BACK PAIN, THE MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CONDITION
Back pain, as a general or non-specific diagnosis, is an issue that can affect 60-70% of people in their lifetime according to the National Institute of Health. If we include specifically diagnosed back conditions those numbers increase to approximately 80%. Hence, we have many clients questioning their back pain and how it may relate to our lower body mechanics. Back pain, like most conditions, has multiple layers: structural, injury specific, or ergonomic. In rare cases it can be related to more serious underlying conditions*.
Back pain is an issue that can affect 60-70% of people in their lifetime.
The lower vertebrae of the spine depends heavily on the stability of the truck and pelvis. Thus, pain is common in the lower back, or the lower thoracic spine, and most commonly in the lumbar and sacral spine. When we consider the body’s centre of mass, this would be roughly the L4/L5 vertebrae, which is a crucial segment of the body. Function in this area is pivotal to maintain balance and alignment as we move this centre of mass from one place to another in infinite patterns.
Majority of back pain sufferers will experience discomfort in lumbar and sacral spine. When we consider the body’s centre of mass, this would be roughly the L4/L5 vertebrae, which is a crucial segment of the body. Function in this area is pivotal to maintain balance and alignment as we move this centre of mass from one place to another in infinite patterns.
Typically, back pain is diagnosed as an acute injury or degenerative condition, both of which can be easily aggravated. Repetitive strain, improper movement patterns, structural weakness and imbalance can all exacerbate these underlying pain conditions. By assessing posture, movement and the ability to align (naturally or with the assistance of shoes, insoles or bracing), the goal is to encourage the body to move more efficiently through the spine. There is an infinite amount of research relating to workplace ergonomics, movement during sport, various therapies for treatment, and education relating to the function of the spine.
*Serious underlying conditions are rare to see within a pedorthic scope, but warrant investigation by a surgeon or specialist. These rare conditions could include: infections, tumors, inflammatory disease in the joints such as spondyloarthritis, neurological damage, osteoporosis or genetic/congenital conditions.
COMMON CAUSES OF BACK PAIN
Left: body posture stands at 90 degrees. Center: If body column were rigid, on medium 2 inch heel, angle would be reduced to 70 degrees. Right: to prevent falling over and to regain 90 degree angle, the body column must make adjustments.
TREATMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR BACK PAIN
Studies, infographics and research meta-analyses abound regarding what does or doesn’t help to treat back pain. Considering many unique individual variations, treating back pain becomes another n=1 experiment. For example, custom orthotics can be a valuable treatment option in the short or long term, and can significantly improve pain levels in some clients. However, for others they may provide only minimal relief. To achieve the best results, it is best to look closely at the causes of the back pain, and not the symptoms alone.
Time off doesn’t truly fix back pain.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR BACK PAIN
NO SILVER BULLET; PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Back pain in modern western society appears endemic, with no clear cut solution that fits everyone. The body changes so quickly, for better or worse, based on what is going on in an individual’s life. As occupational stressors, training habits, weight, age, and mental health fluctuate, so can problems in the back. We often see ‘the fix’ as a moving target. By getting to know what works for you from all the angles of supported care, this offers a chance for that target to be easier to hit.