Chiropractic treatment for lower back pain

Lower back pain is the most common condition that Chiropractors will see. Some statistics say that up to 90% of us will suffer with lower back pain at some stage. Chiropractors have been at the leading edge of back pain treatment; we guide the treatment towards movement, flexibility and activity in order to heal back pain and avoid prescribing bed rest.

The medical profession has changed the way they treat back pain from seeing how Chiropractors treat, and the research in 1990 again radically altered how GPs advise on treating back pain. There is also some amazing research being done at the Chiropractic College in Bournemouth. Most back pain comes on for no reason and lower back pain is no exception. How we approach treatment depends on whether your back pain has suddenly come on and is possibly giving you sharp acute pain, or whether it is a long term chronic injury.

Advantage of Chiropractic treatment for lower back pain

Early treatment of low back pain is commonly advocated, and studies involving Chiropractic have shown that early treatment can stimulate healing and improve movement in the joints.

I have written more here about when you should seek Chiropractic help.

Acute back pain

You may be in extreme discomfort and the focus is to help you out of pain and back to mobility, work and your daily activities.

Chronic back pain

Your back pain has been there for a long time, becoming ‘chronic back pain’. At this point you may be looking to help the pain but also manage the condition longer-term, and thinking about prevention of the pain. This is possibly the biggest challenge in treating back pain, and one that I enjoy the most when I can help patients make effective changes and improvement in their lives.

Causes of lower back pain

Why is Low Back pain so common?

There are so many causes of back pain, however the lower back has more compression forces on the spine than any other area, especially in our modern lifestyle. I usually describe back pain as a multi-factorial condition; there are many factors that put stress on the back.

Manual work

It is clear that lifting places pressure on the spine and can be a cause of back pain. I have written more about compression forces on the spine and the technique of lifting is very important.

Lifting injuries to the spine

Working in twisting, bending environments cause cause spinal injuries. For example carrying heavy shopping bags, and above all not stopping to think about the lifting!

Three common causes of back pain are Sacroiliac joint pain, Facet joint pain and Sciatica from disc bulges, injury or herniation, with leg pain.

Facet joint pain

Facets are pairs of interlocking joints in the spine. They provide stability to the spine and protection to the spinal cord yet allow an extraordinary amount of movement. With the high forces on the lumbar spine they can easily become inflamed, most commonly at L4-L5 or L5-S1. They can cause considerable pain and sensitivity as they are surrounded by nerves.

Chiropractic treatment often focuses on finding the exact facet joints which have restricted movement. Being synovial joints they are the main source of the popping sounds when the spine is manipulated. Because of their rich supply of nerves, they can cause intense pain when irritated or locked. Please read further for the full article on facet joint pain.

Sacroiliac joint pain

Sacroiliac joint injuries cause about 16-30% of lower back pain, which Chiropractors are experienced at treating. Huge pressure from sitting is a common cause. Please read the full article on sacroiliac joint pain.

Sitting – The biggest cause of low back pain?

It’s quite possible that sitting in main culprit for causing low back pain. I see more sedentary workers with back pain.

In the 1990s, back pain became the number one reason for people taking time off work, changing from coughs and colds, with more sitting and computer work. Bear in mind that sitting causes more compression on the spine and that there are many benefits of using a sit-stand desk, becoming more and more relevant in our comparatively sedentary lives today.

Driving causing low back pain

Again, this is sitting, often in a locked position. Far too many of my clients commute for too long. The back angle is forced into an acute compressive angle for long periods.

I write more about sitting comfortably when driving, because it is often very important for avoiding and not worsening back pain. If you are in acute pain then it may be you are not safe to drive.

Lower back and leg pain

It is very common for clients to attend the clinic with leg pain. Broadly speaking low back with leg pain can be separated into two categories, referred pain and sciatica.

Referred pain

This is possibly the most common cause of leg pain from the lower back and arises from an irritated or inflamed lumbar facet joint, sacroiliac joint or muscle spasm in the back or pelvis. Although it can be sharp, it is usually a dull, more diffuse pain. There are no clinical or neurological signs. For further information please read the articles on facet pain and sacroiliac joint pain.


Please read the full article on sciatica here, with details of nerve impingement, foot weakness, numbness, hot or cold symptoms or pins and needles.

Chiropractic treatment of low back pain

Treatment varies depending on the phase of the injury. I write about treatments relating to different conditions in other pages, but treatment commonly consists of:

  1. Manipulation to the joints that are strained, locked or in spasm
  2. Muscle releasing techniques for the muscle spasms that can be extremely painful.
  3. Exercise and movement to help improve the mobility in the joints and muscles to help the healing process
  4. Advice about how to help prevent strain on the spine and help prevent recurrence of pain, lifestyle changes, postural training with the Alexander Technique, and ergonomic & workstation advice.