Have you suffered a lower back injury? If so, I’m sure you wish you’d followed conventional wisdom, such as lifting with your knees and not your back. While you can’t go back in time and change how you did things before the injury, you can help your back to heal – and prevent further injuries – by understanding the cause of your condition and taking steps to avoid it as you go forward.
According to WebMD, there are many common causes of lower back pain. The list below is a sampling:
1. Injuring or overusing specific joints, ligaments, and muscles
2. Putting pressure on nerve roots located within the spinal canal
This situation can be prompted by many conditions:
a. A herniated disc, which is often caused by repeated motion or vibration or by increased pressure or a sudden heavy strain on the lower back.
b. Osteoarthritis, which is often caused by the aging process. When osteoarthritis occurs in the spine’s small joints, back pain can result.
c. Spondylolisthesis, a somewhat rare defect that can lead to vertebrae to slide over one another.
d. Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal normally associated with the aging process.
e. Force-related fractures of the vertebrae caused by direct blows to the spine, compression of the spine caused by falling on the head or buttocks, or an automobile or bicycle accident.
f. Spinal deformities that affect the curvature of the spine, such as kyphosis or scoliosis.
3. Compression fractures
This situation is common among two groups of people:
1. Post-menopausal women who have osteoporosis (Even sneezing can cause enough force on the spine to prompt a compression fracture.)
2. Men or women who have endured long-term corticosteroid use.
Among the less common spinal conditions that can lead to lower back pain are ankylosing spondylitis, bacterial infections, and spinal tumors. (Of course, I’m not encouraging you to use the above-listed conditions in order to perform a self-diagnosis; such references are never meant to replace a diagnosis by a trained medical professional. For those living or working within the Washington, D.C. area who are suffering from lower back pain, we recommend seeking help from physical therapist guru Dan Baumstark of PhysioDC.com.)
Rehab programs designed to help alleviate back pain rely heavily on the causal condition that has led to the problems. Without considering the causes of the pain you’ve been experiencing, the therapy you receive could end up doing more damage, instead of promoting healing.
Regardless of your situation, any fitness program should start with placing your body in a spinal neutral position, which is defined as the range at which you feel no pain. Why is this important? You need to listen to your body, and pain is how your body communicates to you.
Now, you also need to learn to distinguish between muscular soreness and actual pain. The kind of pain you want to avoid can be described as a stabbing sensation that radiates down your leg or buttocks. If such pathological pain persists, you should consult a medical professional before proceeding with a fitness program.
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