Low back pain can be caused by a multitude of issues, which can make it really frustrating for the person with the pain. Along with that, many people don’t know who to go to when they have low back pain. Do I go to a chiropractor? Do I go to my doctor or an orthopedic specialist? Maybe I just need a massage? This confusion around who can help is an added frustration to the actual back pain.
First, it's important to look at the primary recommendations of where to start with low back pain; imaging, rest, medication. The downfall of imaging, rest and medicine is that they actually aren’t helpful in figuring out what is causing the pain and how to resolve it. Imaging just shows a static picture of your spine which can be helpful but mainly if you are considering surgery. The interesting thing about imaging is that research is showing that people who don’t have back pain also can show positive signs on an MRI or x-ray. So we are learning that sometimes imaging actually leads people down the wrong track. As for rest, this can help temporarily but doesn’t address what is causing the pain and sometimes can make people stiffen up more and cause more pain further down the road. Medication just addresses the symptoms and doesn’t help with the source of it.
So where do you turn? The next step is often a massage (or buying a foam roller or massage gun) if you feel like your problem is a "tight muscle" or going to get an adjustments (trying to adjust yourself) if you feel like there's something "out" or that "needs to pop." Although these can help both options if done in isolation fail to get to the root of the "why?"
What we're talking about are “foundational movements” and are the primary things we look for on day 1 to give us more information on why you hurt not just where you hurt. This means looking at gait, squat, lunging, balance, single leg squats, and sometimes looking at a specific activity like running or rowing depending on who we are working with. Just looking at these movements can show us some patterns in the way that people are moving. This gives us a full picture of how the body is moving as a whole rather than just looking at the back. And the reason we look at these specific movements is because they are common movements that are a part of everyday life. So if you are moving in a way that is irritating to your back in a foundational movement, that needs to be addressed in order to get back to feeling all the way better.
So if you are dealing with back pain and aren’t sure where to turn, consider the things discussed in this post. Or if you have tried many things for your back but seem to keep needing more treatment and the pain never full goes away, maybe take a closer look at the things you have been trying and see if you might have any missing pieces. To really take care of back pain all the way, you need to have the symptoms addressed, but you also need to be sure you are moving well. That will be a much more sustainable way of addressing your back pain.
As always, we are here to help. Reach out to ask more questions or to schedule a phone call or in person consult!