“Yesterday I bent over to pick up an empty laundry basket and I must have turned the wrong way. Well I heard a “pop” and I didn’t think anything of it but today I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed it hurt so bad.”
This is an example of one of the most common reasons a patient comes to me as a Chiropractor.
Was it really the empty laundry basket that caused this patient not to be able to get out of bed the next day or was that a warning sign that something else is going on with his body.
When you are trying to figure out what is actually causing your lower back pain you need to ask yourself the following questions, the answers to these questions will help you find and fix the root cause of your back pain and not just use a band-aid approach to address the immediate pain and hope that it doesn’t return.
“Does my pain come and go?”
Basically there are five different things that can cause physical pain and symptoms in the human body. These five things are:
- ligaments or tendons,
- nerves or
The key to fixing the root cause is identifying which of these five things isn’t working right.
Of course more than one of these things may be involved, but which domino was the first to fall in the chain?
If the pain is constant or there all the time, it isn’t a nerve related problem. Because think about it, if it was a muscle pain, like you worked out too hard at the gym, you would have for example lactic acid buildup in the muscles, and it would be there constantly for a few days and then go away. Similarly for a tendon strain or bone fracture it would be there constantly for a few weeks and then resolve. About two weeks for a tendon strain and six to eight weeks to heal a bone fracture.
But symptoms that come and go, and aren’t always there but then come back again are ALWAYS related to nerves.
What about organ issues?
Lower back pain can be a symptom of a serious organ problem. Most organ dysfunction issues are of long term duration, but the warning signs show up much earlier.
For example a person who has a colon condition didn’t start out his life with a colostomy bag. It’s a problem that develops over time. He may have suffered from constipation decades before, which he attributed to his poor diet and not drinking enough water. Then due to his chronic constipation he begins to experience hemorrhoids (bleeding from the rectum when he has a bowel movement). Oh sure initially he doesn’t get it EVERY time he has a bowel movement. But as the years go by it occurs more and more, several times per week. Then eventually it happens every time he moves his bowels. He goes to his doctor and has a colonoscopy (a camera to look around inside his colon), they find polyps (pockets inside the colon which shouldn’t be there). He has them surgically removed but that doesn’t address the root cause, it only cuts out the symptom and the underlying condition persists.
Some years later he has a follow up colonoscopy and they find many more polyps and now his colon has become twisted inside, so they decide it’s too risky and remove that portion of his colon and give him a colostomy bag. And this is how it goes.
Remember, his initial symptoms were NOT constant.
They came and went, and then got more frequent and then they became more severe and constant. The body always gives warnings signs of problems brewing under the hood of the car.
Another question you should ask yourself is have I ever had lower back pain before?
The answer may be “yes”, but not the same kind of pain.
In the case of our patient who bent down to pick up the empty laundry basket. He described having tight, muscles in his lower back which were always tense and he was never able to relax those muscles, even with massages. The tightness returning shortly after the massage. He described having this for at least five years ongoing before the laundry basket incident, tightness not pain.
So even though it wasn’t the same sensation, it WAS in the same area. But if he experienced this tension for at least five years, it means he had that problem for at least that long and now it has gotten worse.
The Back controls the Front
If you have lower back pain that comes and goes and isn’t always there. it is related to pinched nerves. Every single nerve that exits the spine controls a separate body part AND vital organ. Vital meaning you need it to live. Consider the spine to be like the Interstate of the body. You have exits off the interstate which take you to different places in your town. Same is true for the spinal nerves, every nerve once it exits the spine will travel to a limb and a vital organ, each one.
So in the case of the colon dysfunction patient, years before any of his colon symptoms he suffered from knee problems. He thought it was because he was a runner for years. He would walk down stairs and have to hold onto the railing because every once in a while his knee would just “give out” on him. He eventually had knee surgery for a torn meniscus and thought his problem was solved.
Had he known that the same nerve that controlled the knees in fact was the same spinal nerve that controlled his colon he may have been able to avert a more serious condition from progressing.
Lower Back nerves control sex organs, bladder and colon.
So ask yourself if you have lower back pain if you have had reoccurring issues with any of the organs which are located in front of the low back. This could include reoccurring bladder infections, uterine fibroids, prostate or erectile dysfunction, hemorrhoids etc…
Because the same exact nerve that controls each of these organs controls a separate body part I will give you the connections here.
The same spinal nerve that controls the hip controls the sex organs. Early symptoms of this would include painful intercourse in certain positions, stiffness or inflexibility and tightening of one hip compared to the other hip. Difficulty getting up out of a chair or car after a long car ride.
The same spinal nerve that controls the feet controls the bladder. Early symptoms would include plantar fasciitis, pain in the bottoms of the feet or heel pain, weak ankles, bunions or hammer toe.
And as previously mentioned the same spinal nerve that controls the knees controls the colon. Early symptoms include water on the knee, knee joint pain, knees giving out.
Think of it as branches of a tree. The tree trunk is the spinal cord, each branch of the tree is a spinal nerve root and each leaf on that branch is either a body part OR vital organ.
If you break a branch off that tree the leaves on that branch eventually die. The ones furthest on that branch die first, this would be the body part. Eventually the leaves closest to the break on the branch die last, this would be the vital organ.
Because of the way the body is designed pressure on the spinal nerve will initially affect the BODY PART first. Then years later when the compression is worse eventually the organ which is controlled by that very same spinal nerve will start to act up and result in problems with the vital organ attached to that same exit off the highway.
Many people are unaware of these connections and so they commonly ignore reoccurring aches and pains in hopes that it will just “go away”. Because it went away on its own the last time. This is true, but it didn’t go away, it just lays dormant until the next reoccurrence. Like any other condition early detection is key. Think of the spine as the fuse box of the body. You wouldn’t put up with a burnt out fuse because it could affect multiple areas of your home. No one says “well the fuse will just fix itself”. They replace the fuse.
Unfortunately you cannot replace your spine. Spinal transplants have not been invented yet. You can move out of your house but moving out of your body isn’t an option.
In some cases it may be an isolated incident, perhaps the nerve is trapped under a muscle close by and it isn’t related to the spine at all. But you wouldn’t know it unless you got it checked out.