| Why am I having low back pain? |
There are many possible reasons for low back pain, but spinal strain and postural fatigue account for about 70% of cases not caused by more serious disc or organic conditions. For example, lifting a heavy object improperly, or falling, may cause immediate back pain. Other reasons may not be so apparent and may take a long time to develop into a painful condition (such as leg length inequality, poor sleeping, standing, or sitting posture). Health professionals are frequently confronted with a group of injuries known as ‘chronic lower back pain’ These conditions involve spinal muscles, ligaments, joint capsules, discs, and fascia. Whatever the cause, low back pain affects 80% of adults at some time in their lives, and nobody likes to put up with it.
Fortunately, a lot of the time, there is a perfectly logical explanation for chronic lower back pain.
The skeleton is simply trying to provide solid structural support.
For the body to function effectively, it needs to off-load a great deal of the ground reaction forces evenly throughout the bones (which are by far the hardest structures in the body), by doing this, it reduces the stress on softer (more fragile) structures.
A prime example of the skeleton (therefore body) not acting accordingly, is in the case of a leg length inequality.
You see, if we think about the skeleton by itself for a moment (assume no muscle involvement), and imagine one leg 1cm shorter than the other, the skeleton would no doubt be unstable. That is, it would have a tilt and be become unstable in the pelvis – off setting the spine and therefore centre of gravity etc.
Now, the reality is, we do have muscles, and the last thing our body wants to do is fall over. Therefore, our body has to deal with this structural ‘imbalance’ by compensating. These compensations lead to certain aspects of the lower back, pelvis and spine acting unevenly/asymmetrically (e.g. bend or curvature). This obviously places a stress on one side of the structure more than the other, often leading to a slip or impingement – bingo! We have back pain.
Now, before we go jumping to conclusions, it is important to note that this isn’t the only cause of back pain, which is precisely why you may benefit from a consultation with a health professional.
However, should this be a possible cause of your lower back pain, the good news is your chronic pain may be a thing of the past.
| |What can my Sports Medicine Podiatrist do to help me? Depending on the results of the examination and diagnosis, a basic Sports Med management plan for low back pain emphasizes a return to normal function.
Your sports Medicine Podiatrist can give you a thorough biomechanical examination with video gait analysis (visit biomechanical examination here).
The objective is to capture your function and assess for symmetry or asymmetry as the case may be.
From here, an accurate treatment plan is put in place - which may include exercises encouraging symmetry, and possibly leg length equalisers or custom orthotics to account for any differences.
| |How would Custom Orthotics and better foot function help my back? Your feet are the foundation of your body, and if your feet are not properly supported, you can have problems anywhere from your ankles on up through your neck.
Orthotic therapy is sometimes essential in restoring structural and functional balance and developing the strength and flexibility to keep your body stable as you stand, walk, or run.
Think of using accurately prescribed orthotics as a shim beneath the leg of a wobbly table: it adds support to eliminate unwanted motion in the entire structure.
Depending on a variety of factors (biomechanical examination, lifestyle, health, age, weight etc), your Sports Medicine Podiatrist will select the orthotics best suited for you.