According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) lower back pain will affect 8 out of every 10 people at some point in their life. On top of being the leading cause of disability worldwide, lower back pain will cost Americans $50 billion dollars this year! While some cases of low back pain will go away after a couple days on its own, a majority of cases will become chronic in nature! So why do some cases go away, while others become chronic? Let take a look!
If you do any kind of research online, you will likely find the same recommendations for pain relief repeated – rest, ice, stretch, warm up better prior to activity, NSAIDs, maintain good posture, get better shoes, etc. While this may sound like sound advice, none of it really works, otherwise we wouldn’t find so many of us in pain.
Since most people start treatment of low back pain by visiting their PCP, or Primary Care Provider, they are often recommended rest and NSAIDS. After a couple weeks of inactivity, these same people often find themselves right back where they started once they get back to their daily routine. Sound familiar? So what went wrong?
The problem is that the rest and NSAIDs temporarily raised your symptom threshold, but did nothing to address the real issue. Stretching may provide temporary relief but no long term benefits. The shoes may have taken some stress off your feet, but didn’t touch the low back pain. None of the above recommendations address long term fixes!
The problem with all of this, and why your pain has become chronic, is that there was not a single, specific diagnosis made to identify the real problem initially! In my experience, most people with low back pain have some limiting range or motion in their low back, hips, or both. This limited range places extra stress on the low back, causing weakness and pain!
So how do you know if this limited range affects you and your low back pain? Fortunately, there are some at-home tests that you can do right now to find out where you’re limited and options to finally get your low back pain under control!
The first test is the Standing Toe Touch. While this may seem simple, most people with low back pain are unable to bend at the waist and touch the toes to the floor without pain or tension in the back of the knees and calves. The test should be effortless and without pain.
Knee-to-chest is the easiest way to test hip flexion. Lie flat on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you. Bring one knee up to your chest until the front of the thigh is flat with the chest. If the opposing leg raises up, pinching is felt in the front of the hip, groin, or outer leg, or the thigh falls short of the chest, the test is limited and a possible cause of low back pain.
Hip Extension is vital to the stability of your spine. To test, start in a lunge position, leaning as far forward onto one hip. Place a ruler in line with the rear leg just in front of the knee. Drop a plumb line from the front of your hip to the ruler below. Normal range should fall between 10-12 inches. Decreased range or pain with this test is a positive finding for this test.
If you or someone you know suffers from low back pain and cannot perform these very simple tests, there is a good chance they can find relief in our office. At Thrive Spine and Sport, these tests, and a few others from the Integrative Diagnosis system, are used to gain a clear picture and full diagnosis of what causing your low back pain. By obtaining a full diagnosis and applying the correct treatment, resolution for your pain is possible!
Simply fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 to get to the bottom of your pain today! Any questions can be sent to Dr. Cody at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!
***Special thanks to Ally Thompson of Heat Yoga and Dr. Carl Nottoli of Functional Spine and Sport for the photos****