“I have put my back out!” This is a phrase we hear often and usually after a patient has lifted something heavy and awkward, bent over to pick something up, or has slept on a soft saggy mattress. In my experience this type of lower back pain is often related to a muscle called the Quadratus Lumborum, or the QL for short.
The QL is a muscle that resides in the lower back on either side of the spine. It functions to stabilize the spine and pelvis but also helps you to stand up straight, lift your hip, and bend sideways at the waist.
Poor posture and sitting for long periods can weaken other spine and pelvis stabilizing muscles of the lower back and buttocks, which can force the QL muscle to constrict and tighten in an attempt to compensate for this loss of support in the lower back.
Let's say this scenario of muscle weakness and QL muscle compensation has been going on for a while in your lower back, unbeknownst to you. One day a mate asks you to help move a couch, you oblige and move the couch - no problem. But that night you begin experiencing deep, ache that might even sharp in the lower back. It hurts to walk and stand up, and even rolling over in bed is painful. What happened? Well, the extra strain from lifting the couch has overloaded an already tight QL muscle in your lower back, which has caused it to go into spasm and become painful.
At Poke Acupuncture we have a very systematic treatment approach to lower back pain. Therapy begins with a thorough western orthopedic assessment of the spine and sciatic nerve, then the hips for muscular imbalances, the posterior chain (muscles on the backside of the body) for tension and trigger points, followed by an alignment check of the pelvis. Specific therapies will be chosen depending on your needs and assessment findings. Some of the therapies that will be utilized may include: acupuncture, dry needling, electro- acupuncture, massage therapy, cupping therapy, kinesio taping, herbal liniments, stretching and corrective exercises.
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Ryan Samuels - Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist