Stop these 3 types of soft tissue injuries and lower back pain now! You might be causing chronic pain without knowing, we have 2 solutions for you.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are a common cause of low back pain. The vertebrae of the lower back are supported by many soft tissues including tendons and ligaments attached directly to it and others that stabilize supporting structures like the pelvis.
When soft tissues are overstretched (sprained or strained) they become irritated and can cause pain. Low back pain from minor stretch injuries usually goes away on its own with enough rest, more severe injuries, however, require medical attention and set the stage for chronic low back pain.
Stretch Injuries and Laxity
Stretch injuries can range from a few torn fibrils in a soft tissue to partial and complete tears. Minor stretch injuries where there are a few torn fibrils will most likely heal on their own with enough rest. A partial or complete tear, however, will cause severe pain and the soft tissue may never heal completely.
This is a problem because soft tissues that heal incompletely can lose tightness and ability to support and stability. Lax soft tissues cannot properly support the spine which lead to excess movement in sections of the spine- this is known as segmental spinal instability. In spinal instability, the excess movement of the vertebral segments of the spine irritate surrounding nerves and soft tissues. This causes persistent pain in the unstable area that gradually worsens if left untreated.
Lax soft tissues can affect areas other than the spine, however, and still lead to low back pain. Loose ligaments in the sacroiliac joint region, where the spine joins the pelvis, can destabilize the hip and compromise its ability to support the spine. Excess tension is placed on structures the spine and soft tissues are left to compensate for this instability. This in turn leads to low back pain and irritation of soft tissues involved in compensating for hip instability.
It is worth noting that tendon and ligament laxity does not strictly come from stretch injuries involving a complete or partial tear. Gradual wear-and-tear from years of repetitive motions, abnormal mechanics, and improper healing also set the stage to soft tissue laxity and related pains. Therapeutic exercises are a great start to the path of healing.
Incomplete healing of soft tissues is a problem, not only because of potential laxity but because of the chronic pain that follows. Unfortunately, self treatment of muscu
loskeletal pain with over-the-counter medications like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen, can prove counterintuitive. This is because NSAIDs treat pain by counteracting inflammation, a process necessary for healing.
During the inflammatory process, many cells (including neutrophils and fibroblasts) are recruited to the site of injury to illicit repair. When anti-inflammatories are taken this process is compromised and can lead to incomplete healing. Furthermore, pain killing effects of NSAIDs can lead to a false perception of recovery that can lead to excessive use of the injured soft tissues before it gets a chance to heal, worsening the injury.
Proper Soft Tissue Healing
Proper healing of a particular soft tissue depends a lot on its location and the severity of injury. Mild stretch injuries can heal on their own by following the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to reduce the swelling and pain. The use of NSAIDs should be limited to instances where the pain is too much to limit its hindering effects on the healing process.
More severe stretch injuries involving a complete or partial tear of a soft tissue will require medical attention and may never heal completely. This is also true for injuries that result from gradual wear-and-tear resulting from years of incomplete healing and repetitive motions. Fortunately, treatments exist to help soft tissues heal better, regain elasticity and restore tightness.
Prolotherapy, an injection-based regenerative treatment, works by injecting healing substances to the site of injury and triggering inflammation. By doing this, the treatment recruits healing components to the site of injury to further the healing process.
Immune cells are recruited to get rid of debries as well as fibroblasts, which produce collagen that shrinks in size as it matures. This leads to the restoration of lost tightness in soft tissue and associated pain that may come from local instability.
- Hauser, R. A., & Hauser, M. A. (2009, August). Dextrose Prolotherapy for Unresolved Low Back Pain: A Retrospective Case Series Study. Retrieved from http://journalofprolotherapy.com/dextrose-prolotherapy-for-unresolved-low-back-pain-a-retrospective-case-series-study/
- Gonipath, P. (2015). Lumbar Segmental Instability: Points to ponder. Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC4602001