Chronic Lower Back Pain

Chronic lower back pain is pain that has been present for more than 12 weeks. Most low back pain will abate by itself in about 2 to 4 weeks. However, the more recurrent the pain, or episodic in nature, the more likely to develop chronicity.

Other factors that appear to have an effect on chronicity of pain are obesity, deconditioning, sedentary lifestyle or occupation, cigarette smoking and prior work loss due to lower back pain.

What Causes Chronic Back Pain

The actual cause of your chronic lower back pain is most likely not the direct result of the above factors. It is more likely that the persistent pain is the result of the body reacting to chronic muscular stress. This stress may be due to pelvic and spinal imbalances, joint fixations, the presence of trigger points, abnormal posture or muscular weakness.

Chronic Back Pain

One possible explanation for chronic pain, in the absence of disease, is the inherent ability of a nerve to become hypersensitive to excess stimuli. Thereby it will be less resistant and more likely to fire its pain signals with little or no need. In other words, the pain nerve fibers have a lower threshold to stimulus or are hypersensitive and this enables it to be stimulated more readily.

The nervous system has essentially developed a learned response, or memory, which allows it to be stimulated easily due to a lower threshold. This makes it more apt to repeat its behavior. Which in this case is expressing pain.

If a nerve is less resistant to stimulation it has a greater propensity to be stimulated even if there is no need for it to do so. What ensues is a chronic pain pattern.

What this does is create a nerve pathway for pain signals from a nerve(s) that relays the message of pain to have less resistance to stimuli and therefore enabling it to send pain signals more readily.

The nerve, in a sense, has developed a learned response allowing that nerve to be stimulated due to a lower threshold.

I like to compare this to a hair trigger on an automatic weapon. If the trigger has normal tension it will take more effort to squeeze and will be less likely to fire easily and rapidly.

However, if you lighten the tension or resistance on the trigger then with the lightest touch it will fire and continue to fire successive rounds.

Blame Those Nerves

So what develops is a pain pattern or a pain response due to nerves that have less resistance to stimuli and therefore a greater propensity to nerve stimulation (pain)

When a nerve fiber(s) responds to stimuli it does so with an all or nothing action. A nerve fiber does not respond in degrees of strength. The strength of the pain is the result of the number of fibers being stimulated to their threshold level. The more nerve fibers exceeding the threshold the greater the pain. 

A minor injury may elicit a severe pain response such as hitting one's thumb. Whereas, a severe injury or disease, such as a severe laceration or cancer, may exhibit no pain initially. Only after enough pain fibers have been impacted and exceed their threshold will pain become an issue.

All pain of unknown origin should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

The primary cause of chronic lower back pain is due to one or more of the following:

Who Gets Chronic Back Pain

Chronic low back pain can affect male or female, young or old, white collar or blue-collar worker, athlete or spectator.  It does not discriminate who its victim is.

With chronic lower back pain, one may experience right low back pain, left low back pain or pain across the lower back in general. It has no predominant location. However, the pain will usually be felt more predominantly on one side or the other.

It can be constant pain or intermittent.

Standing, sitting, resting, or being active can either lessen the pain or aggravate it. However, most chronic lower back pain is aggravated by being stationary (sitting, standing) and relieved by activity. If this is your pain pattern then your chronic pain is most likely due to trigger points.

Chronic Back Pain Therapy

Treatment for chronic lower back pain, such as drugs, chiropractic adjustments, massage, rest, or exercise may or may not afford you significant or lasting relief. What can be said is that any relief will be most likely temporary or short-lived and the pain eventually returns.

Chronic back pain treatment needs to address the cause(diagnosis) and not just the symptom(pain). Back pain remedies used in an attempt to reduce pain and not correct any and all causative or contributing factors will fail.

If your approach has been to suppress symptoms (pain) and not correct the underlying cause, any and all methods applied in an attempt to find relief will most always be fruitless and frustrating. This will only make you a drug or chiropractic addict.

The cause or reason for your chronic back pain symptoms must be identified, treated and eliminated or sadly you will spend your life and money being a victim of ineffective and unsuccessful pain management.

Below are a few initial chronic back pain remedy steps you can take:

  1. Identify and correct any and all structural deficits such as flat feet, over-pronation, short leg or pelvic tilt.
  2. Seek the services of a competent chiropractor for of pelvic and spinal misalignments, joint fixations and for professional advice.
  3. Identify, treat and eliminate trigger points that are causing chronic muscle pain, muscle weakness and spasms.
  4. Improve your overall physical condition or fitness by engaging in regular strength, endurance and flexibility exercises/training.
  5. Do not become obsessed with pain that is not due to a treatable disease or of a severe nature. Most pain is not debilitating. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, facet joint arthritis or degenerative disc disease you can expect bouts of lower back pain. When these bouts occur seek chiropractic care early on to prevent chronic pain patterns from developing and trigger points from becoming activated.
  6. Last but certainly not the least...walk...walk...WALK!

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