My back has gone again…..where has it gone?
Its a common question I get asked when a client comes in to the clinic with excruciating back pain and its usually followed by something like “all i was doing was bending down to pick up the shower gel”
One of the first replies I give is that bending is “great” for your back but its probably not something that we are going to be doing today. Oh and the shower gel certainly isn’t the cause of your back pain.
If you feel that the moment you begin to get back pain was when you performed a similar task like the example above, then what you are describing is a symptom. So unless there was a large impact from an accident or a high impact force there is a very good chance that your back problems started long before the pain reared its ugly head.
Now back pain can come in all shapes and sizes, it can be dull, sharp, hot, cold, deep and superficial but there are a few key warning signs and its usually best to get your doctor to check you out before making an appointment with myself but feel free to call me if you need some advice.
So see your Doc if your back pain has the following symptoms:
- Your back pain is intense, constant and wakes you at night
- You have difficulty in bowel and bladder control
- An associated high fever above 99 degrees with chills and sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain radiating down one or both legs and into the calf and foot
- A sense that you have a foot drop and difficulty walking and raising your ankle
- Deep throbbing pain into your abdomen and pelvis
- A history of Osteoporosis or cancer
The good news is that a very high percentage of back pain won’t have the above symptoms and is very treatable with Osteopathic treatment and some patience from yourself.
Back pain can be start due to a combination of factors.
- Old injuries
- Repetitive daily motions
- Altered movement patterns from compensating for pain in the past
- Overloading the same muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons and discs.
Back Pain: The Cumulative Injury Cycle (CIC)
You have probably never heard of the CIC but is a very common reason for why pain and dysfunction occurs. Over many years we will begin to develop areas of chronic tightness in our tissues due to the repetitive daily movements that we go through. Our muscles begin to tighten and weaken leading to tension/friction and pressure which over time, can increase the likelihood of injury and inflammation developing.
The cumulative injury cycle is self perpetuating and its affects ultimately lead to:
1: A change in our joints range of motion
2: An increase in joint degeneration
3: A reduction in the how the tissues move and glide with each other.
4: A decrease in the forces that they can absorb
5: A change in the tissue texture to feeling stringy
6: Our joints lose the capability to move relative to each other.
A great example of this is with the pelvis and hips. We sit on our butt from the age of 3 and nothing really changes for the rest of our lives unfortunately and the CIC goes about its work. I’m not saying sitting is bad for you but 6-8 hours of being on your butt is and means there even more reason to give those tissues some good old TLC.
As you can see from the photo below, your glutes that are highlighted in red have an important connection into the thoracolumbar fascia (thats the white connective tissue above the glutes). This clearly shows that the glutes will influence the health of your back and if they are compromised in their strength and have adapted to the CIC over time, then they become less efficient at absorbing and transferring loads (the dreaded shower gel) through the system and therefore compromising the stresses placed on deeper structures such as the spinal discs and joints.