Causes of Back Pain

It is easiest to consider two different aspects to back pain.

Firstly; the underlying problem that most of us will have from an early age.

Poor posture can be part of the problem but the most significant long-term feature is stiffness to the spine.

A healthy spine is one of the strongest parts of your body. It is made of bony blocks joined by discs to give it strength and flexibility and is reinforced by the facet joints and strong ligaments. A healthy spine can absorb a great deal of stress through this flexibility but when these joints stiffen, and no longer allow flexible movement, stress will travel along the spine to its two extremities. The overstressing caused by this lack of flexible movement leaves us prone to the sudden onset of acute pain, most commonly to the low back or neck. This acute pain will often start for no apparent reason and if left untreated can lead to long lasting chronic pain.

The majority of people in this country will have a “bad back” by the time they leave school.

When this underlying stiffness is not causing pain or discomfort people are largely unaware they have a  problem. Lucky people can reach a significant age without any pain. A very lucky few may never suffer any pain to their backs. The unlucky majority will suffer intermittent episodes of pain from a young age. These episodes can range from minor aches to the most debilitating pain.

The effectiveness of treatment is much improved, whatever is directly causing your pain or other uncomfortable symptoms, if we deal with this underlying problem by mobilising the whole of the spine.

Secondly; back pain. (When we use the term “back pain” we should include any pain to the back, neck and shoulders. In addition, peripheral pain felt in the arms and legs, such as sciatica; paraesthesia, commonly called pins and needles and numbness to the arms and legs.)

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There are only about 1% of back pain disorders that are caused by really serious problems such as a spinal cord compression, malignancy, fracture or inflammatory condition.
Probably only around 5% of back pain is linked to nerve compression through a disc prolapse “slipped disc” or herniation.

The vast majority of back pain is caused by specific joint hypo mobility. Where one or more joints are held in an unnaturally fixed position through muscle “guarding” or “spasm”.
If you take any individual joint to the end of its range of movement it will become painful. For example; bend any finger backwards as far as it will move. When you reach the “end range” the joint will become painful. Equally if you bend the same finger as far forward as possible it will also become painful.

The stiffer, or less mobile, the finger joint the less movement that occurs before you reach the “end range” and the sooner you reach the point of pain. Also the less time you can spend in that position before it becomes unbearable. Now if you imagine your finger joint in a fixed position, then there is little or no movement available, in any direction, before you reach the point of pain.

You will of course realize that there is nothing physically wrong with your finger joint. Pain arises purely through mechanical means and lack of movement.
Apply that same principal to your spine. If you have any joint, or group of joints, held in an unnaturally fixed position it will cause pain. If the position the joint is held in causes compression of a spinal nerve then the pain can be felt anywhere the nerve goes to. In these cases radicular or referred pain can give you similar pain, in the cases of the lumbar spine this will be a sciatic pain, than the pain caused by a disc bulge or prolapse.
So what causes the sudden onset of joint immobility? Put simply, it is muscle “guarding” or “spasm”. Where there is a sudden onset of muscle tension that prevents the joint from moving as it is designed to.

Conclusion;

With very few exceptions, any individual leaving school will have an underlying back problem. This underlying stiffness to the spine will precede acute pain by focusing stress to the more vulnerable areas. Usually the low back or neck and shoulders. Then, often for no apparent reason, a muscle or group of muscles will go into spasm in order to “guard” or protect the vulnerable joint. This muscle guarding or spasm causes immobility of the affected joint and pain.

If the underlying stiffness of the spine is left untreated then this underlying problem can itself progress to causing the more gradual onset of chronic pain and discomfort.

Treatment;

The treatment available at the BackCare Clinic, with the use of Theraflex, MET and CranialSacral Therapy has the ability to not only relieve acute pain but also address the long-term underlying stiffness, which precedes the onset of acute pain. Or, if left untreated, can develop into long-term chronic pain.