How To Relieve Lower Back Pain

How To Relieve Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the top 5 reasons people visit a doctor. According to The Good Body, approximately 8 out of 10 Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime. Women are more prone to back pain than men and approximately 54% of all back pain is linked to sitting at a desk for long periods of time.

The interesting thing is that 9 out of 10 people that experience back pain cannot link the cause. They go to doctors to find out how to relieve lower back pain, they take medicine and even get surgery which, in many cases, minimally addresses the problem and the pain continues.

What many doctors neglect to take into consideration is how one muscle could be causing some patient’s back distress, particularly in the lower, lumbar region. This muscle is called the iliopsoas (ill-ee-oh-so-as) and for some people it can be the root cause of low back pain as well as hip and leg pain too.

The iliopsoas is sometimes called ‘The Great Pretender’ for its ability to mimic low back pain, so addressing this muscle through various natural applications may make your discomfort a thing of the past.

How Hip Flexors Contribute to Back Pain

The iliopsoas is a deep, complex, powerful hip flexor of the thigh muscle, traversing the lower spine and the top of the leg. Most people are not familiar with this muscle so when it does inflame they can only explain it as lower back pain.

The iliopsoas intertwines with  two muscles, the iliacus and psoas. It originates along the lower spine attaching to vertebrae (T12) and lumbar (L1-L5) then it inserts into the lesser trochanter which is basically just below your femoral (top leg bone) head, near the inside thigh. It is because of this intricate, interweaving location that the iliopsoas is rarely considered as a cause for lower back pain.

Finding Your Lower Back Pain

Your lower back pain could be the result of many causes, however, if it is a shortened, tight or injured iliopsoas some of the symptoms according to The Cleveland Clinic, may include:

  • Lower back pain, the most common symptom
  • Pain in the lumbosacral region (the border between the lower part of the spine and the buttocks that can radiate up to lumbar vertebrae or down to the sacrum) when sitting or particularly when changing positions arising for sitting to standing
  • Difficulty/pain when trying to stand in a fully erect posture
  • Pain in the buttocks
  • Radiation of pain down the leg
  • Groin pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Limping or shuffling stride when you walk

How To Relieve Lower Back Pain

As this muscle eludes many medical practitioners, if you have lower back pain it is up to you to request iliopsoas consideration. Through your conventional doctor you can ask for physical therapy (PT) before medication, if you desire. Anti-inflammatories might be recommended so you may want to consider some natural sources instead to avoid additional discomfort that could be a side effect of pharmaceuticals. A combination curcumin (turmeric) and black pepper supplement is one of many natural anti-inflammatories backed by good science.

In addition to PT, massage therapy with trigger point work has shown good results in relieving pain, increasing blood flow, and gently stretching the iliopsoas to relieve tightness. By addressing the direct and surrounding musculature, particularly within the ‘femoral triangle’ which is near the hip where the upper leg joint sort of “pops” out when it is moved, iliopsoas pain can be managed.

According to Reuben S. Zngber, MD who wrote in his work, ‘Iliopsoas Myofascial Dysfunction: A Treatable Cause of “Failed” Low Back Syndrome,’ published in the Archives of Physical Medical Rehabilitation,

“Routine physical examination and x-rays rarely provide an answer to specific LBP [lower back pain] episodes. Conversely, palpable tenderness and weakness of the IP [iliopsoas] muscle and loss of pain-free hip extension can be correlated with these conditions. When these symptoms were corrected by trigger point treatment followed by self-administered, post-isometric relaxation exercises of the IP, patients were able to maintain the spinal extension achieved by the treatment and the LBP symptoms were markedly alleviated.”

Trigger point work should be done by a professional, however if someone you trust is good enough with their hands and can follow these easy instructions as described by chiropractor Ken Rich, it my help:

“Trigger point therapy is performed by applying strong pressure into the femoral triangle. When you find the right spot the patient will react strongly to the pain. Continue to apply the pressure without moving your fingers. Have the patient tell you when the pain begins to become less sharp or begins to subside, not when it’s all gone, but only when it begins to subside. Move your finger a fraction of an inch in any direction and look for more trigger points. Generally you will find from 3-6 trigger points within the femoral triangle. Once you have treated each point, go over them one more time to retreat stubborn ones which have come back. This process will take about 2-3 minutes per leg. When the therapy is done apply a stretch to the muscle by pressing down on the bent knee and the contralateral hip against strong patient contraction of the muscle for about 10 seconds. Have the patient relax the leg and apply a little more pressure to the leg to give a small additional stretch to the muscle in a relaxed state.”

Find and treat your ‘Great Pretender’ iliopsoas muscle and learn how to relieve lower back pain better than any other therapy so you can finally get some relief.