation of the lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, and/or pelvis. This is the condition where the spinal joint is no longer moving properly or is out of alignment, or both, causing nerve irritation, reflex muscle spasm, and inflammation.
Determining the specific causes of low back pain is important and at Bright Futures Chiropractic we take a thorough approach to finding the root cause of the low back pain through health history and examination, and then create a specific care plan to help those who suffer from low back pain to heal and recover.
How We Treat Low Back Pain in Kalona, IA
Pro Tip: We are so successful at low back pain care here because we don’t actually treat the pain–we care for the body and correct the cause of the low back pain, so the body can heal and function normally. And a normally functioning body doesn’t have low back pain!
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
Every new patient encounter starts with an in-depth consultation. As doctors, we need to get to know you and your story to know what your body has been through, and what you’re experiencing now. We need to know how your low back pain is impacting your life, and most importantly we need to know your goals–what you need and want to get back to doing in life!
During our examination we will perform a complete spinal evaluation for proper alignment and movement, along with digital spinal x-rays and testing your nervous system function with specialized technology that helps us locate the specific areas of concern. This allows us to truly get to the root of the problem.
These examination findings and your goals then help us determine the best path forward for you to get the results you desire.
At Bright Futures Chiropractic we use our on-site digital x-ray system to take the highest quality x-rays in Washington County, IA. With this technology we can see how the spine and pelvis are aligned and how long problems have been present by analyzing the amount of damage present in the spine.
It is tragic how often we find degeneration in the spine of people who are in their 30s, 40s, and even 20s. Many times this degeneration could have been prevented with appropriate chiropractic care years prior.
We utilize our digital x-rays to fine tune our care recommendations to each individual, allowing us to customize your care plan and help you recover from low back pain as completely as possible.
Specific Chiropractic Care / Kalona, IA
As chiropractors, we specialize in finding and correcting subluxation. This is a problem that occurs when a vertebra (bone in your spine) moves out of its normal position and/or is stuck and not moving properly, which can cause low back stiffness and irritation to nerves in that area. When nerves are irritated, they can become symptomatic and can cause low back pain due to inflammation and muscle spasm. It is also possible that subluxations don’t cause obvious symptoms, but lead to underlying dysfunction in the body. Correcting subluxation allows the nerves to function properly and the body to heal itself.
Many times, people with low back pain have subluxation in the lumbar spine–the bottom 5 vertebrae of the spine, and/or the pelvis. The nerves in this area emerge from the spine and travel around the lower torso, down into the waistline and into the buttock region, and can give sensation and movement to the legs and feet.
When these nerves are irritated, one of the most common symptoms they cause is low back pain. Through specific chiropractic care to this area, nerve interference can be removed, and nerve function can be restored. For many, this will eliminate the low back pain they are experiencing–and any other dysfunction that might not be noticeable.
If subluxation is the cause of your low back pain, it won’t heal until that is addressed, and no amount of drugs, ice, hot baths, or muscle rub will resolve the problem.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
Low back pain is often caused and made worse by poor posture. And poor posture is an epidemic in our society. Years and years of daily smartphone use, computer work, lack of intense physical activity, and sitting too much have caused forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and imbalanced muscles in the lower back, hips, and legs for many people. Certain muscles get weak, and other muscles get tight. This creates an unhealthy imbalance and nerve irritation that takes a specific approach to correct.
At Bright Futures Chiropractic, we identify postural problems that contribute to low back pain and use specific corrective exercises in our care plans. We give patients video and print resources to learn and apply the exercises, then we check in with them to make sure they are doing them correctly.
Here’s a sneak peek at one of our favorite exercises for low back pain!
Common Causes of Low Back Pain in Kalona, IL
Bulged Lumbar Discs
The spinal disc is the shock absorber or the cushion in between individual vertebrae. Discs can be imagined as being like a jelly doughnut. The fibers that are around the outside of the disc are like the doughnut and the nucleus, which is a gelatinous material, is like the jelly of the doughnut.
With the stresses of modern life (poor movement, sleep, posture, and nutrition), over time the discs can wear down and dehydrate. When that happens those fibers begin to tear, especially if you have an injury, pick something up incorrectly, or get into an accident. If those fibers tear enough the gelatinous nucleus takes the path of least resistance and moves toward the outside of the disc, creating a bulge. That bulge irritates the nerves that travel through the spine and that creates pain in your low back that can also radiate down your leg.
Herniated Lumbar Discs
Like with bulged discs, the outside fibers can begin to tear and the nucleus can start to move towards the outside of the disc. If the fibers tear enough, the nucleus can actually break through the exterior of the disc and sit on a nerve root. Herniated discs tend to create more leg pain then low back pain and they also create more intense pain. When the disc ruptures, that takes the pressure off the low back area, but it creates a lot of pain down into the leg because the nucleus is out of the disc and sitting on the nerve.
A natural way for the herniated disc to resolve itself is a process called fagocytosis – your body sees the nucleus as a foreign object so it will inflame to start to “eat up” that nucleus and reabsorb it. If that doesn’t work, it can create pain that is usually enough to cause people to start to look into surgery. We start with a natural care approach to herniated discs, but in certain situations surgery may be the only option.
Subluxation is the dysfunction that chiropractors are looking for. Subluxation is dysfunction in the spine, or misalignment of the spine, which creates nerve irritation. The nerves are then what create the symptoms and the low back pain.
Specific chiropractic adjustments are the only solution to a subluxation. You can do all of the stretches and exercises that you want, but if a vertebra is stuck out of alignment or is not moving properly, until you get that motion back or correct the alignment, you’ll continue to have issues.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition where stress on the spine has been present for a long time and the discs between the vertebrae begin to break down. Obesity, smoking, poor diet, and physical work with poor body mechanics are all hard on the spine and contribute to Degenerative Disc Disease. Similar to a bulging or herniated disc, as discs become dehydrated and break down they start to lose their natural height. A fully hydrated disc has height to create proper openings for the nerves to emerge from the spine and travel throughout the body. When the disc starts to shrink, the foramen – the holes that the nerves come out of – start to get smaller, irritating the nerves. This is what causes that low back pain and potentially radiating pain.
Unfortunately, with Degenerative Disc Disease, whatever damage has been done can’t be reversed, but it can be stopped, allowing some of the damaged tissue to heal. This is why it’s so important to receive care as soon as possible whenever you’re dealing with low back pain.
Spinal Stenosis can create a lot of significant symptoms, mainly because pressure can be put on the spinal cord as well as the adjacent nerves. Usually with Spinal Stenosis people will find that standing or walking can aggravate their pain and that resting, sitting down, or even bending forward can help relieve some of that pressure. Not only can it cause pain, but it can also cause weakness, numbness, or organ dysfunction – like bladder or bowel incontinence. Those are emergency situations and you need to seek emergency medical care immediately.
Muscle strains are a very common cause of low back pain. They tend to be dull and achy, and the pain is intensified with movement or putting yourself into certain positions. Normally the pain stays localized in the lower back versus radiating into your legs or other areas. Muscle strains can be caused by sudden activity, over time with repetitive motion, poor posture, or weak core muscles.
Muscle strains usually resolve in four to six weeks, but we want to address them early if possible because, a lot of times, they are a symptom of a deeper problem. This is why, at Bright Futures Chiropractic, we always attack the root cause of the problem versus just addressing the symptoms.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum – the triangle bone at the base of your spine – meets the pelvis. This joint isn’t built to move a lot and problems can be created by hypermobility, moving too much, or hypomobility, moving too little. 15-30% of all low back pain cases are caused by SI joint dysfunction. The SI joint works to absorb the shock between the upper body and the pelvis and legs. Causes of SI joint dysfunction are leg length discrepancies, pregnancy, giving birth, chronic sitting, and repeatedly stressing the joints.
Facet Joint Dysfunction
Facet joints are the joints at the back of the spine where the vertebrae meet. When those joints get stuck it causes significant pain. Furthermore, there is cartilage inside those joints that, when loss of motion persists, can break down and become inflamed. People that have facet joint dysfunction normally feel pain when they go into extension, meaning they lean back, or if they’re standing for long periods of time because that loads those joints.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I be worried about low back pain?
You should be worried about low back pain as soon as you start to feel pain in your low back. Low back pain is your body’s alarm system telling you that something is wrong. Usually pain is the last thing to show up and the first thing to leave, so we want to address it as soon as it starts so it doesn’t turn into more of a chronic issue.
What can I do to relieve my lower back pain in Kalona, IA?
We talked a lot about ways to relieve your low back pain in the sections above, but the BEST THING that you can do is to reach out to our office to get an examination and find out what exactly is causing your lower back pain. The cause of your low back pain will determine what’s going to help relieve it.
How do I know if my back pain is serious?
All back pain is serious. We don’t want any dysfunction happening in your spine or really in your body overall. If by ‘serious’ you mean a medical emergency, if you’re noticing any type of nerve issues – which can be tingling, numbness, weakness, inability to control your bladder or your bowels – those are a step above just general low back pain. That would be something where you absolutely need to consult with a professional.
What causes low back pain?
There are many causes of low back pain. It could be acute, like an injury or an accident. It could be something chronic or long term, like improper body mechanics, poor posture, or weak core muscles. It is important to address not just what’s been going on in the last couple of days, but also what’s been going on over the last few weeks, months, or years.
How should I sleep with lower back pain?
The best way to sleep is on your back with your spine in a neutral position, meaning that it’s not too arched and it’s not pushed forward more than it should be. Having a pillow that allows you to keep your neck in a neutral position, as well as using a pillow underneath your knees to take any pressure off of your low back, even a small pillow in the small of your low back for support.
Sleeping on your side is next best, you just want to make sure that your pillows aren’t pushing your head to one side more than the other. So it’s in a neutral position, as well as having a pillow in between your knees to keep your hips from getting out of alignment.
Sleeping on your stomach is the least ideal situation when it comes to sleeping and often leads to low back and neck pain.
How do I tell if lower back pain is muscle or disc?
Normally with a muscle strain, the low back pain will be dull and achy. It may diffuse over both sides of the low back but it mainly stays within the lumbar region.
With a disc issue, you not only have low back pain, but you also can have radiation into the buttocks, the hip, or even into the leg or the foot. Discs tend to have more nerve involvement than a pulled muscle or muscle strain. The best thing to do would be to get it examined by a chiropractor that specializes in determining the cause of the pain.
How does a slipped disc feel?
A slipped disc is another way of saying a disc bulge. Normally you get low back pain as well as radiating pain wherever the nerve that’s being pressed is traveling. Depending on how badly the nerve is being pressed, the pain can run all the way down into the foot or the toes. Usually you can tell if a disc is pushing really hard against a nerve based on how far down the leg the pain travels. You also may feel more pain when you increase the pressure inside your body. So if you hold your breath or you sneeze, that can create more pressure inside of your body that can create more intense pain.
Why won’t my lower back pain go away?
The body is capable of self healing in a lot of situations. If you have chronic low back pain, however, it can point to a bigger problem. It could be something that’s been there for years and has just never met the threshold of creating pain. It could be a new injury or it could be something more serious. The only way to really know what’s going on is to seek out professional care.
Can a chiropractor in Kalona, IA help with lower back pain?
ABSOLUTELY. Low back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions that we care for at Bright Futures Chiropractic. A chiropractor should be the first person you go to because this is the thing that we specialize in and it’s always best to try a natural approach before you go the medical route.
What is better for lower back pain, chiropractor or massage?
It really depends on what is causing the lower back pain, but I always recommend going to a chiropractor first. They will be able to address or assess whether the problem is coming from the spine – the misalignment or dysfunction of the vertebrae putting pressure on nerves which is creating the muscle problems or if it’s just a muscle issue. If it’s just a muscle issue, then soft tissue and massage work will help quite a bit. If the tight muscle or the muscle spasm is being created as a symptom of pressure being put on the nerve at the spinal level, then until you take the pressure off the nerve at the spinal level the muscle will continue to be a problem. You may be able to get the muscle to relax or feel better in the short term, but if you don’t address the root cause it will continue to come back.
How can you tell if your spine is out of alignment?
The best way to determine if your spine is out of alignment is to seek help from a chiropractor because that’s what they are trained to address. If you are having some type of spinal issue, muscle tightness, spasms, or nerve pain, there usually will be a subluxation or a spinal misalignment. Visit a chiropractor and receive a comprehensive history and examination.