People frequently use taping to manage and treat symptoms and injuries. Over the years, athletes have been wearing tapes on certain parts of their bodies with pain, and the tapes are typically successful in relieving the discomfort.
However, does taping work for those suffering from chronic lower back pain? And if it works for them, which taping techniques are more effective for treating chronic lower back pain? We will go over each of these in more detail later on this article after familiarising you with what chronic lower back pain is.
Read till the end so you won’t miss any vital details.
What Is Chronic Lower Back Pain?
Back pain involves your back’s bones, nerves, and muscles. It is one of the primary reasons adults seek medical help and is one of the primary causes of disability globally.
Depending on the duration, the pain is classified as acute, sub-chronic, or chronic. Acute lower back pain lasts less than six weeks, and sub-chronic lower back pain lasts between six to twelve weeks.
Chronic lower back pain usually lasts more than 12 weeks. It is a dull, constant ache, a sharp stabbing pain, or even a burning or tingling feeling that puts you in persistent discomfort. Sadly enough, the pain often comes back to haunt you for weeks.
Symptoms of Chronic Lower Back Pain
The most common symptoms of chronic lower back pain include:
- Muscle spasms and tightness.
- Dull ache in your hips and pelvis.
- Noticeably worse pain in the morning.
- Sciatica – a sharp pain that begins in your lower back and goes down one leg.
- Pain that worsens with sitting but improves with walking.
Causes of Chronic Lower Back Pain
You may believe that the heavy objects you recently lifted or your slip and tumble from the previous winter are to blame for your back pain. Yet, none of those are the main reasons for your persistent lower back pain. Underlying conditions are the main causes.
Facet Joint Damage
Facet joints connect the five vertebrae that constitute your lower back, and they experience high amounts of stress and compressive forces. These cause the breakdown of the cartilage in the facet joints and lead to lower back pain. Facet joint damage can occur due to repeated overuse or poor posture, leading to stiffness, pain, muscle spasming, and inflammation. It can also cause sciatica when the damage impacts a nearby nerve.
There are 17 vertebrae in an adult’s lumbar and thoracic spine, stacked over each other. There are cushioning discs between the set of vertebrae that help absorb the pressure these bones (vertebrae) experience. The discs are composed of an inner gel and an outer gel. However, when the inner gel of the lumbar disc squishes or slips beyond the outer edge, the condition is called a herniated disc. This condition allows the inner gel to impact surrounding nerves and causes pain.
Spinal stenosis is a disorder that occurs when your lower spinal canal narrows, putting the nearby nerve roots under undue pressure. Common causes of spinal stenosis are degeneration of a lumbar disc or joint, formation of bone spurs, and thickening of nearby ligaments. Compressed nerve roots can cause severe pains, and they are not limited to lower back pains alone but can also cause sciatica.
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The spine is naturally curved, with an S-shape when viewed from one side of the body—the lower back curves forward, while the upper back curves backward.
However, if your back curves sideways instead (when viewed from the back), you have a disorder called scoliosis, which is a spinal deformity that causes back pain. Scoliosis and other improper spinal curvatures can place stress on your lower back, which leads to pain. They also increase the rate of degeneration of your discs and lumbar joints.
When a lumbar vertebra slips over the top of the one below, it places pressure on the disc separating the two vertebrae. The disc deteriorates and leads to lower back pain.
Furthermore, if the disc flattens due to stress, sciatica can develop. Isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs when there is a fracture in the pars interarticularis, a small piece of bone adjacent to the facet joint. The fracture may occur when the individual is young, but they won’t feel the pain until later.
Spinal Compression Fracture
A spinal compression fracture is a medical condition when one of your lumbar vertebrae collapses inwards. Osteoporosis (a health condition in which the bones become weak and brittle) is the primary cause of spinal compression fracture. It can also occur due to trauma, resulting in chronic lower back pain and limited spinal mobility in affected individuals.
Taping Techniques for Chronic Back Pain
There are several taping techniques that physiotherapists use in combating different types of pain in their patients. These taping techniques include Kinesio Taping Technique, White Athletic Taping Technique, and McConnell Taping Technique. However, the Kinesio Taping Technique is the most effective and common technique for combating chronic back pain.
The McConnell taping technique is more effective for pains in the patellar region, not chronic lower back pain. On the other hand, the Athletic taping technique is more effective for stabilising and supporting pain sites. The tapes are non-flexible and cannot be worn for long since they limit movement.
What is Kinesio Taping?
Kinesio taping employs kinesio tapes for various purposes. Kinesio tapes are very flexible and super-stretchy tapes used by physiotherapists and in sports. Despite their flexibility, kinesio tapes provide stability for the user.
Hampton Athletic Tape is water-resistant (you can wear them to shower), latex-free (especially important for those with latex allergies), and you can wear them for several days. Furthermore, since they have the same thickness as your skin, they do not limit your movement like typical athletic tapes.
How Do Kinesio Tapes Work for Chronic Back Pain?
Kinesio tapes are designed to have a similar elasticity to the skin to ensure wearers can use their full range. Their water-resistant adhesive makes them strong enough to stay on your skin for about three to four days, even while working out and taking showers. Kinesio tapes help chronic lower back pain in the following ways:
- Creates Space Between Joints:
Facet joint damage is one of the causes of chronic lower back pain, and it occurs due to the pressure between the lumbar vertebrae, leading to the wearing of the joints. Applying the Kinesio taping technique helps lift your skin gently, which creates slight spaces between your facet joints and prevents further damage to them.
- Improves Blood and Fluids Circulation:
Chronic lower back pain can cause swelling in your lower back due to inflammation of such parts due to fluid accumulation. Applying kinesio taping lifts the skin and improves blood and lymph circulation, which helps to prevent further inflammation and pain.
- Changes Signals on Pain Pathways:
Another benefit of the skin-raising function of the Kinesiology taping technique is that it helps reduce your pain. It reduces the tension on the trigger points, which send signals to the brain. With less pressure on these nerves, your lower back pain will recede.
How to Apply Kinesio Tapes
Applying the kinesiology sports tape is pretty straightforward. You can complete the process by following these steps:
- Pin-point the part of your back where you usually feel pain.
- Ensure that part of your back is dry and free from oil, water, or grease. Shave that part, as removal might be painful with too many hairs.
- Cut the tape to the appropriate length, and cut out two strips.
- Cut out rounded tips at the ends of the strips, as they make the strip stay longer.
- Roll the backing papers of the strip from the center towards each end, leaving about 2 inches of backing attached to each end.
- Stretch the first strip a little and apply it directly below the site of pain.
- Remove the remaining 2 inches of backing from each end and apply them without stretching.
- For the second strip, stretch it a little and place it above the site of pain, parallel to the first strip.
- Finally, rub the strips to activate adhesion by heat.
How to Remove Kinesio Tapes
After a few days of wearing the kinesiology tapes, they may loosen. Following these steps will help you remove the kinesiology tapes without hurting yourself:
- Apply some lotion or olive oil atop the strips so that they will detach easily.
- Remove the strips slowly without yanking or pulling them.
- After nudging up one end of a strip, apply light pressure on your skin so it will separate from the tape.
- Pull each strip back against itself, not straight away from you.
- Trace your finger along your skin while pulling.
- It would be best not to reapply kinesio tape if your skin gets irritated. In such cases, consult your doctor.
Chronic lower back pain is prevalent among adults and is a primary condition that makes them visit their physicians. The sharp, constant pain can disturb your everyday life, leading to frustration and depression. This article discussed the main causes of chronic lower back pain. Furthermore, you now know how the Kinesio taping technique is the most ideal and efficient method for treating chronic lower back pain compared to other taping techniques. Contact us at Hampton Adams now to make your purchase or get more clarifications.