Senior male tennis player with shoulder pain sitting on bench at court

How To Knock Out Shoulder Pain

That nagging shoulder ache…the sharp pain when you move your arm or the twinge between your shoulder blades. Sometimes, you even feel shoulder pain in your neck. Regardless, it translates to constant and uncomfortable pain, often inhibiting daily activities.

So what do you do and is surgery in your future?

Sadly, many are told that surgery is their only option as the next step toward relief. In reality, there are some truly amazing conservative care options to fully explore before scheduling time in the OR, if you’re willing to commit to a treatment regime. 

But first, let’s explore what causes chronic shoulder pain, your best non-surgical treatment options, and what’s involved in each.

What Causes Chronic Shoulder Pain?

Our shoulders are actually the most mobile of all our joints, making them even more susceptible to overuse and injury. One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff tear. Simply put, this injury is a tear within the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder. This tear or series of tears can happen from sudden trauma, like in an accident involving lifting heavy weight or an unexpected fall. It can also develop slowly over time through many micro-traumas as an overuse injury. 

Symptoms of rotator cuff injuries include pain, weakness, and a loss or partial loss of range of motion around the affected joint and can grow increasingly unpleasant. Many people also hear a clicking sound when they try to raise their arm. 

Another common cause of shoulder pain is an injury called “frozen shoulder.” Frozen shoulder generally operates through a series of three phases, starting with “freezing.” This phase is characterized by shoulder pain first, but then a progressive loss of range of motion within the shoulder. Stiffness of the shoulder sets in to signal phase two, before the “thawing” phase three takes over to allow a gradual return to movement. 

Other shoulder pain can be derived from bursitis, rotator cuff impingement, or even arthritis in the shoulder. 

At-Home Treatment For Shoulder Pain

The first step to managing your shoulder pain is to get a proper diagnosis. Frozen shoulder is commonly misdiagnosed as a rotator cuff tear, so be sure to give your doctor as many details as you can. 

Rotator Cuff Tear

Should your diagnosis indicate a rotator cuff tear, early treatment is key. If you delay the structured healing of this tendon, the rotator cuff begins to retract, inhibiting the success of both conservative and invasive treatments. The good news is that small and medium tears respond well to conservative rehab. This includes a carefully structured rehabilitation plan with appropriate exercises to take you through the various healing stages. Many have also experienced relief from applying both ice and heat to the area. Pacing your rehab is also important, avoiding excessive use but not limiting mobilization either, as light movement can actually help the healing process. 

Frozen Shoulder

If you’re managing a frozen shoulder, be sure to act appropriately according to the stage your shoulder is currently in. Getting overzealous with a rehab plan is a recipe to set yourself further back on your healing timeline. For example, during the “freezing” stage, gentle joint mobilizations and stretches can be tolerated, but aggressive soft-tissue treatment may actually aggravate the injury further. Use pain as an indicator and try to stay on the conservative side until you reach phase two. 

Once you’re in phase two, your joint can handle a bit more of a treatment and structured rehab plan, including mobilizations with movement. Phase three is where you can really begin to see the benefit of getting deeper and more sophisticated with movement, exercises, and stretches. 

Keep in mind that rehabbing a frozen shoulder can feel like a long game; many cases report up to 30 months before full healing is achieved. This makes patience and perspective all the more important throughout your recovery process. With health on the other side, it’s worth it!

Chiropractic Care For Shoulder Pain

Chiropractic treatment is another great option within the conservative care realm to help with shoulder pain and other chronic shoulder issues. The gentle adjustments that your practitioner may apply help to realign the spine and extremities for better overall function during the healing process. This can help to loosen up the body as a whole, as well as decrease inflammation. Depending on your specific case and the severity of your shoulder injury, some additional manual therapy may also be applied to encourage healing. Your chiropractor can also help prescribe the best at-home exercises to quicken your recovery time outside of the office and guide you through the phases of recovery accordingly.

By scheduling regular chiropractic care, you can help to keep your body’s response system in tip-top shape and minimize inflammation. During the initial evaluation, we will go over your symptom history in detail and construct a treatment plan that you are completely comfortable with before moving forward. 

Don’t put off your healing; schedule an appointment online or call (626) 469-7478.


Herniated Discs – Here’s How To Recover Quickly

Herniated Discs – Here’s How To Recover Quickly

If you have a herniated disc, you’re all too familiar with the neck or back pain that comes with it— radiating pain in your arms, hips, buttocks, or legs are common symptoms.

Just what causes a herniated disc? 

Over time, discs can simply become worn down, a process called “disc degeneration.” Spinal discs lose some of their water content with age, making them less flexible and more at risk of rupturing, even with a seemingly-minor strain that comes with everyday living. While most patients can’t pinpoint the cause of their herniated disc, others report that it was a powerful sneeze caused a disc to rupture or tear. Regardless of how the rupture occurs, when the liquid center of the disc spills out into the spinal column through the tear in the outer lining of the disc, painful, life-affecting symptoms can result. 

What are your treatment options and which should you absolutely avoid?

What Is a Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs are sometimes called ruptured or slipped discs. When your spinal disc ruptures it sometimes causes nerves on the hard outer layer of the disc to become irritated. This causes pain in the area around the disc. If material from the inner disc causes spinal compression your symptoms may shoot out to other areas of your body, causing you to experience and combination of:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weak muscles and muscle spasms

Herniated discs in your neck can cause the above symptoms in your shoulders and arms, while a herniated disc in the lower back can cause these symptoms to show up in your buttocks, thighs, and even your feet. These painful symptoms are also a common cause of sciatica.

Herniated Discs: The Basics

Over time discs can simply become worn down, a process called disc degeneration. Spinal discs lose some of their water content with age, making them less flexible and more at risk of rupturing, even with a seemingly-minor strain that comes with everyday living. While most patients can’t pinpoint the cause of their herniated disc, others report that it was a powerful sneeze caused a disc to rupture or tear!

When the liquid center of the disc spills out into the spinal column through the tear in the outer lining of the disc, painful, life-affecting symptoms can result. 

The 3 Most Common Types of Herniated Discs

When you’re experiencing the effects of a herniated disc, the type of symptoms depends largely on the location and severity of the damaged disc.

Your spine is made up of three regions: cervical, thoracic and lumbar. The soft-yet-strong discs that provide cushion for each section of your spine make it possible for your spine to support your upper body, maintain a wide range of motion, and support your head all at the same time.

The three main types of herniated discs are:

  • Lumbar herniated discs are between any of the vertebrae numbered 1 – 5 in the lower back. This is the most common type of herniated discs, as it supports so much weight and movement. Tingling, numbness, and lower body muscle weakness are all symptoms of a lumbar herniated disc.
  • Cervical herniated discs. These are located between any of the vertebrae numbered 1 – 7 in the neck, and have the complex task of supporting and moving your head. Symptoms here can begin in the neck and travel out to the shoulders, arms, and hands. Shooting pain, numbness, and impaired fine motor skills are also common symptoms of cervical herniated discs.
  • Thoracic herniated discs are found between any of the vertebrae numbered 1 – 12 in the middle back. This type of herniated disc is comparatively rare since vertebrae are attached to the rib cage and don’t move. A traumatic injury such as a car accident is more likely to cause thoracic herniated discs, rather than age alone. Pain symptoms are usually reported in the chest and abdomen.

Treatment for Herniated Discs

A combination of treatment options can be used through at least the first six weeks of pain and discomfort:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy
  • Ice and heat therapy for pain relief
  • Medications including ibuprofen, naproxen or COX-2 inhibitors
  • Narcotic pain medications
  • Oral steroids
  • Epidural injections

Surgery is also a widely-used treatment option for a herniated disc, including an operation that surgically removes the entire damaged disc. However, surgery carries with it inherent risks, and its long-term effectiveness is becoming more widely questioned. Instead, many patients are turning to chiropractic care and experiencing huge relief.

Options include chiropractic care as well as non-surgical spinal decompression tables. Surgery should be a last resort when no other treatments have been effective.

Chiropractic Care for Herniated Discs

Chiropractic care thoroughly assesses your medical history while factoring in the results of a physical exam, orthopaedic, and neurological tests. Everything from your posture to reflexes are thoroughly considered.

Chiropractic care is always focused on you as an individual, and your body as a whole. Even if, for example, you only have lower back pain, chiropractic care assesses your entire spine for overall functioning. What happens in one area of your spine can have a huge impact on other parts of your spine and body.

A common and powerful chiropractic treatment for a herniated disc is known as spinal manipulation, or adjustment, which applies gentle pressure to the affected areas. Many patients report experiencing instant pain relief.  Then, your ongoing individual treatment plan is customized to your pain levels, activity, overall health, and more. 

You shouldn’t have to struggle with pain that interferes with your enjoyment of daily life – especially when relief can be simple and long-lasting. Make an appointment online or call our team at (626) 469-7478 so our team can collaborate on helping you feel better right away.

Information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice.


Is It A Migraine, Tension Headache, or ‘Just’ a Headache?

Is It A Migraine, Tension Headache, or ‘Just’ a Headache?

Headache pain: dull to throbbing, splitting to burning. There’s no denying it, a headache is enough to ruin your day or for some, sideline you for days. Just what causes headaches and why do some seem to be more prone to pain than others?   

In this article, we discuss the four most common types of headaches: migraines, cluster, tension, and cervicogenic, common triggers, and your best treatment options. 


Migraine pain feels like a strong, often one-sided throbbing pain radiating from deep inside your head. The pain can last several hours to many days. Migraines may also make you sensitive to sound and light or cause nausea and vomiting. One in five people also experience “auras,” or disturbances in their vision just before the onset of a migraine. Typical auras include flashing or sparkling lights or stars, zigzag lines, or even blind spots.

Anyone can get a migraine — adults, children, men and women although women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. Migraines often run in families and are also associated with certain nervous system conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleep disruption, dehydration, hunger, specific foods, hormones, and exposure to chemicals can all trigger a migraine.

Treating Migraines

Typical over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen often don’t provide relief to migraine pain, leading doctors to prescribe triptans or drugs that decrease inflammation and change the flow of blood within your brain. Medications that decrease the number of migraine occurrences may also be prescribed, although they do not address the source cause of your headaches. 

Chiropractic treatment, in contrast, gets to the root of what’s causing your migraine. Focusing on the body’s alignment, particularly the spine, eases pain and improves your body’s mobility. 

Though individual treatment plans will vary, chiropractic care focuses on determining the specific characteristics of your migraines. Many patients respond well to adjustment– moving, stretching, and gently placing pressure on the spine, allowing the body to heal naturally.

Cluster Headaches

If you’re experiencing severe burning, piercing pain behind one eye or on one side of your face along with swelling, redness, and sweating, you’re likely experiencing a cluster headache. Other symptoms include nasal congestion and tearing eyes on the same side as the headache.

“Cluster” headaches get their trademark name from typically striking in a series, (or cluster) with each headache lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. During a cluster, most people report one to four headaches each day, often for months at a time. In the months between clusters, most people are completely free of headache symptoms. 

Interestingly, cluster headaches are three times more common in men than in women, and are also more common in the Spring and Fall.  Cluster headaches also tend to strike patients at the same time each year. 

Treatment for Cluster Headaches

Doctors aren’t sure what causes cluster headaches and often prescribe treatments such as oxygen therapy, Imitrex, local anesthetics, or calcium channel blockers that either shorten the cluster attack or send headaches into temporary remission. 

When you’re experiencing cluster headaches, your body is communicating that it isn’t functioning optimally. Chiropractic treatment focuses preventative care by making adjustments to the upper cervical joints (upper neck). When joint motion is restored, the nervous system can relax and function optimally, bringing powerful relief from cluster headaches.

Tension Headaches

Ever get a dull, achy sensation all over your head? This is typical of a tension headache as opposed to the distinct throbbing of migraines. Tension headaches may also cause your neck, forehead, scalp, or shoulder muscles to feel tender.

The most common cause of tension headaches is subluxations in the upper back and neck usually in conjunction with active trigger points. Sometimes the top cervical vertebrae will lose normal motion, causing painful muscle spasms. People who sit at a desk all day, spend large amounts of time on their smartphone, (resulting in the dreaded “tech neck”) or who’ve suffered whiplash are more susceptible to tension headaches.

Treating Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are often brought on by stress. Over-the-counter pain relievers often provide pain relief but for more severe headaches, prescription drugs like indomethacin, meloxicam, and ketorolac may also be prescribed.

While drugs may provide pain relief, they do not address the origin of what’s causing your headaches. A common root cause is a misaligned vertebrae pressing on the nerves above and below the spine, disrupting the communication link between the brain and the affected body part. Gentle chiropractic adjustments greatly reduce or even eliminate your tension headache pain.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches often feel similar to migraines; light and noise sensitivity, blurred vision, and an upset stomach are common symptoms. A migraine headache, however, is rooted in the brain, while a cervicogenic headache is rooted in the cervical spine/neck or base of the skull.

Cervicogenic headaches include a distinct throbbing head pain along with:

  • Pain on one side of your head or face, or around the eyes
  • Stiff neck, or pain that accompanies neck movement
  • Pain while coughing or sneezing

Common causes include degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, a prolapsed disc in the neck, or whiplash. Cervicogenic headaches may also occur due to poor posture while sitting or standing. And if your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, you may unknowingly put pressure on the neck and base of the skull, triggering a cervicogenic headache. Even falling asleep in an awkward position can cause a cervicogenic headache. 

Treating Cervicogenic Headaches

Since inflammation and other problems with the nerves can cause cervicogenic headaches, your doctor may recommend oral over-the-counter medications or a muscle relaxant.

Chiropractic care will often involve applying pressure to different parts of your neck and base of your head to determine whether a particular spot is triggering a headache. Additionally, tests to determine if changes in neck positioning provoke a headache may also be part of diagnostic treatment.

Ongoing adjustments as part of your treatment plan will help with pain as will simply avoiding activities that worsen pain, applying ice or heat for 10 to 15 minutes, using a neck brace when you’ve got a sore neck, and practicing good posture.

There are many physical and environmental factors to consider when determining which type of headache you have, and you often won’t be completely sure until you’ve consulted with a doctor. Schedule an online appointment or call us (626) 469-7478, we will help determine the root cause of your pain so a customized treatment plan can be mapped out for your immediate and ongoing relief.


10 Piriformis Stretches to Get Rid of Sciatica, Hip, and Lower Back Pain

10 Piriformis Stretches to Get Rid of Sciatica, Hip, and Lower Back Pain

Changes in weather, aging, increased physical activity…perhaps your knees, ankles, hips or lower back are feeling the strain. Our golden rule of thumb: always listen to your body. Although sometimes, those pesky aches and pains may be indicative of something more.

Let me explain. 

There’s a tiny muscle you’ve probably never heard of that has a powerful effect on your daily movements. It’s called the piriformis and it enables you to move your hips, upper legs, and feet away from your body. The piriformis also covers the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back and down towards your legs.When the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, it results in the very painful condition called “sciatica.” 

The strains of daily life can place even more pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing numbness, tingling, and even acute pain that can last from minutes to hours. Luckily, there are several simple and effective ways to stretch out that tiny piriformis muscle and provide relief from your sciatica pain. In this article, we share 10 simple exercises to gently stretch your piriformis to ease your symptoms.

Luckily, there are several simple and effective ways to stretch out that tiny piriformis muscle and provide relief from your sciatica pain. Give these 10 powerful piriformis stretches a try— and be sure to watch the videos, too.

1. Simple Seated Stretch

1. Start by sitting in a chair and cross your sore leg over the knee of your other leg.

2. While keeping your spine straight, bend your chest forward. If you don’t feel pain, bend forward a little more.

3. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. 

4. Repeat this stretch with your other leg.

2. Standing Piriformis Stretch

If you have trouble balancing with this stretch, stand with your back against a wall and your feet about 24 inches from the wall for extra support.

1. While standing, place the leg that’s causing you pain over the knee of your other leg. It should create the shape of the number 4.

2. Lower your hips at a 45-degree angle until they reach the ground. Bend the leg you’re standing on as needed. 

3. As you bend forward at the waist, reach your arms down to the ground while keeping your spine straight.

4. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

5. Switch legs when done.

3. Supine Piriformis Stretch

1. Lie down and bend your knees upwards.

2. Cross the affected leg over your other leg and bend it upwards toward your chest.

3. Grab your knee with one hand and your ankle in your other hand. Pull the bent leg across your body until your glutes are pulled tight.

4. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and release.

4. Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch

1. Lying on your back, bend your sore leg upward and place your foot close to the back of your other knee.

2. Tuck your foot behind that knee and twist your leg to the opposite side. Your knee should be touching the ground (or as close as you can get).

3. Place the hand on your opposite knee and raise your opposite arm in the air.

4. Hold for 20 seconds.

5. Switch to the other leg.

You’ll want to recover from this stretch! Lie on your back, bend both knees together and gently pull them with your hands toward your chest.

5. Groin/Long Adductor Stretch

1. Sitting on the floor, stretch your legs straight out in front of you, spread as far apart as possible.

2. Place your hands on the floor next to each other while angling your torso forward toward the ground.

3. Lean forward and rest your elbows on the ground. If you encounter pain, stop right away!

4. Remain in the position for 10-20 seconds.

6. Inner Thigh/Short Adductor Stretch

1. While sitting on the ground, put the soles of your feet together in front of your pelvis.

2. Hold your ankles with the opposite hands (left hand – right ankle and vice versa).

3. Gently push downward with your knees with the effort to touch the ground with them. You need to stop right before

any pain occurs, which means that if you feel pain, get back an inch or two and stay there.

4. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and flutter your legs in that position (like a butterfly) for 30 seconds.

Want an even deeper stretch? Push your knees down with your elbows or bend your torso forward while keeping your back straight.

7. Side Lying Clam 

1. Lie down on the side of your body that isn’t in pain.

2. Bend your legs back, holding one foot over the other and keeping your legs parallel to each other. You should be creating an “L” shape.

3. Keeping your feet together, lift up the top knee while keeping the rest of your body in the original position.

4. Slowly bring your knee to the initial position.

5. Repeat 15 times.

8. Hip Extension 

1. Get down on the ground on all fours, making sure your hands are in line with your shoulders.

2. Raise your affected leg upward with your knee bent toward the ceiling.

3. Gradually lower your leg until it’s almost touching the ground. 

4. Repeat 15 times.

9. Supine Piriformis Side Stretch

1. Lie on the ground with your legs flat and back straight.

2. Bend your sore leg upward, resting the foot on the outer side of the opposite leg beside the knee.

3. Ease the knee of your affected leg across the middle of your body with your opposite hand until you feel a stretch, making sure to keep both your shoulders and hips on the ground.

4. Hold for 30 seconds, return to the starting position and switch legs. 

5. Repeat the process 2-3 times.

10. Buttocks Stretch for the Piriformis Muscle

1. Place your hands and knees on the ground, getting into position on all fours.

2. Bring the foot of your affected leg underneath your stomach, twisting it toward the opposite side near the hip, while pointing with the knee toward the shoulder.

3. Lower your head, until your forehead touches the ground, and lean your forearms on the ground for support.

4. Slowly stretch the non-affected leg out behind you, while keeping your pelvis straight.

5. Push your hips slightly toward the floor.

6. Hold for 30 seconds and return to the initial position slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.

Note that home remedies are helpful in mitigating pain but do not address the root cause. A full chiropractic examination identifies the source of your pain, provides treatment to relieve the symptoms, and establishes a customized treatment plan to ensure you’ll keep the pain at bay, for good. Make an online appointment or call us (626) 469-7478.

This content isn’t meant to diagnose or treat your medical condition and is not a substitute for in-person medical advice.


Can Your Leg or Back Pain Actually Be Sciatica?

If you’ve been experiencing consistent leg or back pain (or perhaps you’d describe it as a burning or tingling sensation), sciatica might be the culprit.

Sciatica is a term that describes the symptoms of leg pain that starts in the lower back, moves through the buttocks and into the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. 

Sciatica also often includes:

  • Consistent pain in one side of the buttock or leg that worsens when you sit down.
  • Weakness or numbness that makes it difficult to move your leg, foot, or toes.
  • Sharp pain that makes it difficult to walk or stand.
  • Pain that travels down just one leg and into the foot and toes.

Sciatica is associated with two common lower body conditions. What are they and what should you do if you’re experiencing this pain?

Two very common types of pain that traces back to sciatica are piriformis syndrome and a herniated disc/bulging disc.

Piriformis Syndrome 

The piriformis muscle connects the lower spine to the thigh and makes hip rotation possible. Piriformis syndrome develops when muscle spasms crop up in the piriformis muscle and compress the sciatic nerve that’s located underneath. 

If you are experiencing pain in the hip, the center of the buttocks, or down the back of the leg, you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome.

A Herniated Disc/Bulging Disc 

With a bulging disc, the gel-like center protrudes but stays within the outer wall of the disc. A herniated disc, on the other hand, occurs when the gel-like center breaks through the disc. 

Whether a disc is bulging or herniating, disc material presses against a nearby nerve root, pushing down on nerve tissue and causing sciatica. In either case, nerve compression and irritation results in both inflammation and pain, causing numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.

This pain can occur anywhere on the spine, but usually affects the lower back.

Think you might have sciatica? Here’s what to do next.

Home Care Treatment

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles in the back of the thigh that help bend the knee and extend the hip; stretching your hamstrings may help ease your lower back pain. Unfortunately most of our daily activities don’t involve the hamstrings, so stretching exercises keeps them healthy.

Secrets behind powerful hamstring stretches:

  • When you can, warm up before stretching with a 10-minute walk will help get your blood pumping.
  • Ease into the stretch gently and hold it for about 10 seconds, twice per day. Over time, you can increase to 30 seconds or more each time.
  • Remember to breathe!

Hamstring Stretches While Lying on Your Back

If you’re experiencing low back pain or leg pain, you might benefit from hamstring stretching exercises done while lying on the back, which is least stressful on the rest of your body.

Use A Towel:

  • Lie on your back, supporting your thigh with your hand or with a towel wrapped around it.
  • Slowly straighten your knee until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. The ultimate goal is for the bottom of your foot to face the ceiling. 
  • Hold the position initially for 10 seconds, and gradually work up to 20 to 30 seconds, stretching one leg at a time.

Use A Wall:

  • Lie back on the floor with your buttocks against a wall at a corner or by a door jamb.
  • Keeping one leg on the floor, place your foot of your alternate leg against the wall and try to gently push your knee straight so the raised leg and the leg on the floor make a 90 degree angle.
  • Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds.

Hamstring Stretches While Sitting

Hamstring stretches from a seated position can be varied based on the placement of your leg.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

  • Sitting at the edge of a chair, straighten one leg in front of you, with your heel on the floor.
  • Sit up straight and push your navel towards your thigh, but don’t lean the rest of your body forward.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times for each leg.

Give each exercise a try and decide which one feels best for you.

Chiropractic Treatment

If you’re not experiencing pain relief from the home care exercises, or if your symptoms are prolonged or recurring, it may be time to schedule a full chiropractic exam. A chiropractor will identify the cause of your pain, provide immediate relief, and develop a treatment plan that fits your specific needs. 

Treatment for pain relief often includes a chiropractic adjustment, applying gentle pressure on the painful areas to help reduce nerve irritability and restore your range of motion. Mobilization techniques may also be used, which stretch your sore muscles and joints so they’ll feel better right away.

Beyond immediate relief, a key component of any successful treatment plan involves getting to know the patient and setting goals for the future. A holistic treatment plan that includes therapeutic treatment, maintenance care, exercise, and activity modification can help get rid of your pain for good.

This article isn’t intended to provide diagnosis or treatment – there’s no substitute for professional consultation about your specific symptoms. You shouldn’t have to endure leg or back pain –  schedule an appointment online or call (626) 469-7478


What Causes Lower Back Pain? (And What To Do Next)

Everyone’s lower back pain is unique. Pain can come on suddenly or build over time, increase when sitting or lying down, or at other times it seems to follow you everywhere you go.

Regardless of your exact pain, everyone who suffers from lower back pain has one thing in common: you want it gone. And now. While most cases of low back muscle strain subside naturally within a couple of hours to a few days, if your pain has continued for more than a week or two, it’s time to seek medical attention.

What are the more common types of back pain and underlying causes?

First, let’s discuss the different types of lower back pain and the underlying causes.


The term sciatica describes leg pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness that starts off in your lower back and travels down the sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. Sciatica isn’t a medical diagnosis but is a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

You might be experiencing sciatica nerve pain if your pain is:

  • In just one side of your buttock, or in one leg
  • Worse when you’re sitting down
  • Best described as burning, tingling vs.  a dull ache
  • Making it hard to move your leg, foot, and/or toes

Lower Spinal Disc Pain 

Disc pain is most common in the lower back, where most spinal movement and weight-bearing activities occur. There are many different terms used to describe issues with a spinal disc and disc pain, including: 

  • Herniated, slipped, or bulging disc
  • Pinched nerve
  • Ruptured/torn disc
  • Disc protrusion

There are also two ways a spinal disc can result in lower back pain:

  • Disc pain. Sometimes the disc itself degenerates to the point of causing spinal segments to become unstable. This can result in chronic, low-level pain around the disc mixed in with bouts of more severe pain.
  • Pinched nerve. Most of the time it’s not the disc itself causing lower back pain,  it’s the material leaking out of the disc. This material pinches and irritates nerves in the area, producing  sharp, shooting pains that radiate to other parts of the body.

Spinal Arthritis

Stiffness and lower back pain can often be traced back to spinal arthritis. This type of lower back pain moves in a distinct cycle throughout the day, such as:

  • The lower back pain and stiffness are worst first thing in the morning.
  • Over the course of the day, the pain becomes more tolerable.
  • When evening comes, the pain and stiffness get worse.
  • Pain that disrupts sleep is often an indicator of osteoarthritis.

There’s also localized tenderness when you press down on the affected area of the spine. You might also experience pinching, tingling, or numbness in the spinal cord, which happens when bone spurs form at the edge of the joints of the spine and irritate the nerves.

Pulled Lower Back Muscle

A pulled lower back muscle is the culprit in most episodes of lower back pain. It happens when the soft tissues supporting the lower spine, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, become damaged. Pain usually comes on suddenly and can often be linked to a specific event or activity.

A pulled back muscle might sound like a minor injury, but the pain and muscle spasms that result can be severe. The soft tissues in your lower back help support weight from the upper body. When they’re under too much stress, the low back muscles or soft tissues become injured.

Symptoms from a pulled lower back muscle include:

  • Strained muscles that feel sore, tight, or achy.
  • Pain that gets worse the more you move. You might also feel stiffness when you try to walk or stand. 
  • Pain concentrated in the lower back. Pain from a pulled muscle doesn’t travel to other parts of the body.
  • Inflammation that feels tender to the touch.
  • Temporary pain relief when you’re resting. 

It’s not uncommon to experience occasional pain flare-ups for up to 4 to 6 weeks after the lower back injury.

Non-surgical Treatments for Lower Back Pain

Fortunately, there is a broad range of non-surgical treatment options available, each one with the goal of relieving pain caused by a compressed nerve root. 

A few of the more common measures include:

  • Apply ice – then heat if necessary. If you’ve had an injury (an acute event) or new pain, first try ice to reduce the inflammation. If the pain persists beyond 72 hours, then you may want to try heat or alternating cold and heat. 
  • Pain medications. Over-the-counter or prescription medications are often effective in reducing lower back pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or oral steroids can reduce the inflammation that is usually part of the cause of pain. Muscle relaxants or narcotics may also be prescribed for up to 2 weeks to help with the pain.
  • Epidural steroid injections. When the pain is severe, an epidural steroid injection can also reduce inflammation. The injection goes directly into the painful area around the nerve.

Chiropractic Treatment for Lower Back Pain

You may have heard the term “subluxation” used by chiropractors to describe the abnormal position of the vertebra that causes discomfort or pain and can restrict movement. Chiropractors view subluxation – and your lower back pain – as a process, rather than a fixed condition.

Chiropractic treatment for lower back pain usually involves some type of manual therapy:

  • Spinal manipulation and manual manipulation. Widely known as a chiropractic adjustment, gentle pressure is applied to abnormal vertebra to help reduce nerve irritability and restore range of motion in the back. 
  • Mobilization refers to a lower-velocity manipulation that stretches the muscles and joints, increasing the range of motion.

A key part of any successful chiropractic treatment plan involves getting to know the patient and setting achievable goals. The treatment plan is built around the patient’s pain issues and stamina and includes exercise, activity modification, and more, all working together to banish your lower back pain for good.

Hey, we get it. You’re experiencing lower back pain and are seeking answers as to what might be causing it. This article isn’t intended to provide diagnosis or treatment – there’s no substitute for professional consultation about your specific symptoms. Don’t let lower back pain keep you down any longer –  schedule an appointment online or call us at (626) 469-7478.