You have heard the stats that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from back pain and I’m sure you all know someone that has back pain right now. Why is that? Obviously it is multi factorial and each person is different however over my 15 year career I would have to say the most common factor is LIFESTYLE.
We sit too much and don’t move enough.
So the solution is obvious right. Don’t sit and start moving. Ok problem solved. Blog done.
But its not that simple is it. There are factors that are outside of your control. Genetic factors, falling down the steps factors etc. So with this blog, I’m going to run over the 5 most common factors that predispose you to developing back pain. The solution still remains the same (sit less, move more) but we will expand on the that in a later blog.
1. Congenital factors (How your particular body was put together)
This is a big one. Most people don’t think about this stuff but in my job it’s a daily occurrence. Everybody’s body is put together a little differently. Some of the more common congenital factors I see are
Anatomical leg length differences
Narrow central canal (the hole where your spinal cord sits)
When you are built a little differently it doesn’t mean you will have a life of back issues. Most people will develop in their own way and be totally fine. But with certain congenital issues it will change the mechanics of the way the spine moves and distributes load, causing asymmetrical loading and degeneration over time. In some cases there are things you can do, in others there aren’t. One thing you can do is find out.
See a chiropractor, get some xrays done and see if there is an anatomically reason why your back is consistently hurting.
I cannot tell you how many times someone has come in with back pain, having seen every practitioner under the sun without ever having an xray taken of their back and when we do, BANG! There it is, an anatomically short leg which once accounted for, the patient sees long term lasting relief.
2. Accident and falls
We all have had a fall, sporting injury or car accident. But most people think, if it doesn’t hurt any more, then its fine. WRONG! Even though the initial tissue damage from the fall or accident heals, the lasting mechanical changes to joint and muscle function lasts and will rear its head 5-10 years down the track. Had a whiplash injury from a car accident? Felt better after a week or two right? Suffering from chronic headaches 5 years later right?
Just think about it logically; if your head is whipped forward and backwards at high velocity, doesn’t it stand to reason that changes may have occurred to how those joints may work? It’s not like the only two choices are “perfectly fine” or “dislocation”! If the joints in your neck don’t work properly you will inevitable end up with headaches. The same goes for the lower back. If a scrum collapses on you, it’s highly probable that the joints and muscles of the lower back, hips and pelvis will have been altered and now things to don’t work so awesomely. Go get it checked!!
The lower back, like every other part of your body, requires you to eat and drink well so it has the building blocks for tissue repair.. If your diet is not great you will lack those building blocks making tissue repair less effective and making those tissues prone to damage. The discs of the of the spine are primarily water. No water means no disc height and decreased elasticity etc. Add a bit of sitting to that and you will have problems.
Stress has a general effect within the body, sapping nutrients and sucking up energy. But particular to the lower back it causes localised, static contracture of muscles in the glutes and lower back. This by itself can cause pain but more commonly it will predisposed the lower back to overloading as the muscles are not doing their job of dispersing load.
5. Repetitive Stress
Sports, gym work and repetitive movements at work all do the same thing. If you use your body in the same way a lot of the time you will consistently use the same structures in exactly the same way. A lack of variety will lead to injury. Examples are running, swimming, bench presses and typing, slouching, sleep postures etc. All of these use the body over and over again the exactly the same fashion. This will cause the same ligaments, muscles, joints and discs to get hit with exactly the same force over and over and over again. Those tissue will slowly become damaged then one day doing something benign like picking up a pencil off the floor your back will spaz out and here comes the pain! The pencil didn’t do it, overdoing your deadlift with poor form, no antagonist training and no stretching is what really did it.
So, as you can see from the above, there are plenty of additional factors that will contribute to back pain. What does this mean? It means there are plenty of things you can do to help your situation rather than blaming the poor pencil. Go see a chiro, get it properly assessed and get on the road to recovery!