OCT 06, 2016

How many of you know that feeling? That dull ache in your back and not the kind that comes from working out… it’s the kind that comes from sitting too long at your office chair for the past how many days straight. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Sitting is killing us, and making us achy and sore. There are multiple different causes of low back pain. Pulled or stiff muscles, a vertebrae out of alignment, sarcoiliac joints that aren’t moving like they should (that’s the part of your back where your hips meet your sacrum) can all cause back pain. Even wearing heels on a regular basis and then switching to flats can cause a flare up of back pain. And, there are many treatments for those issues that can help get you back on your feet without having to take an advil or ibuprofen with your morning coffee. That being said, the one cause of back pain that I see most often in my patients isn’t muscular, and it isn’t bone – it’s usually nerve pain.

“The most common cause of undiagnosed back pain isn’t due to muscles or bones; it’s usually due to nerves.”

This particular type of nerve pain tends to start at your low back and then stretches across your hips. Sometimes that ache can even start to travel down your legs. What’s happening is that a particular nerve called the superficial cluneal nerve is being stretched and inflamed. One of the most common causes of this is sitting, and the reason is that this nerve gets stretched when we’re sitting for long periods of time day after day. When this nerve, or any nerve, becomes stretched it becomes inflamed, which causes the nerve to increase in size.

The issue with this particular area of the body is that these nerves run through a type of tunnel between muscles. And, unfortunately, these tunnels don’t increase in size when the nerves do. That means that the nerve that’s already getting inflamed is now sending pain signals up to your brain because it’s rubbing against those tunnel walls every minute of the day. Talk about a vicious cycle.

So what do we do about it? Here are 4 easy steps to help ease the pain in your back.

1. Walk it off
Every 45 minutes get up and take a walk. Go get some water, take a lap around your office floor (bonus points if you can get outside for a walk around the block). Walk for at least 4 minutes, then go back to what you’re doing.

2. Build up your core
Core strengthening exercises take stabilization work off of your low back. Strengthening your core through planks helps take the pressure off our low backs and can help reduce the chances that we arch our back throughout the day stretching those cluneal nerves even more.

3. Reduce your overall inflammation
Diet can play a huge role in our body’s inflammatory load, as well as how quickly we can heal injuries. Getting enough fats and proteins, as well as nutrient packed colourful vegetables is integral to this process. And the donut we’re eating to keep our energy up in the afternoon? It’s making that back pain worse because it’s adding to our inflammation.

4. Know when to ask for help
Nagging back pain is not something that you have to live with. I use a variety of techniques, including acupuncture, injection therapies and diet changes to make sure your nerves not only stop sending pain signals but also actually get repaired.

Just because it might not be life threatening doesn’t mean we can’t get rid of it (and that morning Advil) for good.


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