Pain in the lower back is an affliction suffered by many people, and this is one of the most common complaints chiropractors work on. Almost everyone will experience lower back pain (LBP) that requires the help of an expert in body alignment sometime during their lifetime, whether due to heavy lifting or bad posture. Posture has been a source of research inquiry where back pain is concerned for decades.
Research Focusing On Lower Back Pain
In December of last year, researchers examined lower back posture in patients suffering from LBP and also examined how this is linked to diseases of the disks of the vertebrae. The lower back naturally forms a concave arch, which is referred to in medical literature as the ‘lumbar lordosis’. The arch differs between individuals regarding the depth and angle of curvature. There is usually a marked difference between men and women.
Many people are afflicted by disk disease which causes the gaps between disks to diminish. In another study, 50 patients who had chronic lower back pain and disk degeneration were measured against another 50 whose disks were more intact. In the trial, the degree of curvature in the lower back was examined. Those who had degenerative disks had smaller lower back arches. Researchers deduced that those who have a flatter curve are more likely to have degenerating disks, yet it was unclear whether disk degeneration caused the curve depth to decrease or vice versa.
What Does This Mean For People Suffering From Lower Back Pain?
There are a number of important takeaways from the study outlined above:
- Many patients seeking chiropractic care for LBP find the pain decreases if they are bent forwards.
- Others also have a contrary experience, where their back responds better to a position that preserves the usual curve of the arch.
This difference can be explained by the fact that different muscles in the lower back are involved in the creation of lower back pain. The disks in the spine help to limit damage to the spine from physical trauma, and also protect the trunk. Each disk has a fluid-like center, which is surrounded by ‘the annulus’, a type of cartilage. Because the disk is almost 80% water, as people age and water inside the disk reduces, the flexibility of the spine also decreases proportionally. Degenerative disk disease also causes the openings through which the spinal cord and nerve roots pass to narrow. The reason bending forward can alleviate pain is that bending forwards causes the gaps between disks to broaden, decreasing pressure. This is why old people can sometimes be seen leaning on shopping carts or Zimmer frames, as this reduces pain.
People who have herniated or ‘slipped’ disks tend to find an opposite stance alleviates lower back pain. Bending backwards causes the liquid within each disk to shift forwards in relation to the torso, and this reduces pressure on the nerve root through the opposite posture. Taking this posture reduces the pain caused by pinched nerves.
Do you suffer from lower back pain? Have you ever thought about receiving treatment for it?
Contact us today to schedule an appointment where we can investigate a pain-free solution for you.