Low back pain is a common occurrence that most people have had experience with at one point in their life or another. Pain in the lumbar region can range from mild and irritating to extremely intense. Symptoms, as well, can be a slight dull ache to a sharp shooting sensation. If the low back pain is acute it generally comes on suddenly, such as after heavy lifting or from an injury. The low back pain is considered chronic when it lasts for more than three months.
Some (but not all) of the common causes of low back pain are:
- Muscle strain caused by heavy lifting or strenuous exercise
- Postural problems, such as sitting at a desk improperly or even slouching on the couch watching television
- Herniated, bulging or weakened discs
- Work related lifting or pulling that repetitively twists the spine
- Carrying uneven weight, such as a backpack or purse
- Overextended muscles, such as from playing golf, horseback riding, playing tennis or playing softball/baseball
- Medical conditions, such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space around the spinal cord), spondylitis (inflammation of the spinal joints), or fibromyalgia.
- Being overweight, especially where the is an unequal distribution of weight
- Myofascial trigger points
There is reason to believe that trigger points are the root cause of many spinal problems because of the muscle tension they maintain. Muscle tension displaces vertebrae and causes compression of nerves and disks. When investigating back pain, trigger points should be at the top of the list, because pain that comes from trigger points is usually self-treatable (Travell and Simons 1999, 804-809), or can be treated with massage.
Research recently spotlighted in NIH: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states:
Massage therapy helped reduce pain and improve function more rapidly than usual medical care in people with chronic low-back pain, according to researchers at Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle, the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and the University of Vermont in Burlington.