Mechanical Low Back Pain
Mechanical low back pain is back pain that is not caused by a disease condition but rather wear and tear or injury to the soft tissues of the spine.
The spine is literally the backbone of our body, and its unique curvature gives us our unique ability to stand and walk upright, compared to other primates. The human spine also allows us the ability to perform a variety of movements, including bending, stooping, squatting, twisting, turning, and flexing our body forwards. The spine houses and protects the most valuable the valuable extension of our brain - the spinal cord. The unique shape and structure of our spine allows to stand and walk in the erect position that is unique to us humans, and it also poses some mechanical challenges to the spine that are also unique to us.
Because of the curvature of our back and the upright position of our spine, the lumbar (bottom) area of our spine absorbs a lot of the body's weight and pressures. The amount of weight and energy that our lumbar spine must absorb as we sit stand, walk, and pick up heavy objects takes a toll on the spine, sometimes causing us to have back pain or straining the soft tissues in and around the spine. The lumbar spine has to absorb a lot of weight and energy even under the best of conditions. Under less than ideal conditions, such as when we smoke, drink, become obese, or use bad posture, the soft tissues of the back may come under more strain than usual. This extra strain may cause various problems that cause us to have lower back pain.
Due to a variety of possible causes, a section at the level of the lumbar spine may become irritated, stressed, abused, injured, used improperly, deteriorated, or even diseased. The nerves in the body are so numerous that nearly ever tissue in the body is near one. These nerves may sense the deterioration, injury or other type of changes in the soft tissue of the spine and send a signal to the brain that something is wrong there. We experience pain as a result of this signal to the brain.
Pain is a symptom of disease. Some lifestyle behaviors and diseases that affect the spine and cause mechanical low back pain cause involve injuries or degenerative changes to the spine that can be reversed, and some changes that can't. Nevertheless, the symptom of pain can be reversed, even in patient cases where the degenerative changes to soft tissues can be reversed or cured. How is that possible. One of the major reasons that degenerative conditions, such as facet joint arthritis and herniated discs, cause pain is because to the instability of the entire structure that occurs as a result. Degenerated discs may cause the spine to become partially pulled out of its ideal position in a condition known as a vertebral subluxation. A subluxation is a partial dislocation of a joint. This partial dislocation at the level of the spine where the disc herniated may cause added strain the facet joints and spinal ligaments in that area. The straining of these facet joints and ligaments may cause mechanical low back pain. A herniated disc is just one example of what could happen to our spine to cause us to have pain or discomfort in our back.
Since degenerative diseases such as degenerative disc disease and loosening of the spinal ligaments often involve irreversible damage to the affected structure, then how can we possibly get better? While degenerative changes to the soft tissues cause instability of the joint, certain treatments may help to re-stabilize that joint. Back exercises that strengthen the muscles supporting that joint may provide the stability it needs to help the patient experience back pain relief. Effective back exercises include pelvic tilt, double knee stretch, and prayer stretch. There are many other types of back pain treatments that are used to strengthen muscles, restore muscle imbalances, and other cause of mechanical low back pain.
Read on to learn more about how the spine functions.