Your Back May Not Be the Cause Of Your Back Pain!
The most recent statistics indicates that 80% of adults will suffer from low back pain at some point and time. In fact, after the common cold, low back pain is the most common reason people see a doctor. But not all lower back pain is caused by lower back problems. The body works as a kinetic chain, and dysfunction in one area of the body can cause pain in another area. As was the case with professional golfer Jose Maria Olazabal in 1996. He could not play that year because of back pain that was incorrectly diagnosed as a back problem when it was actually foot issues causing his back pain.
One of the most common areas of the body that can affect the lower back when it is in dysfunction is the lower leg, specifically the lateral gastrocnemius/soleus muscles, commonly know as the calf area. When this area becomes overactive and tight, it decreases the amount that the foot and ankle can dorsiflex, or flex upward. With this decrease in the Range of Motion (ROM) of the ankle joint, the lower back will have to compensate and create abnormal movement to make up for the loss of ROM of the ankle joint. And this is where low back pain can be caused.
To determine if you do have problems in your ankle joint and surrounding muscles, an Overhead Squat (OHS) assessment test is done. Basically, your ankle joints and feet are observed while you perform squats with your feet straight and at shoulder width and your arms raised straight above your head. During your squat, the examiner will be observing if your heals come off of the ground, or if your feet turn out or flatten, and if there is excessive forward bending or flexion at your hips during your squat. All of these areas will tell a different story and what needs to be corrected and treated to help prevent or eliminate lower back pain.
First, the muscles that are overactive and tight will need to be to be inhibited or relaxed so they then can be lengthened or stretched and relaxed so normal ROM can return. After this there will be muscles that are underactive or weak that will need to be activated and isolated and strengthened, to help balance out the areas muscles for strength. Finally, a corrective exercise will need to be initiated to strengthen the core and allow the whole area that was affected to work together and regain the proper ROM and balance to help reduce or prevent lower back pain and problems from reoccurring.
This is just one example of how a different area of the body that is not functioning properly can affect another area and create pain and dysfunction. Other areas that are observed and assessed include the knee, lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC), shoulders and upper extremity and the neck. Proper diagnosis is critical, and performing these assessment tests can help significantly in finding the real cause of your pain and stiffness.
Remember, the body works together with several different operating systems (nervous, respiratory, digestive, immune, skeletal, muscular, etc…), to function as one complete unit. And if one of these independent systems is not working properly or breaks down, it affects the body as a whole unit.
For more information about low back pain, or to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Betts at Lake Marion Chiropractic Center at 952-469-8385.
Dr. Brian Betts
DC – Doctor of Chiropractic
CES – Certified Exercise Specialist
Lake Marion Chiropractic Center
9202 202nd Street West #203
Lakeville, MN 55044
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