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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Zorn

Lower Back Pain: Two Common Culprits

Updated: Jun 3

Are you tired of that nagging low back pain? The kind that lingers like an unwelcome guest, disrupting your daily routine and stealing your peace of mind? Are you searching for pain relief for lower back pain? If so, you are not alone. 

  • Six million Americans suffer from lower back pain regularly, 

  • Lower back pain is a silent epidemic that affects 80% of Americans at some point in their lives

  • Back pain treatment costs a staggering 50 billion dollars annually

However, there's good news: Chiropractic care offers a natural, effective solution. 

In this article, we will discuss:

  • 2 common causes of lower back pain chiropractors treat

  • Common mistakes patients make when they have lower back pain

  • The best ways to prevent lower back pain. 


1. Posture & Poor Mechanics

One common cause of lower back pain is sprains and strains. Improper lumbar spine mechanics or poor posture can lead to joint sprains or muscle strains. This type of injury can result in 'spasms' that limit motion and decrease activity levels.

Our chiropractic office has many patients who work strenuous jobs, such as steel workers, mechanics, and truck drivers. These jobs can cause repetitive strain on the lower back, which can cause back injuries over time.

As much as we see this scenario happening with labor-intensive jobs, we also see patients who work at a desk all day. Extensive sitting or standing in one position stresses the spine's structure, which can cause tightness and pain across the low back. 

Trauma, a sudden fall, or an awkward stumble has also led many patients to our office.

Imagine lifting a heavy box or twisting to grab something from your car. Suddenly, a sharp pain shoots through your lower back. Simple trauma like this can lead to a painful lower back strain, turning simple movements into a struggle. 

Understanding how such injuries occur and how to treat them is crucial for recovery and preventing future episodes. Fortunately, our office has seen thousands of cases like these over the last decade. Practical strategies and treatments are available to help you get back on your feet and back to living without the constant ache.

When you hurt your lower back, especially straining the muscles, getting treatment quickly is important. The sooner treatment can begin, the less chance of the injury becoming chronic. 

Man sitting at desk with poor posture

2. “Pinched Nerve” 

Nerve compression, also known as "pinched nerve" or "sciatica," is a common cause of lower back pain. However, it is often misunderstood and oversimplified. 

Often, patients will say they have a “pinched nerve,” which is a highly general term for nerve compression. Just like a virus or an infection, doctors prescribe different treatments depending on the type of virus. Treating a cold is not the same as treating shingles. We must address what type of nerve compression is occurring.

So, what is causing the nerve compression? 

Uncovering the cause of nerve compression is essential for proper treatment. Nerve compression can occur when a bone applies pressure to a nerve, such as when a patient has a bone spur or joint degeneration. This can put pressure on the nerve and cause numbness or tingling. 

Spondylolisthesis, a condition where the vertebrae slip out of place, can also cause a pinched nerve. This type of nerve compression can happen gradually over time or with trauma, such as a sports injury or auto accident.

A disc injury can also cause pinched nerves. When the disc in the lumbar spine bulges or ruptures, it can irritate the nerve and cause the same numbness, tingling, and pain symptoms. These symptoms can vary depending on the location and severity of the nerve compression. Still, they often include sharp or burning pain, numbness or tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected area. 

Lastly, muscle tightness can cause compression of a nerve. Whether this is caused by swelling or tightness, nerves pass through various muscles in the back and pelvis, causing symptoms that radiate down the leg or back. These injuries can gradually worsen and cause severe lower back pain, limiting daily activity. 

More often than not, the underlying cause of a “pinched nerve” must be identified, which can be tricky to decipher since the symptoms can look the same. This is why it is important to have an experienced professional examine the complaint before treatment can begin. 


Common Mistakes with Lower Back Pain

If you are reading this, you have likely dealt with back pain before. Most patients typically try to alleviate their lower back pain at home. Here are a few mistakes we’ve seen over the last 12 years and 40,000+ visits. 

The heat is on. One way back pain can be aggravated after injury is with the heating pad. When heat is applied to the lower back, it increases the blood supply to the tissue. This may seem great and feels great initially, but over time, the increase in swelling that will occur from the increased blood flow could increase acute pain and prolong patient recovery time. So, it can be best to limit the use of heat with these acute injuries and exacerbations. 

Stretch until something breaks. Another common mistake we see in the office is stretching. Don’t get me wrong; I stretch daily, and it can be a great way to improve flexibility and mobility before and after activity. However, maybe you shoveled the snow or just planted 1000 flowers, and your back hurts. Each occurrence of back pay needs a particular type of treatment. Remember those disc injuries we discussed earlier? Bending over can aggravate those lower back discs if they are the underlying cause of the lower back pain. 



So, you are having lower back pain or had lower back pain previously and no longer want to deal with that debilitating pain ever again. In that case, you can do a few things to limit the recurrence of back pain.

  1. Exercise Regularly: This doesn't mean hopping off the couch and running to cross-fit classes, but you should aim to move every day. Try different types of exercise, including weights, cardio, core, and mobility/stretching. Changing the type of exercise will often challenge you with multiple movements and keep you engaged and energized by not having to "pick things up and put them down" every day at the gym. 

  2. Lift Properly: Always use your legs to lift heavy objects, not your back. Keep the object close to your body, bend your knees, and avoid twisting your torso while lifting. Proper mechanics reduce the risk of sudden back strain and injury.

  3. Ergonomic Adjustments: Make sure your work and home environments are ergonomically friendly. Use chairs with proper lumbar support, position your computer screen at eye level, and take regular breaks to stand and stretch if you sit for long periods.


In the end…

Lower back pain has many causes, and no two injuries are exactly alike. Over the years, we have seen many ways that patients can set themselves back with mistakes they make at home. 

So, before reaching for that heating pad, call us the next time your lower back hurts. Don't let pain control your life any longer—let us help you find relief and get back to living pain-free!


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