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Category: Low Back

Low Back Pain

As an adult, you probably have experienced low back pain, in fact the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) states that 75-85% of adults will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime.  As you may know, low back pain can greatly affect your life and make daily activities very difficult. Before we dive into how to treat low back pain, let’s take a look at why you may be dealing with low back pain in the first place.

Causes

Because the low back is a main area of stabilization, support and rotation, many different factors can contribute to pain felt there. Some of the causes include strained muscles, sprained ligaments, nerve irritation, degeneration, overuse, intervertebral disc injury, spinal stenosis, scoliosis as well as an acute injury.

Overuse/acute injury is a very common cause of low back pain. A low back injury can occur by doing a lot of activity that our body isn’t prepared to do. This could be anything from repetitive lifting to being a weekend warrior.  Acute injuries can happen from activities you perform on a regular basis or an activity you have never done before.

As we age, our bodies slow down. The low back experiences a lot of wear and tear over the years which may result in damage.  One form of damage that can occur is in the form of disc degeneration (the wear and tear, shrinking, and collapse of intervertebral disc).  Another is spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space around the spinal cord).

When an intervertebral disc (the shock absorbers of the spine) is damaged the result can be a stretching known as an intervertebral disc bulge or a rupturing known as an intervertebral disc herniation.

Scoliosis may also be a cause of low back pain.  Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine.  A scoliosis can cause your back to be off balance and become strained, thereby causing pain and stiffness.

Symptoms

Low back pain symptoms can vary greatly from person to person in nature, frequency and intensity and are often different depending upon the cause. Your pain may be dull or sharp. It may constant or intermittent.  It may get worse with standing, sitting, bending, or walking. Pain may even extend into your buttock or down your leg.

Symptoms can vary a lot from person to person. Getting an examination with Dr. Boroditsky is the best way to assess what treatment plan is best for you.

Treatment

Prior to starting any type of treatment, it is always advisable to first see an appropriately trained spine specialist to develop an appropriate treatment program for your specific condition and medical history.

The main goals for managing back pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) usually include:

  • Providing enough pain relief to be able to actively participate with physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Preventing further injury or stress to the spine through improved ergonomics and posture
  • Maintaining an ability to function enough at home and at work

Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatments

There are a wide variety of non-surgical options for back pain treatment of the lumbar spine. The more common treatment approaches include:

Pain medication. Typical pain medications used to treat the lower back pain include acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants. Each type of medication has strengths, limitations, and risks, and the patient’s particular problem in the lower back and overall health will determine which pain reliever, if any, is indicated.

Heat or ice. Application of a cold pack or heating pad can help relieve low back pain. Some people find that alternating between the two works best.
Manual manipulation. This treatment maybe applied by a Dr. Boroditsky! He can improve your pain by manually and gently  manipulating the vertebrae away from the nerve, reducing pressure. This will greatly improve your pain.  Manipulations also increase flexibility, improving blood flow and reducing muscle tension.
Therapeutic massage. Massage therapy is thought to improve blood flow, reducing muscle stiffness, and decrease stiffness.
Exercise. A program of back exercises and physical therapy will usually include a combination of strengthening, stretching, and low-impact aerobic exercise.
Call 763.390.1323 today to schedule an appointment, we can help with your low back pain!

How Your Feet Can Cause Leg & Back Pain

Problems with your feet can affect your entire body, from your legs to your back, your neck, and even your shoulders. The entire human body is connected, which is why one affliction can easily affect a seemingly unrelated part of the body.

Oftentimes, pain and discomfort don’t directly relate to flat feet, but rather to how they affect your gait (your stride or the way you walk). Some people have one leg that’s shorter than the other (usually because of scoliosis, an unusually curved spine); this would affect their gait and affect their feet and spine. That can affect their ribs, internal organ locations, and how their bones are structured all over their bodies.

Foot Movement

The way you walk is dependent on the shape of your feet and the shoes you wear. These factors can affect your entire body over the years. For example, if you wear unsupportive high heels every day, your feet become susceptible to hammertoes, bunions, calluses, and corns. The rest of your body may develop joint problems, back problems, stiffness, fatigue, and strain.

Wearing supportive shoes distributes weight evenly when you land and encourages a stable gait. People with flat feet often walk on the sides of their feet or have balance issues, so it’s essential to wear supportive shoes.

How Feet Affect The Legs

Your feet are connected to your legs by tendons and ligaments, some of which connect the arch of your foot to the back of your calf. Problems with your feet can affect your lower legs because of this, but the way you walk may also play a part.

The human body is pretty amazing and can be influenced or manipulated. The body has been bound and reshaped in a number of ways across cultures in history, including:

  • Binding the feet to make or keep them small.
  • Corsetry; using a corset to manipulate the body’s shape into an hourglass figure.
  • Elongating the forehead through binding, practiced most famously by the Mayans.
  • Lip stretching.

It’s a little scary because there could be a massive number of health issues that stem from things like these, but people do it anyway. Consistently wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight can cause other, less desired types of reshaping like hammertoes, claw toes, bunions, and corns, and the way a person walks can affect the way the feet, legs, and back function.

Some milder problems include:

  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Leg pain
  • Plantar fasciitis

Prolonged or continuous strain can cause permanent problems.

Foot and Back Pain

Everything is connected, which is why your feet can cause so many problems all over your body. If you have a foot deformity, you change the way you walk to avoid pain subconsciously. Have you ever noticed that if one of your toes hurts, you avoid hurting it more while you take each step by limping or walking differently on that foot? Usually this is temporary, but for someone with a foot deformity, this adjustment in gait can be permanent.

Having flat foot in particular can cause misalignment with the ankle, which causes joints to connect differently, which can cause misalignment in the knee joint. That can affect your hips, which also affects the way you walk. That affects the spine, especially your lower back. It makes sense that this could happen… our feet are actually pretty delicate and our bodies are complex.

The Easiest Solution: Orthotics (Custom Shoe Inserts)

Orthotics, or custom insoles can be customized to your feet, are affordable, and will fit into your shoes subtly. Though they won’t solve everyone’s foot pain problems, they are a great place to start for relieving foot pain, leg pain, and lower back pain caused by your feet.

Consult with a Shane Boroditsky, D.C., for  possible orthotics, which are usually custom-made. Though store-bought orthotics may work temporarily, custom orthotic inserts are built to last and customized to your feet, your specific foot problems, and your gait.

If you’d like to see whether custom orthotics are right for you, please give us a call today at Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation! 763.390.1323

Stretching

Stretching may take a back seat to your exercise routine. You may think that stretching your hamstrings and calves is just something to be done if you have a few extra minutes before or after pounding out some miles on the treadmill. The main concern is exercising, not stretching, right?Not so fast. Although studies about the benefits of stretching are mixed, stretching may help you improve your joint range of motion, which in turn may help improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury. Understand why stretching can help and how to stretch correctly.Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion in your joints. Better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion and enabling your muscles to work most effectively.

Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscle. And you may come to enjoy the ritual of stretching before or after hitting the trail, ballet floor or soccer field.

Stretching essentials

Before you plunge into stretching, make sure you do it safely and effectively. While you can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work, in a hotel room or at the park — you want to be sure to use proper technique. Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm than good.

Use these tips to keep stretching safe:

  • Don’t consider stretching a warm-up. You may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. So before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for five to 10 minutes. Or better yet, stretch after you exercise when your muscles are warmed up.Also, consider holding off on stretching before an intense activity, such as sprinting or track and field activities. Some research suggests that pre-event stretching before these types of events may actually decrease performance.Strive for symmetry. Everyone’s genetics for flexibility are a bit different, so rather than striving for that gymnast or ballet dancer degree of motion, focus on having equal flexibility side to side (especially if you have a history of a previous injury).
  • Focus on major muscle groups. When you’re stretching, focus on major muscle groups such as your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders.Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play. Make sure that you stretch both sides. For instance, if you stretch your left hamstring, be sure to stretch your right hamstring, too.
  • Don’t bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. Bouncing as you stretch can cause injury to your muscle.
  • Hold your stretch. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds; in problem areas, you may need to hold for around 60 seconds. Breathe normally as you stretch.
  • Don’t aim for pain. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching, not pain. If it hurts, you’ve pushed too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
  • Make stretches sport specific. Some evidence suggests that it’s helpful to do stretches tailored for your sport or activity. If you play soccer, for instance, you’re more vulnerable to hamstring strains. So opt for stretches that help your hamstrings.
  • Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the most benefits by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week.If you don’t stretch regularly, you risk losing any benefits that stretching offered. For instance, if stretching helped you increase your range of motion, and you stop stretching, your range of motion may decrease again.
  • Bring movement into your stretching. Gentle movement can help you be more flexible in specific movements. The gentle movements of tai chi or yoga, for instance, may be a good way to stretch.And if you’re going to perform a specific activity, such as a kick in martial arts or kicking a soccer ball, do the move slowly and at low intensity at first to get your muscles used to it. Then speed up gradually as your muscles become accustomed to the motion.

“Do I have to stretch?” is a very common question, especially when discussing exercise. It’s a good idea, says the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM recommends stretching each of the major muscle groups at least two times a week for 60 seconds per stretch. Staying flexible as you age is a priority to help keep your mobility high as discussed in this weeks previous blogs.

If you have problems with posture or activities, make it a habit to stretch those muscles regularly. If you have back pain from sitting at a desk all day, stretches that reverse that posture can help.

Simple Back Stretchstretching2

Exercise physiologist Mike Bracko recommends doing the “Standing Cat-Camel” as a work-related back stretch. Here’s how:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent slightly
  • Lean forward, placing your hands just above your knees.
  • Round your back so that your chest is closed and your shoulders are curved forward.
  • Then arch your back so that your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.
  • Repeat several times.

If your job keeps you in the same position all day, Bracko suggests doing 2-minute stretch breaks to reverse that posture at least every hour.

Strength Training

Whatever your age, strength training is an activity that provides many health benefits for both men and women. Strength training can be done by people who are in good health, as well as by those who have health concerns — such as arthritis or chronic pain.

Combined with regular aerobic exercise, doing an activity like lifting weights two or more times a week can improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

Strength training is known to reduce the symptoms of several health problems and chronic diseases, such as:

  • Arthritis, including osteoarthritis
  • Back pain and other types of pain
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis

While some of the benefits of strength training are for older men and women, it is never too early to start. The major benefits of strength training include:

  • Increased muscle strength. Without use, our muscles waste away as we age. Regular strength training can keep your muscles strong well into the post-retirement years. This can have a profound impact on your ability to function in your daily life.
  • Improved balance and reduced falls. Simple strength and balance training can improve your balance. This can reduce the risk of falling, which is a common problem for older people. Bone fractures from falls can lead to permanent disability and may even lead to death.
  • Stronger bones. Lifting weights or doing other types of resistance exercises puts stress on the bones. In response, the bones grow stronger (denser). This reduces the risk of bone fractures. Post-menopausal women, in particular, can benefit, because they lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass each year.
  • Weight control. Building muscle also increases how many calories you burn, because muscle tissue is very active. For this reason, strength training can boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improved glucose control. Millions of Americans have type-2 diabetes, a condition that involves elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Left untreated, this condition can lead to heart or kidney problems, and even blindness. Strength training reduces the risk of these conditions by improving the glucose levels in the blood.
  • Better moods and sleep. Like aerobic exercise, strength training can improve your mood, self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, regular exercise can help you sleep better. Together, these add up to a better overall quality of life.
  • Stronger heart muscle. The muscles of your arms and legs are not the only ones that benefit from strength training. Your heart will also grow stronger with exercise, which shows up as improved aerobic capacity. Even cardiac patients can benefit from doing this type of physical activity three times a week.

It is never too early or too late to start a strength training program. Adults should aim for doing this as least two days a week. The exercises should work all the major muscle groups of the body.

Strength training often involves lifting weights. But other types of resistance exercises also work well — such as using exercise bands or doing bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups or crunches.

If you are physically inactive, have an existing health condition or have concerns about your health, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Stabilization

Throughout the past few weeks, we have been discussing treatments that Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation offers for our patients. This week, we would like to discuss rehabilitation care and how we can help you get on your feet faster after an accident, or for overall rehabilitation for what you have been experiencing. Rehabilitation care is incorporated after your pain is gone, and you have reached the stabilization stage of care. In this stage, you may feel much better, but you still want to receive chiropractic care.

You may be wondering “Why would I keep going back if my pain is gone?!” Your spine has actually been misaligned for a long time and your body has now accepted that misalignment as being correct – the body, muscles and spine must be retrained! This takes time! Unless the spine and joints are retrained with adjustments and kept in the proper position for a longer period of time – your body will naturally go right back into the misaligned condition. Along with chiropractic care, the stabilization stage also includes rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation includes stretching and strengthening exercises taught by our doctor to further improve your condition and help your muscles and other tissues heal more completely. Dr. Boroditsky will teach you a variety of strengthening and stretching exercises to do at home to improve your condition. He may also suggest different exercises such as walking, swimming or biking. Dr. Boroditsky teaches each patient a rehabilitation program that is unique to them, to further help them as much as possible.

When you take the time do these exercises and stretches at home, you will notice yourself not only getting stronger, but your adjustments holding longer and more stabilization throughout your body. In the long run, this will help to prevent further injury or re-injury.

During the correction / restorative phase of your care, you will not have to receive treatment as often as you did during the first phase of care, depending on your particular circumstances.

Do not be discouraged if you have mild flare-ups in your symptoms on occasion. This is normal. Fare-ups are bound to occur during this phase because your body has not fully healed. Depending on the severity of your injury or condition and how long you have been suffering from it will determine how long this phase of care lasts.