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What is a low back pain?

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back pain

What is a low back pain?

It is a pain in the lumbar area who may have different causes such as lumbago, sciatica,…


The lower back consists of:

  • 5 vertebrae labeled L1 to L5. They are articulated together and allows movement.
  • Between this vertebra there is a disc: his role is to absorb shocks.
  • A spinal canal where the spinal cord and roots nerves are going through. The spinal cord stops in the lower back so in the canal there is just roots nerve.
  • Ligament who joint vertebra to each other.
  • Large muscles that support the back and allows movements.
  • Blood vessels and lymphatics vessels.
  • Roots nerves who emerge from the spinal cord on both side of the vertebra all along the column.

The lumbar spine is between the thoracic and the sacrum. The lumbar spine curve is called lordosis.

Symptomatic low back pain: in 10 to 15% of cases, the low back pain is due to a disease: infection, fracture, tumor, malformation,… Only a doctor can do a diagnostic.

Common low back pain: this low back pain is not a big deal, there is no serious systemic disease involved. The common low back pain reflects a normal mechanical evolution common to all population. However, this low back pain can be very painful and requires cares and/or medical care.

We can identify 3 types of low back pain depending of the duration:

  • ACUTE: pain since days or few weeks.
  • CHRONIC: pain for more than 3 months.
  • RECURRENT: series of acute pain recurring over few months to few years.

Depending of the type, the impact on the daily life and its management vary significantly.

Most of the time it is a common acute low back pain that’s mean a mechanical origin as lumbago (violent muscle contracture with alteration of the intervertebral joint), intervertebral disc alteration, osteoarthritis. It is a benign condition and the recovery is within few days in 95% of cases.


Low back pain is very common and most people will be experiencing that one day or another. There is several factors favorizing the low back pain:

The age

The low back pain’s frequency increases with age.
Personal factors that may be involved:

  • Episodes of low back pain in the past.
  • Pregnancy: The increased weight of the uterus that moves the center of gravity forward and the distention of the abdominal muscles increased the natural lower back’s, lordosis. This lordosis is equivalent to a prolonged bad position that may be responsible to a low back pain.
  • Weakness of the abdominal belt or lumbar muscles.

Physical restraint related to a professional or a domestic activity

Low back pain belongs to all the musculoskeletal disorders that can occur in the professional or leisure environment and are:

  • Bad postures (awkward postures, prolonged sitting);
  • Heavy lifting, exposure to vibrations;
  • Hard physical work;
  • Repetitive falls

The low back pain is recognized as a disability factor at work.

Psychosocial factors and psychological factors

The psychosocial constraints (monotony of tasks, professional dissatisfaction,…) are likely to favor low back pain and in particular their transition to chronicity ….
The same is true for certain psychological factors such as depression and depressed mood.

Do not confuse low back pain with lombo-sciatica:
Sciatica is a nerve pain following a precise path of one of the sciatic nerve roots.
It is often associated with low back pain; it is a lombo-sciatica.


With an examination and some clinical tests, the osteopath will be able to eliminate any pathology and to diagnose what is the cause of the back pain

Whether it is an acute or chronic low back pain, the osteopath can provide quick and effective relief. Osteopathic care will also be important as a follow-up to avoid recurrence.

The osteopath will be able to give you ergonomic and postural advices as well as hygiene and dietetic ones in order to keep the relief and to avoid as much as possible the recurrences and the complications.

  • It is very important to protect your back, whether you have manual or static work. It is important to keep your back as straight as possible at work but also when relaxing at home. For example, if you have a backache, when you get into your car do not forget to do it in two steps: first sit on the seat with your back straight, then put your legs into the car.
  • When you sit, place your buttocks at the back of the seat, so your entire back rests right on the back seat. This way you have a good back support.
  • Also remember to bend your knees or make lunges when you have to pick something up from the floor, same for a sock or a pack of water. So, you protect your back by keeping it straight and without causing constraints that would weaken it.
  • Even when you sleep it is important to keep your back straight. If you are a back sleeper put a small pillow under your knees. If you are a side sleeper, put the pillow between your legs. Try to avoid as much as possible sleeping on your stomach.
  • It is important to have a healthy lifestyle, and to practice a physical activity, it will strengthen your back and protect it.
  • During pregnancy, because of all the change in your posture, tensions can appear in the lumbar region. Osteopathy by gentle and precise manipulations can relieve back pain and ensure that the future mother can fully enjoy her pregnancy without worry of her back and without taking medication.

If you are experiencing back pain due to a bad posture feel free to call us (416) 931-7686 or to request an appointment online.