Our backs provide our core support as we perform our daily activities. Because of this keystone role, any number of problems throughout the body can lead to back pain.
Common Causes of Back Pain
The more typical causes of back pain are:
- Poor posture. People who sit slumped for long periods of time, such as while working at a computer, often develop back pain
- Repetitive motions strain the muscles and ligaments of the spine
- Injury from falls, sports, and auto accidents often cause back pain
- Age and degenerative changes
Imbalances elsewhere can also lead to back pain. Examples include abdominal muscle weakness, pelvic imbalances, one leg shorter than the other, one shoulder more restricted, asymmetrical gait, and more. Of course, problems can also arise in the back itself, such as herniated discs, arthritis, degenerative changes, and inflammation. When a patient is experiencing these problems, they should seek back pain treatment immediately.
A Disc Problem May Not Be The Cause of Your Pain
Herniated discs found on imaging are often blamed for back pain. However, recent studies show that most pain-free individuals have some disc problems on imaging. This suggests that disc disease may be an incidental finding on imaging and not responsible for your pain. This is why some studies show that nearly 1 in 4 patients still experience back pain after having a herniated disc removed. For more information, see You Don’t Have a ‘Bad Back’.
The Sacroiliac Joint and Back Pain
Another common cause of “low back pain” is the sacroiliac joint (SI joint). Problems at the SI joint often lead to pain in the low back and buttock region. SI joint problems may even strain a muscle known as the piriformis. Because this muscle is in close proximity to your sciatic nerve, a strain can cause “sciatica” symptoms. When this occurs, it is often called “piriformis syndrome.” SI joint problems require a different treatment approach than lumbar spine issues. A musculoskeletal specialist will be able to evaluate you to determine what is causing your back pain and the best way to move forward with treatment.
OMT and Back Pain
Back pain is one of the best-researched conditions improved with osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). It has been shown to be as effective, if not more, as traditional treatment strategies such as long-term therapy, medications, and surgery. But compared to medications and surgery, OMT is a low-risk approach. Consider an evaluation by an osteopathic musculoskeletal specialist to see if OMT is an appropriate place to start your back pain treatment.