Many patients who develop nonspecific back pain without pain in the arms or legs are given various diagnoses. “Back strain” or “strain-sprain” injury to the low back (lumbar), mid back (thoracic) or neck (cervical) area are examples of these. These conditions involve injury or inflammation of the muscles and ligaments resulting in pain, stiffness and muscle spasm. Symptoms may come on after strenuous activity or a sudden movement, however often the exact cause is difficult to determine.
In my professional experience, one of the most common misconceptions about back pain is that it is primarily due to muscle problems. This is understandable as muscle pain and tightness is almost always present with back pain. However, due to the complex interrelation of muscles, ligaments and spinal joints there is almost always a joint component to any episode of back or neck pain. For this reason, a multi-faceted treatment approach is recommended. The primary focus of chiropractic treatment involves manipulation to correct joint dysfunction. Trigger point therapy, heat or ice may be helpful in reducing muscular spasm and inflammation. Exercises for back strength and flexibility will help recovery and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. This approach has yielded superior results over the years. (See also “Back Pain.”)