Lower Back Pain is the most common condition we see patients for. Up to 80% of all people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their life. It is even the #1 cause of disability. Research shows that most lower back pain is called ‘ Non-Specific Lower Back Pain’, meaning, the cause is unknown. That is why it is so important to take care of it early, or in the acute phase, before it becomes chronic lower back pain. Most patients are shocked to find out CHRONIC back pain means it has been there or 3 months or greater.

The reason back pain is so common is that it is the area of our spine that takes pressure and is worked in all motions and activities we do. This can cause fatigue in the muscles, add to much pressure to our discs resulting in stiffness, pain, sciatica, or worse yet, complete limitations from the things we want to do, need to do, and love to do.

If your pain came on slowly and ‘ out of no where’ it is often associated with repetitive daily strain due to improper bending, postural issues, or things that cause you to bend frequently. This is where the muscles tense up causing a chronic ‘ stiffness ‘ resulting in the joints not moving properly and restrictions in movement and the ability to do the activities you want to do, need to do and love to do.

Other common causes for lower back pain are disc issues. The most common thing we see is when patients bend over to pick up something small, or dry off their feet after a shower and feel intense pain. This is often due to a disc condition. Disc conditions can be from simple bulges causing deep muscle aching and tension or full disc herniations resulting in nerve problems, shooting pain, loss of strength, and difficulty in your daily life.

The most important thing a patient can do is get it diagnosed quickly and find out the true cause of their lower back pain. Due to how common it is, and the multiple reasons you can have back pain, you need to know how to take care of the one back you have. Here is how we treat lower back pain in Portland, ME.

Comprehensive Examination for Low Back Pain In Portland, ME

The consultation and examination are all focused on you, the patient, and finding the root cause of your pain. We start by getting to know you as a person and how your lower back pain is impacting life. We then get an in-depth knowledge of your health history, the stressors of life, and what in your life is affected due to having neck pain.

We then perform a complete comprehensive exam using our M.A.P.S. approach. Through specific testing of your nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems to determine where there are issues with Movement, Alignment (posture), Pain (stiffness), and Strength of the lower back. We can then answer the questions every patient has: What’s wrong? How can We help? How long will it take to get better?

Specific Chiropractic Care for Low Back Pain in Portland, ME

With the root cause of your condition known, we can begin specific treatments to alleviate your back pain.

Our Chiropractic adjustments focus on restoring proper Movement, Alignment, and relieving lower back pain. These specific movements are designed to be comfortable, gentle, and targeted directly at the root cause of your pain.

The lower back has many moving parts, and when they are not moving it can cause irritation to the nerves, muscles, and joint movement. That is what chiropractic does. Through Manipulation it restores proper muscle and joint movement to allow the brain and the nerves to work properly.

Many patients are nervous for their first adjustment but are pleasantly surprised that it is pain free, provides instant relief, and you walk out feeling much better.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan

With the spine adjusted and muscles relaxed, we then teach patients how to care for their own back. The most common cause for lower back problems is core weakness / imbalances and compensation due to hip tightness. Is your core strong? Do you have good flexibility in the hip and spine?

We use a system that teaches the foundations for a healthy back starting with proper posture, stretching, and finishing with building strength in the core to stabilize the lower back and prevent further problems from occurring. Our goal is to get you out of pain fast, keep you that way and teach you what you can do every day to stay feeling great.

With patients teaming up by stretching and strengthening our corrective exercise programs do not just help you feel better temporarily, you get long lasting relief.

Spinal Decompression in Portland, ME

A specific tool that we utilize in our practice is Spinal Decompression. This treatment focuses on specific treatment to the disc and any arthritis of the lower back.

The disc is the ‘shock absorber’ of your spine and sits right next to the nerves that control your entire lower body. When the disc has a condition such as a herniation or disc bulge, the nerves get irritated resulting in pain in the back and legs, numbness and tingling, or even complete limitation of life.

Chiropractic adjustments help to alleviate pain and exercises help to strengthen the core to protect the discs, but discs need a different treatment to heal properly. The only way a disc can heal is through taking pressure off the spine and slowly additing it back on, like squishing a sponge and releasing it to absorb water, to treat a disc we have to stretch the spine to heal the disc. Spinal decompression is the only thing that targets specific discs to allow for healing at a deep level. With true healing of your disc, you can then strengthen the core to restore proper movement to the spine and prevent further irritation to the disc resulting in not just feeling better, but staying better.

VIDEO: The MOST Important Treatment For Lumbar Disc Problems

Common Causes of Low Back Pain in Portland, ME

Bulged Lumbar Discs

The lumbar disc is the cushion between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. You have 24 vertebrae in total with a cushion in between called the disc. Behind the disc and vertebrae is the spine and nerves that control everything you do, movement you have, etc.

Over time, discs can sustain irritation and injuries just like the rest of our body. This can cause the discs to wear down and get dehydrated over time. This can result in several things occurring, one of which is a disc bulge. This is where the disc (cushion) actually begins to flatten out ( like a marshmellow being squished between two graham crackers in a S’Mores) resulting in pressure on the nerves that run right next to it. This results in lower back pain that can radiate to the hip, thigh or even down the leg to the ankle. The most common place for this to occur is between the Lumbar vertebrae in the lower back.

Herniated Lumbar Discs

Similar to a bulging disc, when the discs wear down, dry out, or break down over time the disc can be injured further. In a bulging disc, a flattening out occurs and irritates the nerves that run next to it. A more severe case of this is a herniated disc. This is when the disc, being so injured, actually sticks out and starts to cut off the nerves ability to control the sensations of the foot, reflexes, or even the muscles of the lower back. Many patients describe an acute disc hernation as a feeling of a sharp pain with the inability to move afterwards.

The result of a disc hernation can be the feeling of being ‘ stabbed ‘ with sharp pain in the back, severe inflammation and pain in the lower back, loss of sensation in the foot, and loss of muscle control.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Some patients experience a slow breakdown of the disc where the disc flattens, dries up, and loses the ability to cusion between the joints and vertebrae in the spine. Often time we see this is an age related condition when discs break down. Several lifestyle choices such as obesity, smoking and work that is hard on the spine can contribute result in a slow breakdown of the spine over time.
When the disc flattens, this shrinks the space between the vertebrae resulting in less room for the nerves to pass by. This also increases pressure on the joints to absorb the forces of life when the disc can no longer sufficiently do it. That is why we almost always see a osteoarthritis, or ‘arthritis’ of the joints in the same area complicating things further and causing more back pain.
This condition can not be reversed, but it can be slowed from progressing utilizing chiropractic, exercises, and spinal decompression.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)

One of the areas that absorbs the most force / pressure in the lower back is called the Saroiliac Joint. This is the connection between the spine and the hips. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction accounts for 15-30% of low back pain cases. Pelvic dysfunction can occur due to multiple reasons with some of the most common being pregnancy, falls, repetitive stress through bending over and through prolonged crossing legs while seated. These various challenges that life puts on our Sacroiliac Joint results in either moving too much (Hypermobility causing instability) or moving too little ( Hypomobility causing restrictions).

The most common thing we hear from patients is they feel ‘ off ‘ or their legs feel uneven. This is because when the Sacroiliac Joints have dysfunction, both spinal movement and hip movement is affected. It is very common to see this accompanied with lower back pain, hip pain and knee pain due to the importance of the joint and the muscles that compensate when the Sacroiliac Joint is not moving properly.

Facet Joint Dysfunction

The Facet Joints, or joints of the spine, are where each vertebrae meet. The spine has 24 moveable vertebrae that connect to the skull (occiput) and to the pelvis (sacrum). Each Spinal Vetebrae has 4 joints in total meaning your spine has 100 joints. As chiropractors, or job is to ensure every joint is moving properly. When even one of these vertebrae are not moving correctly, the brain will tighten the muscles surrounding that joint and limit proper movement. As we age, limitations in the facet joint result in early degenerative changes if not taken care off.

Patients with facet joint dysfunction often report they can not move fully in a range of motion due to a ‘pinching feeling’. Even worse is when the cartilage (cushion) between facet joints becomes inflamed and irritated. This results in complete limitation of movement, pain, and a ‘locking’ feeling.
Cartilage inside the facet joint can break down and become inflamed.

Chiropractors receive specific training over their education to detect where the spine is not moving properly, to feel for these facet joints and to release the pain and discomfort you are feeling through manipulation. With our expertise, we ensure that each of the 100 joints in your spine are moving properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I be worried about lower back pain?

Pain isn’t something you should just ‘live with’. If your in pain get evaluated immediately to start the healing process quickly and to ensure complete healing.

What can I do to relieve my lower back pain in Portland, ME?

The best thing you can do is move! Doing this with as little of pain as possible is important too though. Even if it is a 3 minute walk, simple stretches, or easy exercises, anything that has you moving and doesn’t cause the pain to worsen is good.

How do I know if my back pain is serious?

If your back pain is taking you away from any of your day to day activities or not allowing you to do what you love, it is serious enough to get an evaluation.

What causes lower back pain?

There are several causes for back pain. Common ones that we see in the clinic are: Chronic poor biomechanics (moving improper), Prolonged positions (sitting, driving, etc.), Strain of the muscles, Disc conditions, and obesity.

How should I sleep with lower back pain?

The best way to sleep is on your back. With lower back pain, placing a pillow underneath your knees can alleviate some pressure. If you are a side sleeper, placing a pillow between your legs can be helpful as well. Sleeping on your stomach typically causes increased lower back pain in patients.

How do I tell if lower back pain is muscle or disc?

Muscle pain is different than disc pain. You can press on it and feels ‘ tight ‘ often when moving. Disc pain is not able to be pressed on and frequently occurs with pain shooting into the hips and legs.

How does a slipped disc feel?

A disc does not slip. However, it can bulge or herniate. This is when there is too much compression on the disc (cushion between the bones in the spine) and the center part of the disc (nucleus pulposus) bulges or herniates and presses on nerves.

Why won’t my lower back pain go away?

Pain can stay for many reasons. It is always due to an unaddressed condition. When injury happens our body naturally compensates for the damage. This creates poor movement and instability of the spine. To get rid of the pain, the body needs proper movement and strength to fully repair.

Can a Chiropractor in Portland, ME help with lower back pain?

Absolutely! Chiropractors treat lower back pain everyday with great success. Many research studies find it is the best way to treat lower back pain. When combined with rehabilitation our patients get great results!

What is better for lower back pain chiropractor or massage?

HealthCare is a choice a patient has and the decision is up to you! As chiropractors we do work with massage therapists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Accupuncturists to help our patients heal. At BodyBack Chiropractic and Physiotherapy we focus on muscles, chiropractic, and rehabilitation.

When should I see a Chiropractor in Portland, ME for lower back pain?

Treating lower back conditions are most important during the healing process. If your pain is not getting better after 1 week. We recommend that you get care. Especially if your symptoms are affecting your life.

How can you tell if your spine is out of alignment?

The first sign of your body out of alignment is ‘ feeling off’. This is often followed by tight muscles that won’t go away with stretching and sometimes, pain. Many patients report that when their body is out of alignment they also have decreased energy, less motivation to move, and have a general feeling of body not feeling well. Through chiropractic adjustments we help you feel good and move good.