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Roaring Fork Valley | Glenwood Springs | Chiropractor

Low Back Pain & Sciatica​


​​​​Common Causes Of Low Back Pain & Sciatica

Disc Injury
Between each backbone (vertebra) is a disc which acts as a shock absorber of the spine.  Discs aid in mobility and stability of the spine.  Inside each disc is fluid surrounded by rings, much like the inside of a tree.  With poor posture or trauma, these rings tear, causing sharp pain and painful movement.  If all of the rings tear, the fluid leaks out causing a disc bulge or herniation.  Disc injuries can feel like a rib is “out” due to pain while breathing.

Sciatica is a general term referring to irritation of the sciatic nerve.  Symptoms range from pain, burning, aching, tingling, to numbness and weakness.  Symptoms can occur along the nerve from the low back down to the feet.  As a broad ‘diagnosis’ this term doesn’t tell you what’s wrong with the sciatic nerve or why.  It’s often believed that a disc bulge in the low back puts pressure on the nerve, but this is rare.  The most common cause of sciatica is nerve entrapment in the deep hip muscles.

Muscle Spasms
Intense pain and limited mobility which feels like an excessively tight muscle is the classic sign of “throwing out your back.”  Low back muscles tighten (spasm) to take pressure off of a damaged lumbar disc.  Muscle spasms subside within 1-2 weeks as the injured disc recovers.  Directly treating muscle spasms is unwise, because they are a protective mechanism.

The most common form of arthritis to affect the low back is osteoarthritis.  It’s known as the 'wear and tear' arthritis because over time the joint surfaces wear down.  Increased stress causes the gradual breakdown of cartilage which cushions the joints.  Abnormal bone growth (spurs) develop to help stabilize the joints.  The degenerative process can cause pain and loss of mobility.  Restoring healthy lumbar mobility slows the degenerative process. 

Adhesion, Mobility, & Low Back Pain/Sciatica

Adhesion is connective tissue that acts like glue in the body, limiting flexibility and strength.  This ‘glue’ is the most common cause of limited mobility.  Adhesion gluing the sciatic nerve to hip muscles (nerve entrapment) is the primary cause of sciatica.  Fixing adhesion reduces low back pain and sciatica by restoring mobility and proper spine mechanics.  With low back pain and sciatica, it is critical to test for any range of motion limitations.  

Below are two videos demonstrating how to test yourself for limited low back mobility.  
If either of these tests are limited, difficult, or painful,
we can help.

Is limited mobility causing your low back pain or sciatica?
Test Yourself

Standing Toe Touch

Straight Leg Raise

  • Stand feet shoulder width apart
  • Knees slightly bent
  • Bend forward
  • Full mobility: touching floor
  • Pain-free & easy

  • Laying on your back
  • Lift 1 leg up as far as you can 
  • Keep leg as straight as possible
  • Repeat on other leg
  • Full mobility: 90 degrees 

T​hese are only general tests of lumbar spine mobility.  They do not establish a diagnosis.

Patient Testimonial

I've dealt with tight hamstrings and hips for many years which I've spent hours trying to stretch through with no success. The problem just seemed to get worse even after seeing other Chiropractors and PT's. Thankfully I was able to get treated by Dr. Holen. He did a thorough exam, explained how adhesion was limiting my muscles flexibility, the importance of having healthy range of motion for healthy joints, and within a few visits he had me out the door for good.

Brandon J.

Low Back Pain & Sciatica Relief