Low Back Pain from Running

Many runners present to our office saying that running has been causing them lower back pain recently. This is not an unusual thing to occur. Due to the anatomy of the lower back, running may greatly increase the burden the bones and joints of the lumbar spine and hip have to carry.

Many people already know that when running the amount of weight, or force, transmitted up the legs from the feet each time the foot hits the ground is a multiple of the person’s actual body weight. If a 200 lb. individual is running, each time one foot hits the ground because of the force of gravity and momentum that single foot will absorb more than 200 lb’s of force, and all that force must travel up the leg (the kinetic chain) and into the lower back and spine as it is dissipated. Running, therefore, puts a lot of force into the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it may cause pain or health problems if their are imbalances in the body that cause this force to be asymmetrically transmitted, or if the back or legs or already weakened by injury and are unable to dissipate the forces adequately.

Sometimes this pain in the lower back is actually pain from the sacroiliac joints. These joints can be felt as two bony bumps at the bottom of your lower back, and at the top of your butt area. Many people complain of “low pack pain” and then point to these joints. Hip misalignments or imbalances in how force is transmitted upwards can cause pain at these joints. Because they are MAJOR weight-bearing joints and they are the main joints connecting the legs to the rest of the body, they are susceptible to misalignments knows as subluxations, and they often refer pain into the lower back or the buttocks.

Other times the pain is actually located in the low back, either in the muscles or in the joints. Muscular pain will likely be to the side of the spine bones, either on one side or both, and may be relieved with some heat or stretching. The question that must be answered is: what is causing the muscle problem?

  • Is it a lack of proper hydration causing cramping and spasm?
  • Is it a strain from lack of stretching beforehand?
  • Is it a strain due to bony misalignments at the points where the muscle originates or attaches?
  • Is it a muscle spasm caused by nerve irritation?
To properly resolve the muscle problem, the cause must be identified.
Many times, the issue is with the joints of the lower back, such as the discs or the facet joints. If this is a disc issue, you are likely experiencing increased pain with things like:
  • Bending over
  • Bending over with trunk rotation
  • Sitting, and getting up from being seated
  • Each time the foot hits the ground as you run
If it is a suspected disc problem, it is recommended that you consult a chiropractor (like me, hint hint!) and see if you can resolve the disc pain without drugs or surgery. If chiropractic is not sufficient, then consult an orthopedist and see if you are a candidate for surgery. BUT do not go straight to the orthopedist because you should begin with less-invasive options that are reversible, and you should NOT begin with highly-invasive and irreversible options.
The facet joints are often hard to pinpoint as the cause of the lower back pain. They may cause increased discomfort with:
  • Standing tall, or leaning backwards
  • Running downhill
  • Standing tall and rotating your trunk
Facet joints issues are typically simple to treat with chiropractic adjustments. The joints must be mobilized to ensure that there is no pressure on the adjacent spinal nerves. Postural advice or exercises would likely be beneficial.
If you think you may be experiencing some of these problems, call out office today at (301) 378-0334 and you can come in for a free, no-pressure consultation. The doctor will take a look at your issue, ask some questions, do some good listening, and let you know if we can help. Until then, run safely and drink plenty of water to make sure it isn’t an issue of dehydration causing muscle strain.

MDs Admit Low Confidence In Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Complaints in Children

No one in the medical or chiropractic community should be surprised to learn that MD’s have low confidence in their own abilities to properly diagnose musculoskeletal complaints in children.

Let’s look at the educational background of an MD (medical doctor) vs. that of a DC (doctor of chiropractic). I am not making this comparison to say one is better than the other – in fact that would be incorrect. I simply want to point out that MD’s are well-trained in knowing which pills to prescribe and chiropractors are well-trained to recognize and address problems in the muscles, joints, and nervous system. Due to that obvious difference in training and education, MD’s aren’t very adept at diagnosing musculoskeletal complaints and chiropractors are very good at making those diagnoses.

Hours spent on anatomy and diagnose of musculoskeletal courses in Medical and Chiropractic school:
Anatomy/physiology – Chiropractic: 456; Medical: 215.
Physiology – Chiropractic: 243; Medical: 174.
Diagnosis – Chiropractic: 408; Medical: 113.
Orthopedics – Chiropractic: 168; Medical: 2.

Full Original Article Here:  MDs Admit Low Confidence In Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Complaints in Children

References Here:
1. http://www.chiro.org/ChiroZine/ABSTRACTS/Low_Confidence.shtml
2. http://www.chiro.org/pediatrics/ABSTRACTS/Safety_and_Effectiveness_of_Pediatric_Chiropractic.shtml
3. http://www.chiro.org/ChiroZine/End_Medical_Mis-Management_of_Musculoskeletal_Complaints.shtml

Hurt Your Back Snow Shoveling?

Snow shoveling is bad for your back because it involves bending over and twisting from side to side. This can cause injury to the joints and discs of the back. If you’ve hurt yourself shoveling out of that Frederick snow then head over to Park Bench Chiropractic and we will get you back out there and feeling better.

Low back injuries, especially those involving the discs, become more difficult to treat the longer you wait. At now and save yourself some pain later on down the road.

The Cycle of Injury to Joints

Why joint injuries need to be addressed in order to make sure they don’t become chronic.

When you injure a joint (for example, common places to injure a joint include your spine, your shoulder, hip, knee, wrist, elbow, or ankle) there is also damage to the ligaments that help that joint function properly. Before I explain what exactly ligaments do, let’s quickly go over some terminology:

Joints – this is a place where two bones meet and they can move in relation to each other.

Muscles – these go from one bone to another bone, and when a muscle contracts it brings the two bones closer together.

Tendons – muscles attach to bones with tendons. As the muscle nears the bone it transitions into tendon, which physically attaches the muscle to the bone.

Ligaments – ligaments go from one bone to another bone, but they do not have the ability to stretch like muscles and tendons. They are used to reinforce a joint, to prevent motion in certain directions, and to guide movement in the correct direction.

So, when a joint is injured there is a good chance that the ligaments that hold it together were also injured. To illustrate this, when you sprain your ankle, the actual injury is to the ligaments of the ankle joint. When there is a sprain it is an injury to a ligament.

That injury to the ligament always initiates a process beginning with two things: joint instability and proprioceptive deficit.

1.       Joint instability – as explained above, the ligaments guide and limit the movement of the joint, and without stable ligaments you will not have a stable joint.

2.       Proprioceptive deficit – this is a fancy way of saying that your nervous system will have a decreased ability to monitor and control the movement and position of that joint and the bones that the joint includes.

a.       This proprioceptive deficit then causes decreased neuromuscular control. That means that your body has a decreased ability to properly control your muscles. It is called decreased “neuromuscular” control because the nervous system deficit means that the brain and body aren’t properly communicating and that perfect control of your muscles you usually have is lost. Your brain and the nerves in your joint just can’t get the messages across with 100% accuracy if there is an injury to the joint.

Now, all the issues I mentioned above lead to a common result: functional instability. An unstable joint and a decrease in nervous system control over that joint will combine to cause a loss of functional stability. Functional stability is the overall stability of your body or your body part as it does what it is supposed to do. Using the example of the ankle again, functional stability would show itself as trouble with walking correctly, putting more weight on one foot, or tip-toeing around to avoid pain. These are all changes in how the joint is functioning due to the injury.

We are talking about a cycle, and this is the important part. If you are getting by with an injured joint, but it is not healed correctly, then you are forcing your brain and body to utilize coping strategies like limping or leaning (or avoiding activity altogether). All these strategies are meant to help you avoid re-injuring the joint, but they all predispose the joint to re-injury quite often.  After all, using a joint or a body part incorrectly is a good way to injure it in a new way or just plain exacerbate the existing injury. As a chiropractor I quite often have patients who describe things like severely injuring a disc in their back because they were trying to shovel snow without standing up straight all the way…because they already had back pain to begin with!

So, now we have an injured joint become a repeat injury. Once you re-injure the joint it is typically more difficult to resolve and get back to 100% pre-injury status. You can see this entire process I just described in the picture below:

Cycle of Injury to a Spinal Joint

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So, why is a chiropractor talking about this? Because chiropractors manipulate joints. At Park Bench Chiropractic we work on all the joints in your arms and legs as well as adjusting spines. By locating and correcting vertebral subluxations we help your entire body function better. When we find problems in how other joints are working, such as wrists, ankles, and jaws, we will manipulate those areas as needed. Call our office at (01) 378-0334 to schedule an examination or consultation with Dr. Matt or Dr. Rob in our friendly Frederick office.