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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can cause back and neck pain?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Dr Michael Cohen, Chiropractor is co-founder of the Chirosports Group one of Australia's leading groups of Chiropractors working together since 1994. Dr Michael Cohen Chiropractor … View Profile

    Back and neck pain can have many, many causes so when finding the source of the problem it's important to first understand a full health history.  Many people are surprised to discover a childhood fall or accident, an emotional, chemical or physical trigger, or even a sedentary lifestyle as the cause for back and neck pain that may have a long undiagnosed history. Often we hear everything seemed fine and then one day for no apparent reason the pain started.

    Back and neck pain may be caused by nervous system interference, and a lock in a joint that is stopping the flow of nerve energy through the spine.  It can be caused by an accident or fall.  Chemical reasons could include hormone and other stressers.  Weight gain is a common cause.  Muscle strain and fatigue are other common causes.  A sedentary lifestyle can cause back and neck pain.  It can also be caused by emotional upset and life stress.  In other cases it can be referred pain, whereby the back and neck pain is triggered by an imbalance elsewhere in the body.  Wear and tear on the joints and discs may also lead to back and neck pain.  And of course in other cases it can be the sign of something serious such as a problem with an organ or a sometimes a fracture. Regardless, attention is needed.  Pain in the body should not be left unchecked.

    In my experience as a Chiropractor I often see the “final straw” the breaks triggering back and neck pain.  Our body has a clever way of adapting to our lifestyle until it reaches a point we refer to as “the pain threshold” when it sometimes seems something of no consequence has led to significant pain.  The underlying problem has perhaps been there for a while and then pain kicks in when the body can no longer compensate.

    With back and neck pain it is important to be conservative and thorough in both diagnosis and treatment.  There are some cases where it may be necessary to have an XRay before assessment and treatment.  Chiropractic care will look to find the source of the problem, and to address this source.  Back and neck pain is very common, real and unpleasant, however, there are results that can be achieved with diagnosis and care.

    In clinic, if a Chiropractor cannot find the source of the problem, they will commonly refer to a Medical Doctor for a further examination and opinion.

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    Joel Laing

    Physiotherapist

    I am a McKenzie Method specialised physiotherapist, with a Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy. Using the McKenzie Method I predominantly treat low back and … View Profile

    The short answer is lifestyle!The spine has normal curves, including a Lumbar LORDOSIS (natural curve in the lower back). Loss of the lordosis occurs with many lifestyle positions on a frequent basis.Loss of the lumbar lordosis whether prolonged (eg. Slouched sitting or sleeping curled up) or repeated (eg. This occurs with many daily activities such as vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher, ironing, putting make-up on or shaving)starts to put excessive loading on the discs and ligaments.Initially this increase in loading on the spine caused by regular loss of the lordosis puts strain on the soft tissues such as the ligaments in the spine. At this stage pain is felt while sitting slouched or bending, but quickly disappears once you get out of the offending position. As the process continues with SLOUCHED SITTING and repeated bending, overstretching of the ligaments occurs, and as they weaken over time this then starts to cause loading on the disc leading. This excessive loading on the disc causes weakening of the cartilage inside it. If not corrected this then leads to bulging of the disc.If this overloading from regular loss of the lordosis is not corrected (posture is the key!!!) the disc can bulge far enough to touch the nerve behind it, giving rise to radicular symptoms in the leg called (Sciatica).While some people lift something heavy to trigger their back pain, more often the thing that starts the pain is something trivial like a bend forward (especially in the early hours of the day after waking), getting up from sitting or a sneeze. This is as poor lifestyle habits have begun weakening and damaging the disc long before pain arises, and this trivial movement is the last straw.

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