Did You Know? Your X-Ray May Not Explain Your Low Back Pain

Did You Know? Your X-Ray May Not Explain Your Low Back Pain

February 17, 2023

Wait, WHAT? Studies have shown that 88% of people in their 60’s and 93% of people in their 70’s will be diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. But these studies were done on asymptomatic people.
That’s right, these studies were done on people who have no pain or symptoms at all. So how can that be?

It’s a known fact that as we get older, our bodies will show signs of wear and tear. One area you can count on showing these signs is your lower back and that will show up on your next x-ray. But if your x-ray shows wear and tear, doesn’t that “explain” your back pain? No, not always, it doesn’t! As mentioned above, wear and tear on your back is actually considered a “normal” finding. So, what’s really going on? Chances are, something else is really causing your back pain.

Let’s look at a typical scenario. Your back has been hurting for over a month. You try to rest and sitting down makes you feel better but every time you get up, your back starts hurting again. When you walk for any length of time, you have to lean over because your back is hurting. You go to the doctor, they take an x-ray and tell you that you have degenerative disc disease (DDD for short). The doctor gives you a prescription for an anti- inflammatory and a referral for physical therapy. Since you don’t like taking medication, you skip the trip to the pharmacy and think to yourself, “what can physical therapy really do for me?” Reluctantly, you go and within a few visits you start feeling better. Six weeks later, your back feels amazing! But guess what? Your x-ray shows you still have a degenerative spine. How can that be? The answer is simple. The degenerative condition in your back wasn’t actually the thing that created your pain. This is a perfect example of what I mentioned in the title of this article. That x-ray had nothing to do with why your back was actually hurting. This is also why you hear of people who have back surgery but continue to have back pain even after their surgery. The surgery might have “fixed” the problem, but the “problem” wasn’t the actual source of the pain.

So, what’s really causing the pain? The truth is, you probably had some muscle tightness in those muscles that attach to your spine. Or your pelvis was out of position. So, now you must be thinking, “Maybe I should just do a little stretching.” Well, yes, sort of. Do you know which ones to do? Probably not. Because if you did, then your back wouldn’t still be hurting. Right? Or you may be thinking, “if my pelvis is out of position, I’ll just go back to see the chiropractor.” Well, again, maybe? Did your chiropractor ever actually FIX your problem and teach you how to maintain the fix, or did they just set you up for a lifetime of maintenance treatments?

Be sure to look for our next article in two weeks where I will tell you more about what muscles could be tight and pulling on your back. I’ll also talk about your SI joint (pelvis) and how that can cause lower back pain.

Until then, if you are having lower back pain and feel like you have “tried everything” we invite you to call our office and schedule a FREE Complimentary Consultation to see if we can help. Even if you have already tried Physical Therapy or Chiropractic treatment in the past, our approach is so different, chances are you’ve never seen anything like it.