» Backpain

Back pain

Backpain covers most of what you need to know about chiropractic help.


This is a very general word, caused by hundreds of different chiropractic conditions. Most of them originate in the spine or ribs joints or muscles, but a referred ache from the organs does occur occasionally.

A stomach ulcer can give you discomfort between the shoulder blades; so can a tumour in the pancreas. That's rare, fortunately, being 100 percent fatal, even if diagnosed early, which it only occasionally is. Steven Jobs, the Apple Mac man, had access to the very best treatment, and still succumbed.

The upper mid back is a particularly troublesome area, being a transitional area between the cervical and thoracic spine. It is subject to deep upper back pain that may radiate to the arm.

Because back pain is so general, click on the links to the relevant part of the spine.

The mid back is called the thoracic spine. The name comes from thorax which is that part between the neck and the diaphragm, the large muscle separating the chest from the abdomen.

The thoracic spine has twelve bones, and a myriad of joints and muscles relating to the ribs. Each of them makes three joints with the spine and one with the sternum, where so called costosternal chest pain occurs.

There are twelve pairs of ribs; you get it?

12 vertebrae x 2 ribs x 3 joints in the back, plus one in the front with the sternum, which gives one hundred, give or take a few. Yes, you do get it; pain.

For more information about pain in the breastbone (sternum), click here COSTOSTERNAL CHEST PAIN

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 5th December, 2018.

  • Chiropractic Conditions is a central page at Chiropractic Help. It provides you simply and easily with the sorts of conditions that the average chiropractor would be treating.
  • Healthy Living Tips is another vital page at Chiropractic Help. Sparkling good health is not just about having your subluxations adjusted. Our healthy living tips page gives you some insights into different foods you could and perhaps should be eating.

Midback and rib pain treatment

There are few things more painful than a "sprung rib", very severe midback pain, often after a sneeze. Every breath becomes a nightmare... it feels like someone is stabbing you in the back with a rusty screwdriver.

The treatment of rib pain is something that chiropractors specialise in. For more information about chiropractic rib pain treatment, both in the back and by the breast-bone, click here. RIB PAIN TREATMENT

Rib pain treatment CaseFile gives a typical scenario.

Scheuermann's disease

Kyphosis causing midback pain.

Scheuermanns disease is a not uncommon condition causing backpain, and affecting about 5 percent of teenagers. Sadly, parents have often been told it's growing pains, a condition which does not exist in my opinion, and by the time they get to us, it is already chronic, and a spinal deformity is inevitable.

Like all conditions, from diabetes to hypertension to Scheuermann's disease it comes in very mild to severe stages; catch it early.

This need not be so. As with adults, any pain that your child experiences which does not of itself go away should be investigated. When it comes to backpain too, prevention is better than a cure.

Interestingly, researchers have shown that people with Scheuermann's disease have a much higher incidence of conditions of the stomach. This is because the stomach, which is really just a specialised muscle, is innervated in part from the mid thoracics, where Scheuermanns usually is found. Are you suffering from indigestion heartburn? Part of the solution may be found in a probiotic like kefir that will overwhelm any pathogens like Heliobacter by their sheer numbers.

Gelatine powder for Arthritis has proved to give enormous help to everything from ulcers to the cartilage in conditions such as Scheuermanns disease. Make your own at home; it's so easy.


Maignes Syndrome and a Maignes Syndrome Casefile

The junction between the very stable thoracic spine (owing to the ribs) and the highly mobile lumbar spine is a vulnerable area often causing backpain that may spread into the buttock and side of the leg, giving the appearance of a sciatica. For more, about Maignes Syndrome, click here.

This is also the area incidentally where kidney stones can cause severe pain.

Maigne's Syndrome Casefile

Maigne's syndrome exercises actually are helpful most cases of lower back pain.

Thoraco lumbar spine showing muscles.


Backpain page gives you oodles of information about the chiropractic approach to your condition.

3. THE LOWER BACK and Tomato Prostate ...

The lower-back or lumbar spine stretches from the diaphragm to the pelvis, and consists of five bones. This is where most serious backpain comes from.

Low back pain used to be called lumbago , but we don't use the word any more. It's too vague. Lumbago can be caused by anything from a slipped disc, to a sacro-iliac joint problem, to arthritis, to cancer ... forget the word.

Referred pain can also occur, for example menstrual cramps often refer to the back.

Every man must, it's compulsory!, eat a tomato a day . Whilst metastatic disease in the spine and pelvis is relatively uncommon in comparison with all the other causes of back pain, prostate cancer is still the most common terminal cancer in men. For more about how tomatoes drastically reduce the rate of prostate cancer, click here … TOMATO PROSTATE

Van Gogh's gardeners would have suffered from low back pain.

In Vincent van Gogh's days probably nobody knew about back exercises, but today every gardener should do a few exercises before venturing out. Gardening and backpain are so synonomous that in Holland they use the same word for gardening (spitten) and acute back pain (spit).

If you sign up for Chiropractic Tips (they're free), you'll get a simple set of basic back exercises. Chiropractic Tips ...

  • Slipped disk and a SLIPPED DISC SYMPTOMS Case File

The so-called slipped disc, a very broad layman's term for a very complex syndrome, is a condition that Chiropractic excels in. The trick is to prevent a Grade I from progressing to a Grade 4. If you suffer from low back pain, then you ought to know about the FOUR grades of slipped disc.

Lumbar facet syndrome

Small joints in the spine are probably the most common cause of LBP, the lumbar facet syndrome, characterised by backpain when bending into extension and to the side. For more about how chiropractic excels in the management of this very treatable malady, click here.

Seven good reasons NOT to take analgesics FREE PAIN PILLS

  • Spondylolysthesis and a Spondylolysthesis Casefile
A lateral lumbar x-rays showing a spondylolysthesis.

Good chiropractic is all about, in part, a find understanding of anatomy, and particularly that pertaining to the joints of the body. Henry Gray was the first doctor who systemised the subject and Gray's Anatomy still stands as a tribute to this giant redwood in the forests of doctors.

This is one cause of chronic low back pain. It may be caused either by a stress fracture (usually in early childhood) or by degenerative change in the older person. These abnormalities allow one vertebra to slide forwards over the vertebra below it. This can also trap the nerves travelling to the legs causing pain and weakness in the legs. Read more about the Chiropractic management of Spondylolysthesis. It's not at all uncommon. A stress fracture in the low back.

  • Leg pain with NO low back pain

There is an unusual condition called Intermittent Claudication that causes pain in the leg, with exercise, with no low back pain. Read more about INTERMITTENT CLAUDICATION - LEG PAIN caused by an artery blocked with cigarette ash!

Chiropractic help

Chiropractic help is a very large website covering many aspects of backpain, as well as other parts of the body such as the lumbar facet syndrome, or the slumped, aching teenager who may be suffering from Scheuermann's disease.

There are today, at the time of writing 436 pages; finding your way around can be a nightmare; use the "site search" function in the navigation bar at the top left if you are hunting for something.

You'll find a small but important section on nutrition; the best doctor in the world can't help you if you are eating a highly inflammatory diet. How to cook beet greens for example is an interesting page that really could make a significant change to the status of your health for very little work.

At the bottom of this page you'll find a section where you can pose questions about your health.


Mrs S taught me a new Dutch word. I have "ontiegelijke pijn." I had no idea what the word meant, but I grasped her meaning. Totally unbearable. And, she had had it for two long miserable years.

At 83 she had been told by numerous doctors that she had arthritis, and at her age simply had to live with the pain. Little do doctors know!

Bending over backwards caused severe pain, so she walked like she had a carrot up, to put it crudely, you-know-where.

In chiropractic terms, Mrs S had what is described as Lower back and leg pain.

Her various doctors had refused to take x-rays of her low back, and so I really don't know just how severe the wear-and-tear in her lumbar spine is. Quite advanced I expect. Thank goodness it's not cancer. The long and the short of it is that Mrs S has about 60% less back pain (after about two months of treatment) and she can now walk upright, like the good God-fearing woman she is. Cured? Certainly not, chiropractic help cannot cure backpain, and she'll have to wait for heaven for the new spine that brings no tears. She now comes in once every three weeks, and we are both well pleased. The carrot is out, and the two-year "ontiegelijke pijn" is of the past.

She has a good understanding of what I call the 50 percent less pain rule; the dangerous time.

And I warned her that after chiropractic treatment pain is not uncommon in chronic conditions.

She is doing my exercise program faithfully, and knows that digging in the garden, and even vacuuming her home, is a thing of the past. Luckily Mr S is in good spirits!

4. THE PELVIS and SacroIliac joint anatomy

The pelvis , a ring of three large bones below the lumbar spine, is also a source of low back pain. A very common source actually. For more information about the sacroIliac joints , click here, SACROILIAC JOINT ANATOMY.

Financial burden of LOW BACK PAIN

Backpain is causing an enormous financial burden on society, a burden that is rapidly increasing, despite so-called 'progress'. Oscar Wilde was the first to promote the idea that the great problem with progress may be that it goes forwards rather than backwards! Medical 'progress', yes and perhaps even chiropractic 'progress' I hear you saying, may in fact be adding to that burden. For more about this financial woe of backpain,  read this page at low back pain.


For chronic backpain, like other chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothroidism there is unfortunately no substitute for MAINTENANCE CARE ...

And faithfully done LOWER BACK EXERCISES are a vital part of that maintenance care. A minute and half every morning (and better evenings too, but the morning before getting out of bed is the vital time) that's all they take.


In the practice, we often find a problem in the foot or ankle may be the underlying cause of backpain. It may be frank pain causing you to limp, or simply a dysfunctional joint.

    If you backpain, or your neck for that matter, is not responding the way you would like it too, ask your chiropractor to look at your foot, and the length of your leg.

  • Read more about FOOT PAIN …
  • Read more about a SHORT LEG and its contribution to low back pain, and knee and hip arthritis … LEG LENGTH INEQUALITY >>

Have A Question about your lower back?

Have A Question about your lower back?


I receive many questions about Chiropractic. It might be help with a spinal condition, but it might also be from a person who can't walk after a hip operation, or some such thing.

I will do that by answering your questions personally, but it will be converted to a Web Page so others can benefit from your questions. Omit your name if you like.

However, do understand that, in the main, I'm going to be directing you, should it be pertinent, to a Chiropractor in your neck of the woods. I'll respond to all reasonable inquiries, but please be specific, and give as much detail as you can.

Stop! Are you about to write on a not so smartphone? Don't. The chances are good you are wasting your time and won't get a reply.

Google has taken a very strong stand against webpages with poor grammar. Please don't use capitals, dots, hyphens and brackets. Don't write from your smartphone because I simply don't have the time to correct your grammar, and won't answer.

There is no charge for this service, however if you find my answer useful, you might like to consider purchasing my latest book, Stones in my Clog. Gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a Chiropractor. It's only $2.99. http://www.bernard-preston.com/Stones-in-my-Clog.html

Pose Me A Question! Pretty please, in decent grammar and spelling.

I will never give or sell your email address to anyone.

Do understand that lower back pain is extremely complex, so I can only give general guidelines. There's no substitute for a careful thorough chiropractic examination.

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Can't stand without burning/numbness in thigh and low back pain 
Hello. I have had no injury or incident - other than one morning I woke up with severe low back pain; I had "thrown my back out" somehow while sleeping? …

Persistent femoral nerve pain  
Hello. I have a long history of lower back problems, with 3 bulging discs in the lower region. I had gone several years without a bad spasm and was being …

left leg only slight tingle and numbness 
left leg only slight tingle and numbness Hello and good day, I came across your website, and would like to take the chance to post my question. …

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I hurt my back about 5 months ago fr work and physio told me I strained my muscle.I had my physio for 8 weeks after the incident but until now the pain …

Low back and SI Joint Pain 
While I was in physical therapy, end of last year, my therapist told me that she thought my coccyx and sacrum were straightening out making my lower back …

Burst fracture 
Had burst fracture in 2010. Have a little discomfort and some pain. Wondered if a chiropractor could help with pain and discomfort. Dr. Barrie …

Lower back pain seriously neglected in the defence force Not rated yet
Lower back pain seriously neglected in the defence force is a tale of woe. Hi, My partner has been having lower back issues for around 18 months. …

pain in upper back with bad indigestion Not rated yet
I have been experiencing back upper back pain with indigestion. I went to the chiropractor and he found that my T2 was out. It was fine and a while and …

Pain specifically down left side of Back Not rated yet
Dear Dr B, Over the years I have always had ongoing nagging burning tight muscle pain down the left side of my back, it is not in my …

severe lower back and leg pain Not rated yet
severe lower back and leg pain 5 months ago I hurt my back by lifting my bed, and it hurts not matter what o do. I can sit down stand up walk and out …

sciatica / mid-upper right back pain and numbness/tingling right arm. Not rated yet
sciatica / mid-upper right back pain and numbness/tingling right arm. I have been having issues with sciatica for almost a year. For the past 2 months …

Aching back in 8 year old female  Not rated yet
Aching back in 8 year old female (for last 10 months) also mid back loss of sensation. My daughter has been complaining of a 'bad back' for some time. …

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I have been diagnostiqued for a spondylolysthesis. I have a lot of pain in my lower back left side with radiation in the leg. Hello Rhode, A spondy …

left side low back/upper glute pain Not rated yet
Hey its Jim again, I did the slump test and it hurts in my upper glute. I also have had tenderness in the upper portion of my glute, all along the upper …

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I have a problem with my L5/S1, most doctors would send me off for a spinal fusion. I manage to live a fairly normal life (no running) after months of …

Pain in the hip Not rated yet
First of all THANK YOU! I have enjoyed your web site and information I have several good friends that are Chiropractors and respect them all but I …

Lower and mid back pain Not rated yet
I have always sufferd with a bad back which got progressively worse since the pregnancy and birth of my daughter. She is now two and the last few months …

Pain in the lumbar spine Not rated yet
My L4 vertebra has slightly moved from its position. Later I felt the pain a lot and also I felt the pain in my right leg..... My question: is this …

Numbness in mid back Not rated yet
I have been going to a chiropactor for 2 years. He believes I have a problem with my neck. Recently I am having numbness in my mid back with numbness …

Spondylolisthesis L5-S1 over 50%  Not rated yet
I filed for ssi and been denied twice, I retained an attorney and he wants me to get a report as to: how long I can sit,stand,walk etc... What type of …

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I am woman age 67. For many years on a few occasions I have had a sharp pain in right groin. Recently it is almost every day and especially as I try and …

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  • Researchers explain why joint fixations cause joint Arthritis. IMMOBILISATION ARTHRITIS ...

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.