Injuries of the lower back remain the most debilitating and costly conditions in our society, affecting the lifestyle of thousands of Australians. The most common back injuries affect the lower-back region or what is anatomically known as the lumbar spine.
The Lumbar Spine
A healthy normal spine has an inward curve or ‘lordosis’ in the lumbar area. When the natural curve is present the spinal joints are packed tightly together, making the lumbar area stable and thereby allowing the deep muscles of the back to adequately support the spine.
Between each vertebra (bones) are discs, which are large cartilage-type structures. These discs are soft and they compress, giving the back its ability to bend in various directions. Discs act as shock absorbers and cushion the stresses that transfer to this area when we:
Back Injuries – How They Happen
When we bend, the vertebrae spread apart, putting uneven stresses on some parts of the disc. During lifting, the weight of the object further increases the pressure on the discs. Under such stress the discs can rupture and the surrounding soft tissues can tear.
A ruptured disc like any injured body part, will produce swelling. This swelling may put pressure on a nerve that originates in the spinal cord, resulting in leg pain (often called sciatica). Sustained compression of the nerve can cause permanent nerve damage. It is important to treat back pain and sciatica as soon as possible to get the best outcome.
Back Problems – Age-Related
As we age, our discs become less flexible and reduced in height. Hence, there is less protection of the bone structures as the space between the bones reduces. This results in our spine getting stiff more easily and keeping it flexible requires more effort. So staying active as we age is important.
Ruptured discs can also be called:
- prolapsed discs
- herniated discs
- protruded discs
- slipped discs
- degenerated discs
- black discs
The commonly used term ‘slipped disc’ is misleading, as the whole disc can never slip, slide, or be out of place. Find out more about the spine – medical terminology.
Gordon Physiotherapy Sports and Spinal Aids for Back Pain
These products are available from us to help you settle your back pain:
- McKenzie Lumbar Rolls
- McKenzie Travel Rolls
- McKenzie Night Rolls
- McKenzie Book ‘Treat your own Back’
- Posture Wedges
- Heat Packs
- Sports and Dynamic Tape