Back pain is the second most common diagnosis seen by physicians in their offices. 85% of the US population will suffer an episode of back pain sometime in their life.
Why is this? Alot has to do with the design of our body. It is the price we pay for walking upright on two legs. In humans, the force of gravity pulls directly down through the vertical spine vertically compressing it together over the years. In other mammals such as horses, apes, and cows, the spine is horizontal and the pull of gravity does not compress the spine together.
Most back pain falls under the category of mechanical back pain. The spine has to move in intricate ways to make the whole movements of bending, extending, and twisting. Therefore, the “mechanics” of the spine are important in order for all the vertebrae (the bones) to be able to move. Mechanical back pain means that the joints, muscles, and ligaments of the spine are not moving correctly at the right time. This can cause increased strain on certain parts of your back, especially the very lower back, L-4,L-5, and S-1.
Why do the mechanics of the spine change and start to cause pain?
This is due to a variety of reasons including small traumas from lifting heavier objects, bending and twisting, repetitive strain, accidents, weakness from prolonged sitting, and changes in your core strength.
Most of our daily activities today involve sitting which causes our abdominal and back muscles to become weakened. This in turn does not provide the necessary support to the spine and causes strain. The strain causes inflammation which leads to pain. The pain can be localized to the back area or even radiate into the buttocks or backs of the legs.
Millions of people a year rely on over the counter medication and back braces to get through their day. The unfortunate reality is that 75% of people with back problems will have a reoccurrence of that back pain. This is because the cause of the problem, the mechanical movement, is not addressed by treating with drugs or a hot pack. More and more people are realizing the full benefits of manual physical therapy to address the cause of their back pain and learn what they can do to have lasting relief.