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Lower Spine News

Global Search for Causes of Low Back Pain

There is one question that researchers around the world keep asking: "What causes back pain?" They ask this about those millions of cases of back pain each year that have no obvious medical or disease-related cause. We call this type of back pain mechanical.

Mechanical back pain is so common, it is estimated that 80 percent of the people in the western world will have at least one episode in their lifetime. Is it caused by too much curve in the lower back or not enough curve? Is it weak stomach muscles or too much sitting? What about muscle tightness? Muscle weakness? Every possible cause is being considered.

Physical therapists often treat mechanical back pain. Therapists around the world have joined the search for the cause. A group of therapists in Iran studied 600 adults. They divided them into four groups including two groups (men and women separately) without back pain and two groups with back pain.

Twelve different factors were examined. Length and strength of stomach, leg, and back muscles were measured. The position of the pelvis and low back curve were part of the study. Differences in leg length were measured. The position of the feet was examined. All of these variables were compared from group to group.

When all was said and done, only muscle weakness was linked to low back pain. The size of the low back curve, the height of the foot arch, the length of the legs, and other factors weren't noteworthy. The authors suggest that increased activity and endurance exercises continue to be the number one choice in treating mechanical low back pain.


Mohammad Reza Nourbakhsh, PT, PhD, and Amir Massoud Arab, PT, MSc. Relationship Between Mechanical Factors and Incidence of Low Back Pain. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. September 2002. Vol. 32. Number 9. Pp. 447-460.

09/26/2002

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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