The Importance Of Understanding Lower Back Anatomy

In order to explain common causes of mechanical low back pain, let’s start with a brief anatomy lesson:

Here's What You Need To Know About Lower Back Pain

Your "lumbar spine", or low back, is built up of five bones accumulated on top of each other with a shock-absorbing disc among each level. Your low back relies on tissues and ligaments for support. "Sprains" and "strains" are the outcome of these tissues being pulled too hard or too far, very similar to a rope that shreds when it is stretched beyond its natural capacity.

The term "sprain" means that the tough, durable ligaments that keep your bones together have been injured, while a "strain" indicates that your muscles or tendons that move your trunk have been partly torn. 

Causes Of Back Sprains & Strains

Most people encounter low back pain at some time in their lifetime, and 70% of these cases can connect their symptoms to sprain/strain injuries. Lumbar sprains and strains may occur from unexpected or forceful movements like a fall, twist, lift, push, pull, direct blow, or promptly straightening up from a seated, crouched, or curved position. Most regularly, sprains and strains are not the outcome of any single event, but rather from reoccurred overloading.

The spine can usually handle small isolated stressors pretty well, but repetitive difficulties lead to injury in much the same way that steadily bending a piece of copper wire will cause it to break. Examples of these stressors include bad postures, sedentary lifestyles, poor-fitting workstations, repetitive movements, improper lifting, or being overweight. 

Symptoms Of Lower Back Sprains

Indications of a sprain/strain may begin abruptly but more ordinarily develop slowly. Symptoms may range from a dull ache to surprisingly debilitating pain that grows sharper when you move. Rest may reduce your symptoms but usually leads to stiffness.

The pain is regularly concentrated in your lower back but can reach towards your hips or thighs. Be sure to tell your doctor if your pain continues beyond your knee, or if you have a deficiency in your lower extremities or a fever.

Intervertebral Discs

An extremely common diagnosis for low back pain is a herniated disc, but what exactly does that mean? Throughout our spine we have little shock absorbers that connect the individual vertebrae together.

These are called intervertebral discs. A disc is made up of a fibrous outer ring and a gel-like centre. 

When we suffer disc related injuries, the outer fibers can be damaged, and the inner gel will squeeze out. Picture it like a jelly donut. This can cause pain in the low back (or whichever region in the spine it occurs) in multiple ways.

This tissue damage may lead to an inflammatory reaction causing local pain, or in more severe cases, the disc can contact a nerve and cause radiating symptoms.

Don’t worry! In the next lesson we will discuss management strategies for these types of injuries. 

How To Strengthen Your Low Back

The low back is supported by several key muscle groups. When they’re strong and operating properly, this musculature is crucial. Yet any of these muscles can be strained and generate pain, driving your symptoms. In mild low back pain, often times you may be suffering from a strain in these muscle groups.

These muscles can be trained to help stabilize your core, protecting your low back from injury. We will discuss multiple exercises designed to strengthen these muscles, but first let’s watch the following video giving a brief overview of the anatomy. 

The Lower Back Explained

Watch this video to learn an interesting overview of what's going on in your lower back and what causes pain.

Do You Feel Like You've Got A Good Grasp Of The Lower Back And What Is Causing You Pain?

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