The five vertebrae in the lumbar region of the lower back are the largest and strongest in the spinal column. However, because the weight of the whole upper body rests upon the lower back, lumbar pain and stiffness is the single most common problem of the muscular and skeletal system, accounting for more sick days than nearly any other medical condition. During their life, 80% of people will experience lumbar pain at some point, and many will be plagued by it for a large portion of their adulthood.
Due to the frequent occurrence of lower back pain and its effect on the quality of life, chiropractors have developed considerable skill and experience in dealing with it. Since lumbar pain can be caused by several conditions, having a knowledgeable chiropractor is particularly important in order to choose the correct form of treatment and help to prevent recurrence.
The majority of lower back pain is due to muscle and ligament strains and sprains of non-specific origin, usually through a combination of overuse, overloading (carrying or lifting heavy objects), poor posture and lack of exercise. Non-specific back pain is benign in that it is not caused by a structural problem in the spine, but can still be immensely painful and disabling for the time it takes the muscles to heal.
Other causes of lower back pain may be more serious and longer-lasting. These include:
Scoliosis – improper curvature of the spine.
Facet syndrome – inflammation of the spinal facet joints. Facet joints protect the spine from excessive movement and can be damaged by sudden movement, leading to pain and stiffness. Spinal osteoarthritis (spondylosis) is an extreme case of facet syndrome caused by age-related degeneration of the facet joints.
Herniated (slipped) discs – trauma or overloading may cause damage to the discs of cartilage between adjacent spinal vertebrae. As a result, the soft inner part of the disc may bulge through the fibrous outer covering, usually leading to much pain and inflammation.
Sacroiliac syndrome – inflammation in either the sacrum or iliac bones of the pelvis, causing acute lower back pain. Inflammation may be caused by either too little movement (hypomobility) or too much movement (hypermobility) in the sacroiliac joint. Hypomobility is usually the result of joint degeneration, whereas hypermobility occurs when the ligaments become overstretched and loose.
Pregnancy – lower back pain is common in pregnancy due the extra load placed on the spine.
Some causes of lower back pain will resolve themselves within a week or two, but can be helped along by a qualified chiropractor. Even minor damage to the spine and related muscles can leave a weakness in the affected area and put you at risk of the pain returning.
More serious lumbar conditions are also known to respond well to chiropractic manipulation and treatment, and provide a good alternative to either long-term use of pain-killers or invasive surgery. In addition to treating your condition, chiropractors can offer a great deal of advice regarding exercise and lifestyle choices in order to keep your back as healthy as possible and prevent the distress of ongoing and recurrent injury.
Lumbar back support products are designed to help prevent neck and back pain, which can lead to pain in other parts of the body as well. Many of these products are pillows or cushions that offer additional support when you are seated for long periods of time.
The lumbar region of the spine is usually referred to as the lower back. It is the area just above your tailbone and below the thoracic (middle back) region. The lumbar area includes your spine and all the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding your spine. If your ligaments are pulled or torn, you will experience a lumbar sprain or strain, which can lead to muscle spasms and significant pain in your lower back.
What can cause lumbar sprains and strains? Poor posture, poor lifting technique, obesity, and other health-related factors can contribute. In fact, sitting for long periods without lumbar support can itself aggravate lumbar pain. Finally, one of the greatest contributors to back pain is using the wrong type of chair for your body. Surfaces that are too hard or too soft do not encourage proper posture and do not provide adequate support for your back.
Usually all that is required to relieve lower back pain is sufficient rest, but most of us are unable to rest for long enough to overcome lumbar problems. So preventing these problems with a good lumbar support is essential, especially if you spend significant amounts of time sitting down.
The first step to choosing the right lumbar support is to ensure that it fits perfectly in the chair you spend the most time in. An even better option is to choose an ergonomically designed chair that includes a built-in lumbar support, or an individual lumbar support that is specifically designed to be used with your chair. “One size fits all” lumbar support products rarely provide any benefits and should be avoided.
Make sure you test the product in the store before you buy it. If you can, sit with the lumbar support for at least 15 minutes to see if it feels good or aggravates back pain. The best lumbar supports are adjustable, so you can fit it to the chair’s height. Ergonomic chairs with lumbar supports included usually allow you to adjust the height and width of the support. Adjustable separate supports are particularly useful if you use more than one chair throughout the day.