Should You See A Chiropractor for Back Pain? And What Causes Back Pain?

Should You See A Chiropractor for Back Pain? And What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain is incredibly common and most people experience it at some time. In fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. Not all back pain feels the same and the type of pain that is felt depends on the cause. Some people experience dull throbbing aches while others have sharp pain, and others yet have constant pain that worsens with exercise or sitting for long periods of time.

The back is a complicated structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles but there are 3 main causes of back pain. In this video, we’re breaking down those 3 main causes and how we identify each of them.

What Causes Back Pain?

There are many different types of back pain but there are 3 main causes that we can trace back to different parts of the back.

1. Discogenic Back Pain

This type of back pain is caused when the discs between the vertebrae are damaged. These discs may bulge, tear, herniate, and even extrude and irritate the nearby nerves. About 40% of all chronic spine pain is related to a problem in one or more intervertebral discs. Discogenic pain can occur with disc degeneration but not every case of disc degeneration causes pain.

Discogenic pain occurs most often in middle-aged and elderly people. If we do see this kind of back pain in younger people it’s typically due to disc degeneration. Many people who have sciatica are experiencing this unique type of back pain because of a herniated disc in the lower back. When a herniated disc puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, pain, burning, tingling, and numbness that radiates from the hip to the foot can occur.

Discogenic back pain is associated with activities that increase the pressure within the intervertebral disc like bending forward, sitting, sneezing, and coughing. When we examine a patient experiencing discogenic pain they almost always feel pain when bending forward.

Once we know that a patient is experiencing discogenic back pain, we create a custom plan for them that focuses on preventing the herniation from worsening, providing pain relief, and strengthening the muscles around the spine to help prevent disc herniation from reoccurring in the future.

2. Joint-Related Back Pain

This type of back pain occurs when joints in the spine, otherwise known as facet joints or zygapophysial joints, become restricted, adhesed, or degenerated. Each vertebra in the spine has two sets of facet joints to provide support and mobility. Like all joints, these facet joints have cartilage that can become worn and thin preventing normal motion. As the bone attempts to adjust to having less support than normal, bone spurs can grow and inflammation can occur as osteoarthritis develops in the facet joints. The bone spurs that may grow to try to compensate for lost cartilage can pinch nerves and cause back pain.

Much like disc degeneration, facet joint degeneration can be painless for a long period of time. When pain does occur, it’s usually a dull ache that occurs low in the back as well as in the neck, shoulders, and back of the skull. This type of pain radiates which means it spreads outwards from the source. When we see a patient with joint-related back pain they typically feel pain when they bend backward or back and to the side.

Changes in the facet joints can result in disc degeneration as more and more pressure is put onto the discs to make up for the support the cartilage previously provided.  These changes are natural as we age and the cartilage that supports the facet joints begins to break down. We typically see this type of back pain in people over the age of 40 and it affects both men and women. This type of back pain is common in people who are prone to arthritis, have had a previous spinal injury, or are overweight.

When we have a patient who is dealing with joint-related pain, our goal is to relieve the pain and help support the joint through deep tissue work and exercises that help strengthen the surrounding muscles. Using correct posture is one of the most important things you can do to keep your spine aligned and prevent future issues. If you’re sitting for long periods of time, it’s important to make sure that you’re sitting correctly so you’re not doing further damage to your spine.

3. Muscle-Related Back Pain

This type of back pain occurs when discs and joints send signals to muscles to tighten to protect the weakened area. You may also hear this type of pain referred to as myalgia pain. This type of pain can also occur from strain, overuse, and poor posture. We see back muscle strains occur as a result of lifting excessive amounts of weight, not lifting correctly, sitting with poor posture, or repetitive motions like swinging a golf club. We also see this kind of back pain in patients who have been in a car accident.

If your back pain is muscle-related, you’ll have pain that is localized to one area and does not radiate to other areas of your body. Your back may feel tender or even spasm. You’ll likely feel stiff as your muscles tense up to try to protect the affected area. This kind of pain can come on suddenly and it usually feels better when you rest the affected muscles.

With muscle-related back pain, we usually find that twisting or bending to the side causes the pain to worsen. When we have a patient who is dealing with muscle-related back pain, our goal is to relieve the pain and relax the muscles to prevent further pain. Chiropractors have many different methods we can use to accomplish this including dry needling, class 4 laser therapy, deep tissue work, and e-stim.

There are of course red flags that aren’t related to the spine that can cause back pain but they are much rarer than these 3 types of pain. Kidney issues, cancer, and other types of non-spinal problems can cause back pain but they are very rare and don’t present well on exams.


Should You See A Chiropractor For Back Pain?

If you are experiencing back pain, it’s more than likely due to one of the 3 causes of back pain that we’ve covered in this post. The great news about all 3 of these types of back pain is that they’re all treatable and you can get relief from the pain you’re feeling. The answer to “should you see a chiropractor for back pain” is yes if you’re sick and tired of dealing with the pain. We can help you start feeling better faster!

Back pain is one of the most common issues we see in our office and we’d be happy to create a custom treatment plan for you that will relieve your pain, strengthen your body, and help prevent future issues. If you’re suffering from back pain of any kind click here to make an appointment with one of our chiropractors or call us at (410) 296-7700!

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Kalkstein Chiropractic
200 East Joppa Road #300
Towson, MD 21286
(410) 296-7700