A majority of people in the U.S. suffer from lower back pain at one point or another. In 2010, the CDC found that within 3 months of their study, 28% of people over the age of 18 experienced low back pain. As society becomes more technologically advanced, an increased sitting, and decreased exercise led to an increased prevalence of lower back pain. What you may not know is that the types of lower back pain each feel completely different and often occur in different areas of the low back. Today, we discuss the different types of low back pain and what you should know about each.
In this series of blogs, we will first go over how each of these conditions feel and which area in your low back the pain is presented. The next three blogs will be about how to care for these conditions on your own. Keep in mind that medical testing is the ultimate way to diagnose your condition. Postural analysis, MRIs, and X-rays provide you with the most accurate assessment of what is really going on in your body.
What Are the Types of Lower Back Pain?
The Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ), the lumbar discs, and the quadratus lumborum muscle are the primary culprits of lower back pain.
Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) Pain
There are numerous joints in the lower back, but the Sacroiliac joint is usually the one that gets “locked” up. This can cause a sharp twinge or stabbing pain on either side of the lower back. The SIJ is located on the right and left sides of the sacrum (the top of your butt crack!). The SIJ usually hurts when you move and change positions.
In our office, we have patients recreate this pain by bending backward to touch their toes. In this instance, a few chiropractic adjustments can help relieve this pain (the next blog will cover the stretches and exercises necessary to help prevent it from coming back).
Lower Back Disc Injuries
Numerous injuries can happen to the lumbar vertebral discs and the surrounding vertebrae, but the pain you experience from these different types of disc pain is often similar. Disc pain often presents as a sharp, achy pain in the center of the back at the spine. We describe it as “a knife being dug into a wound and left there,” and many patients agree!
The major telltale sign that you are experiencing disc pain is if you have referred or traveling pain that shoots down into your buttocks, leg, and foot. This is called Sciatica and it usually only affects one side of the body; however, if your injury is severe enough, it can be present in both legs. Often, touching your toes or curling into a ball makes this low back pain exponentially worse and can increase Sciatica. If you have a severe back injury, bending backward can increase the pain and send it shooting down the leg.
The Quadratus Lumborum Muscle
This type of lower back pain is dull, achy, and often hurts with prolonged sitting or standing. The QL muscle is often overlooked and we have a whole three-part series written about it! We have detailed QL background information, QL stretching and mobility exercises, and QL strengthening exercises, all pertaining to the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle.
if you suffer from low back pain or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email us at Info@CaliSpine.com.