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A Pain in the Back

Around four out of five people have lower back pain at some point in their lives. It's one of the most common reasons people visit healthcare providers. As a Physical Therapist, I have treated hundreds of patients suffering from low back pain with a fairly high success rate. I follow a mix of evidence based treatment and years of clinical experience to determine the best approach for treating each patients individualized back pain.

So what are some conditions that may cause low back pain (LBP)? There are many different factors affecting LBP. Typically to best understand LBP, we need to be able to classify the different types. There is mechanical, non-mechanical and referred LBP. It can also be a symptom of an underlying condition such as cancer. It can be acute onset or chronic in nature, it may also persist a long time after injury has resolved.

  • Osteoarthritis is typically referred to as degeneration in the spine. This can occur with the disc (DDD-degenerative disc disease) or the joint (DJD-degenerative joint disease) and causes a narrowing of the disc or joint due to time/wear and tear. Problems arise with bone on bone and a lack of shock absorbers.

  • Disc issues can include a degenerative disc, bulging disc, herniated disc and thinning disc. This may put pressure on the spinal nerves (radiculopathy).

  • Spondylolisthesis refers to the slippage of a vertebral body forward in relation to the vertebral body below it.

  • Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal

  • Muscular spasm is most commonly due to an event, activity or overuse. Pain from an eccentric use causes microtrauma which stimulates nocioceptors which trigger the sensation of pain.