Lower-back pain symptoms can stem from organic but less prevalent sources, such as a tumor or infection, or more common, non-organic, mechanical agents, such as motion injuries. In rare cases, symptoms and pain can actually stem from both. Because of this, it’s important to take any continuing sources of lower-back pain seriously – not only for pain relief, but to identifying underlying cause.
Lower-Back Pain Symptoms Can Occur Beyond the Back
A mechanical disc injury often presents itself as lower-back pain, but it can also cause hip, groin or leg pains. These can even occur without accompanying lower-back symptoms. Yes, that’s correct. A back problem without back pain! There may be numbness or tingling in the back, hip or down to the toes. Sciatica (radiating pain down one or both legs) is a common finding with disc injury/damage. Patients often describe their back pain as deep and boring, leaving them unable to find a comfortable position. These symptoms can come on after a particular activity, like bending over while gardening, after a gym workout or yoga session. The back pain can also appear for relatively innocuous reason such as, “sleeping funny,” pulling off boots, or getting out of the car wrong.
When a patient presents with a back injury, doctors will want to explore the cause of the injury. Those everyday activity explanations often result in diagnosis of “lumbar strain/sprain” or a muscle and/or ligament injury. But is it really that simple? Since there is no radiating pain, it can’t be a disc, right? Not necessarily. What if there is a disc injury and the diagnosis missed it? Should the treatment be different?
Treating the Proper Diagnosis
To differentiate a disc injury from a muscle strain or ligament sprain, the tissues need to be stressed during the doctor’s examination. If it turns out that the patient is both flexion (bending to decrease an angle) and extension (bending to increase an angle) intolerant, then it cannot be a muscle or ligament issues – at least not exclusively. If the symptoms diminish with abdominal bracing while testing, it would again rule against muscle/ligament and imply disc injury, especially as the spine is tested in its neutral position. Examination needs to be tissues-stress specific, to help rule in or out the various structures involved (muscle, ligament, nerve, disc, vertebra, etc.), which will ultimately determine the treatment required.
More importantly it can determine which treatments or exercises to pursue, as well as movements to avoid. If the patient is not taught spine-sparing movements and continues to aggravate the lower back, NO treatment can be effective. Conservative treatments, medications, injections and even surgery become ineffective treatments. This may be one of the main reasons that patients with chronic lower-back symptoms are not getting the relief that they are so desperately seeking.
Not learning correct spine-sparing movements and those movements which to avoid places patients at risk for not only healing present conditions, but complicating them. This is an essential element for all patients working with Dr. Tiltmann, DC at Financial District Chiropractic.
For those with chronic lower-back pain, we typically don’t engage chiropractic adjustments. Instead, we follow this plan of action:
Plan of Action for Mechanical Lower-Back Pain Symptoms
- Determine what movements or postures cause low back pain for each patient
- Eliminate the cause of pain and find pain free postures
- Develop postures and movement patterns that enable pain-free function
- Provide essential exercises to stabilize the torso, core and spine when moving through life
- Develop a walking plan
- Mobilize the hips
- Make daily use of exercises based on patterns of movements: push, pull, carry, etc.
- Make healthy spine choices when engaging in any activity
Lower-back pain symptoms, if properly explored and discussed can often lead to more accurate treatments and provided faster, effective and long-term pain relief. If it’s time to stop simply treating lower-back pain but stop it and prevent future issues, visit Dr. Tiltmann at Financial District Chiropractic.