Why Does My Back Hurt?

Mackenzie Seymour/ April 13, 2017/ Dr. Danielle/

Four in five Canadians will experience low back pain at some point in their life, according to the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario’s (RMTAO) website. One of the draw-backs of being bipedal, walking on two legs, is that our lower-back and hips take on a lot of stress as they try to keep us upright.

Low back pain is confusing and frustrating for those who experience it because, often, the reason they are experiencing pain can be as complicated as the structures causing the discomfort. Some reasons for low back pain can be:

  • A herniated intervertebral disk: A pliable tissue that serves as a shock resistance system between each vertebra in the spine, if they become displaced they can rub against the spinal cord causing significant nerve pain.
  • Inflammation of the facet joints of the spine: each vertebra connects to the other through a series of oblique capsular joints, almost exactly like the joints of your fingers. Just like your finger joints, these joints can become inflamed and overused resulting in pain. Extreme types of arthritis can lead to the vertebrae eventually fusing together.
  • Lesion of a spinal nerve: if a nerve becomes pinched where it emerges from the spine this will, naturally, cause nerve pain. This causes different areas in the low-back and legs to experience pain, depending on where the nerves are trapped.
  • Muscle spasm: This can be caused by any of the above, plus, excess stress in your life. Basically a muscle spasm is your body’s way of guarding against hurting yourself further, whether you’ve just overstretched a joint, or you’re feeling particularly stressed one day.

These are just a few of the more common examples. While RMT’s in Ontario can’t make formal diagnoses, many of these conditions can be determined through the use of special orthopaedic tests and manual neurological testing in which RMT’s are trained in.

Several studies over the years had shown that well-informed, clinical massage therapy has been able to significantly reduce chronic and acute low-back pain over a variety of demographics. Collectively studies have proven that range of motion increases, emotional and mental health is reported to increase, and the protein that activates pain receptors in the brain decreases in those who experience massage.

Ultimately, if you suffer from low back pain and haven’t considered incorporating massage therapy into your circle of care, you may be surprised at how effective it is at relieving your symptoms.