The Multifidus muscle group and your lower back pain and sciatica problems.
The multifidus muscles are a set of muscles which can be found in the grooves on each side of the spine. The muscles are thin but long and they run throughout the length of the spine, being attached to all the facet joints. A number of therapist have identified the multifidus muscles as having special importance for back pain.
The reason for the believed importance of the muscles lies in the fact that they have unusual strength in relation to what they do. The key to that muscle strength lies in their construction, being composed as they are of innumerable small fibres which overlap. This is what give them their special strength.
The multifdus muscles can be found without difficulty especially in the area of the lower back. For example, in the position where your spine is just around the belt line, you should be able to locate the muscles by placing your hand on your back. You will feel the spine under your hand with the parts which stick up, a row of lumps along the length of the spine. On each side of these bones exist the muscles. Push your fingers in on the side of the spine and the muscles which you feel are the multifidus.
To feel the muscles in action hold onto something firmly in front of yourself with one hand and place the other in the small of your back at the same time. If you then lift either leg up backwards away from you, you should become aware of the muscles as they respond to the action of your leg moving.
The multifidus are there to give the spine and each of the vertebrae their essential stability and to ensure that all work as they should do and in harmony. At least that is what they ought to do, but failure can occur here if anyone or more of the multifidus muscles is responding poorly or is weak. When this happens then the support and stability that is needed for the proper functioning of the spine will not be there.
Various studies have drawn attention to the fact that many patients who have back and more particularly disc problems (effectively the root of most, although not all, lower back pain or back sprain including and sciatica) have multifidus muscles which are unsatisfactory and lack strength. This may be due to an inherent problem which has always existed, or it may be that due to some back problem in the past the muscles have become weakened and have not managed to recover their full capability although the back pain suffered may have retreated. Accordingly a spinal difficulty, perhaps a prolapsed or slipped disc, may have resulted in the failure or inhibition of one or more of the multifidus muscles. If this is the case then unless the weakness is addressed then the chances are that there will be more back problems and pain in the future.
When you are in pain due to back problems, especially if the pain is acute, the possibility of surgery will inevitably arise. But is this a good idea? This is a complex issue but really when you are in pain is not the best time to have to make a careful decision as to this. On thing to bear in mind is that back surgery can very easily involve damage to some of the multifidus muscles. As these are, as has been seen, essential to the general stability of the back, including of course the lower back, the consequence of surgery could be pain as before or even worse pain, or pain at some time to come, if the multifidus does not recover properly.
Whilst as mentioned, people with back problems often have weak or poor multifidus muscles, the opposite has also been demonstrated. Namely that those with strong multifidus muscles do not often suffer difficulties or back pain at all. The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that anyone with a back condition should certainly be considering, amongst other matters, the extent to which the multifidus should be taken into account. If the route to being free from pain can be achieved by improving your multifidus muscles then this should be part of strategy.
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Please bear in mind that this article is for general information purposes only and is not medical advice about your health. If you have a medical condition or problem you should always consult your doctor as to the matter which may be more serious than you realize.