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Beating Lower Back Pain

By Kate Gardner 

I recently checked in on a friend recovering from surgery to ease the horrible back problems. About three months prior she had sneezed at precisely the wrong angle, causing her lower back to erupt into pain. Surgery showed her sneeze had caused a severely herniated disc. 

Many of us are like this friend, gritting our teeth through lower back pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80 percent of us will experience back pain in our lifetime. Lower back pain counts as the leading cause of disability and is the third most common reason people visit the doctor (behind skin and joint issues). It causes numerous missed work days and can keep us from doing the things we enjoy.  

Lower Back Pain Causes

Oftentimes, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what made your back start to hurt. There are numerous causes of lower back pain, but outlines the most common. 

  • Strains - Strains of the lower back can happen quickly (like when you're moving heavy furniture) or build up over time. Treat muscle strains with rest, home care, and physical therapy. 

  • Disc Injury - Our spine has little fluid-filled discs between each vertebra. Injuries can cause these discs to herniate (bulge out), compressing nerves and causing pain and numbness. 

  • Sciatica - Sciatica happens when a disc herniates and compresses the sciatic nerve. This type of injury also often causes pain in the legs. 

  • Spinal stenosis - Sometimes the discs between each vertebra can breakdown, causing a narrowing of the spinal column. This narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves causing pain, numbness, and weakness that can be felt in any part of the body. 

  • Spine curvatures - If your spine doesn't curve normally (such as in kyphosis, lordosis, and scoliosis), you may have lower back pain. In these conditions, the abnormal curvature puts extra pressure on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. 

Healthy Back, Happy You

While it may be impossible to protect yourself against all the possible causes of lower back pain, there are things you can do to minimize things like strain and injury to your back. Exercising to strengthen back muscles helps protect them from injury and helps support all the structures of your lower back. tells us that the best exercises for the lower back provide plenty of support. These include movements performed while lying on your back, such as crunches, hamstring stretches, and alternating knees-to-chest to stretch and strengthen muscles. They also recommend the wall-sit to help build strength while protecting the lower back. Avoid exercises that place a greater strain on the lower back, such as toe-touches, leg lifts, and sit-ups. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Valencia, Calif. 

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