Only the common cold is more prevalent than lower back pain. Over 80% of American adults over the age of 30 will suffer at least 1 episode of significant low back pain.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
Mild low back pain is often caused by minor strains, chronic poor posture and spinal misalignment.
Moderate pain in the low back may stem from more strenuous strains from work or sports, long standing poor posture and spinal misalignment, early arthritis and early degenerative disc disease.
Severe back pain comes from traumatic injuries such as car accidents, high velocity sports injuries, more advanced arthritis and disc degeneration, disc bulges, disc herniation and spinal stenosis.
Sciatica is pain down a leg due to inflammation of the sciatic nerve; a large bundle of nerves that starts from the last few vertebrae and runs down to supply the entire leg and foot with nerve impulses. It can be a mild tingling or burning sensation all the way to a severe burning, shooting, electric like pain. It can accompany lower back pain or it can be a stand alone condition. The sciatic nerve becomes inflamed or irritated due to stretching injuries, muscle spasm in the deep buttocks muscles (Piriformis Syndrome), spinal arthritis causing narrowing of the spinal cord space (stenosis) or a bulging or herniated disc.
Diagnosing lower back pain and sciatica
The most common method is a physical examination checking for reflexes, sensation, muscle strength, range of motion and special maneuvers to stress the back muscles, discs and nerves.
Imaging such as plain x-rays can be useful to check for arthritic changes in the bones and joints. The space between the bones can determine if discs have begun to degenerate and shrink allowing nerves to be compromised. Because x-rays only show hard bony tissue, another test may be needed to show soft tissues like the discs and nerves. The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test is a non radiation imaging test that can visualize discs and nerves very clearly to detect problems.
Merging exam findings and imaging studies will allow your doctor to arrive at a diagnosis, which then will dictate what treatment options are available.
For mild low back pain, chiropractic spinal manipulation, therapy modalities and exercise have proven to be the most effective treatment. Relatively inexpensive and quick, this approach can rid you of mild to even moderate back pain and get you back to your usual activities. How long it takes depends on how long you’ve had it and your lifestyle. If you sit in an office all day and do no exercise, yours may take longer than more active people. Generally 2-12 treatments can take care of mild and mild to moderate pain. A home exercise program can then prevent recurrences later.
Moderate to severe lower back and leg pain are usually due to disc problems. A course of conservative care outlined above may be able to reduce or eliminate the pain. If it doesn’t then a more aggressive non-surgical treatment may be helpful. Spinal disc decompression using a specialized machine (DRX9000) can hep recondition your discs and reduce bulges and herniations to get them away from sensitive nerves. A series of 20-30 sessions can be very successful at relieving pain from disc bulges, herniations and spinal stenosis. Occasional touch up treatments may be needed to maintain proper disc health and prevent return of the pain. Home exercises are definitely recommended following DRX9000 treatment for stability. This treatment has prevented many people from requiring spinal surgery which can be dangerous and ineffective.
More invasive procedures like epidural steroid injections should be attempted only after conservative chiropractic care and spinal decompression have failed to bring resolution. And of course spinal disc surgery should always be considered the last option .
Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Treatments in Orange County
Dr Barry Marks is a chiropractor with over 30 years experience and post-doctorate specialty training in orthopedics, spinal trauma and MRI interpretation. Dr Marks is a former Associate Clinical Professor at a leading chiropractic college and has lectured on disc disorders and authored a book on low back pain, “Cure for Lower Back Pain.” Dr Marks provides a range of treatments from conservative chiropractic and physiotherapy to DRX9000 spinal decompression.
Low Back Pain Treatment in Orange and Newport Beach Call (714) 938-0575
1745 W Orangewood Ave #114, Orange, CA 92868
3300 Irvine Ave #307, Newport Beach, CA 92660
FREE BACK PAIN SEVERITY EVALUATION
(Valued at $250)
Low back and leg orthopedic neurologic examination
Range of Motion test
X-ray and MRI review